Giulia Martinengo Marquet is one of Italy’s best riders, and is hugely popular in her home country. We met up with this lovely Italian 33 year old, who has all the qualities needed as a top showjumper – and in addition she is a lovely person with a unique presence. It is also clear that Giulia loves her horses, and treats them as the individuals that they are. There is no way we could not like Giulia after meeting her!
Giulia comes from a family with horse traditions, and “started to ride because of my mother” as she puts it. “Both my parents rode, as did my brother, and my mother always brought me to shows and bought my horses for me before I became professional,” Giulia tells us. “So, I have always been riding. I started out with ponies and after we sold our house where we kept horses at home, I began at a pony club. I didn’t have a career on ponies though, but I rode a couple of Grand Prix classes as a junior and as a young rider I went to the European Championships twice,” she lets us know.
Giulia always had in the back of her mind that she wanted to do showjumping professionally. “It was all about finding a way on how to get to do that, and I was trying to figure it out. Then two important things happened: I was enrolled by the Airforce Sports Centre and I met what is today my husband Stefano Cesaretto. The pieces of the puzzle got in the right places at last! Stefano had his own stable, and as we met he was about to stop competing as he was doing a lot of training. It became even more training with me coming along, and today he is my husband, trainer and main sponsor. So, it all worked out,” Giulia smiles when talking about Stefano who she clearly adores.
“We are based near the Garda Lake, in between Milan and Verona. We have a yard with fifty boxes, a walker, a big outdoor arena, a small indoor and paddocks – everything you need! In the beginning we had a lot of students there, but we have stepped it down as Stefano follows me around a lot and needed less responsibility,” Giulia explains. “I have around fifteen competition horses and Stefano also rides at home and helps me out.” At home Giulia and Stefano also does a little breeding, and have a few good mares that they use for that purpose; “We have a Cruising-mare and a Concorde-mare that we have bred from, but it’s just for fun,” Giulia smiles.
Giulia’s top horse is Loro Piana Athletica; a horse she rates very highly. “Athletica is the perfect horse – she has everything needed! Athletica is a wonderful horse, both inside the ring and in the stable. I have always been lucky to have good horses, but I really think she is something special and everybody that meets her have the same feeling,” Giulia smiles. “Athletica has been brought back to competing this spring after being out due to a serious injury for the last 2 ½ years. When Athletica was injured we thought she was finished as it was quite a big injury in a hind leg,” Giulia explains of the 14 year old Achill Libero H-mare. “But now she’s back! We brought her back to jumping in January, and now she is out in the Grand Prix classes. I’m taking it step by step though; I don’t want to rush anything,” Giulia says about her partner that is also the mother of Jos Lansink’s former ride King Kolibri and the sister of Vulcano that in his days was competed by Marcus Ehning.
The Italian rider also rides the lovely Loro Piana Chiclana, a 12 year old mare by Cascavelle. “Chiclana won a Grand Prix class last year, and impressed me when I jumped her at the Europeans in Madrid. But then she was a bit unlucky and injured herself in Stuttgart,” Giulia explains. “I also have Loro Piana Cartella, which I consider to be my top horse for the future. She is 9 years old and by Con Air and I think she will be really successful,” Giulia says of the mare that recently won a big class in San Giovanni.
“I would like to try and have some fun this year,” Giulia answers when we ask her about her plans for this season. “There are no championships for me this year, so I have kind of a gap year. And it’s been a gift to get Athletica back to competition, so I would like to choose the best shows for us! So this year is all about going to nice shows and giving the other horses experience, and build up a strong string of horses without pushing them too much. I would love to jump in San Patrignano though!”
Giulia is always very visible in the ring, in her beautiful air force uniform. Like many of the other Italian riders Giulia rides for the army, which is divided into different departments “The horse sport has long traditions in Italy, also in the army – just like it is in Ireland,” she explains.”It’s a way of making the army visible,” Giulia explains. ”The army chooses the best athletes from each sport, and it’s a way of marketing themselves. ”
On showjumping in Italy, Giulia says; “The level of the riders in Italy is really good, and we have excellent shows here – but the availability of horses is not much to speak of and we have no breeding so we mostly have to buy horses, mainly from abroad we’re starting to find talents in Italy as well.”
Giulia looks for quality in her horses, and if she had to choose between scope and carefulness she would go for the latter. “And I love mares. Small mares with blood. My best horses have all been mares. I find that they really fight for you!”