Steve, are you already looking forward to Sunday? If you win the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen, you will reach the next stage of the Rolex Grand Slam…
Yes, of course, I can't wait until Sunday, I always immensely look forward to Aachen. After all, I have never won the Rolex Grand Prix here. So, I will give it my best shot!
What does the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping mean for you?
The Rolex Grand Slam is very good for our sport and of course for the media. It is a guarantee for attracting attention to the international jumping sport. These three major shows in Aachen, Geneva and Calgary are incredibly prestigious – every show-jumper wants to win them. I find it great and very important that Rolex are backing this initiative.
How do you rate your chances of winning the Rolex Grand Slam, of mastering this huge sporting challenge?
I will be competing with Nino Des Buissonnets, a horse with whom I can achieve a great deal in the Rolex Grand Slam. We are well prepared and will both give our very best. Nino is in excellent shape. We will endeavour to exploit this unique opportunity that we are being offered on Sunday. I wouldn't like to look back in a few years and have to blame myself for not trying my very hardest.
Obviously, Nino is the star. But you have also brought a lot of other talented horses to Aachen with you…
That is correct. For example, Nasa. I am probably going to ride her in the Mercedes-Benz Nations' Cup. She loves big shows, so Aachen is just right for her. Or Kavalier, an eight-year-old stallion, who I will compete with in the Sparkasse-Youngsters-Cup. I want him to gain some experience amid this amazing setting, because I hope to take part in Grand Prix with him in a few years' time.
How important is the horse for a rider?
Very important! A rider is only as good as his horse and vice versa – it is impossible to separate that, a few famous pairs spring to mind in this connection, such as Eric Lamaze and Hickstead or Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Shutterfly. Such pairs form a perfect, harmonious unity. The chemistry simply has to be right, trust has to be there too. One thing is certain: Without a top horse, I would never be able to win such a famous competition as the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen – not to mention a Rolex Grand Slam.
What was it like for you to win the Grand Prix at the CHI in Geneva?
The show in Geneva is something very special for me, it is more or less a home game. Many riders dream of winning this show. The crowd and the atmosphere at the Palexpo are simply fantastic. Sometimes, so much success frightens me…
And what does the CHIO Aachen mean for you?
It is impossible to compare the shows in Geneva and Aachen with each other. Of course, the CHIO Aachen is the major show of the year. Because of the whole background history and the magnificent jumping stadium, it is simply THE number one show! Entering the Main Stadium in front of a crowd of 40,000 spectators, especially in the Rolex Grand Prix, makes a rider incredibly proud. And that is also what makes Aachen so unique: The spectators are experts on the equestrian sport scene. I am delighted to be here again.
Especially since Switzerland is the partner country of the World Equestrian Festival this year.
It was a good decision. The atmosphere at the reception of the Swiss delegation on the market square in Aachen was already very impressive. I am sure that my Swiss compatriots will enchant the CHIO crowd.