Tomorrow you will be competing in an international class with your long-standing successful partner, “Nino des Buissonnets”, for the last time. After the “Rolex Grand Prix”, a festive ceremony will celebrate “Nino” retiring from competitive sport. When did you decide that Geneva was to be his last show?
Steve Guerdat: It was always clear that when “Nino” retired, it would be in Geneva. It is my favourite show and “Nino” has already won the “Rolex Grand Prix” here twice. The crowd here love him. I made the decision that it would happen this year around two months ago. “Nino” is still in top form at the moment, but he will turn 16 next year and if he were to sustain an injury, it would probably be the end of his career. I didn’t want to take this risk. I wanted him to retire when he is still at the peak of his performance, he deserves that. Tomorrow the people can enjoy him for one last time and then that is it for him. That is the way it should be!
You competed at top level together for six years and have celebrated countless victories. How much has “Nino” contributed to your career so far?
Guerdat: I think in the meantime “Nino” has become a legend, not just because of him winning Olympic gold or because of the two Major victories in Geneva. For example, he also came second in the World Cup Final twice. He never took part at too many shows, but whatever he did, he always turned in top results – and he is still in top form now. He is not only my best horse, he is without doubt one of the top horses in sporting history.
What are your feelings when you look ahead to tomorrow, when you know it is going to be the last time that you saddle “Nino” for a Grand Prix?
Guerdat: I don’t want to think about that now at all. I will ride tomorrow and try to win the “Rolex Grand Prix” again. Everything else will happen afterwards!
Alright, let us concentrate on the sport, then: In this respect, what can we expect from the Major final?
Guerdat: It will certainly be a very difficult course, as is customary here in Geneva. The first round will be a long one and it is necessary to ride extremely fast in the jump-off. There are so many good pairs here, we already saw that in the “Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final” on Friday evening. It is definitely going to be exciting tomorrow, but hopefully luck will be on our side, so that we complete the class on a good result.
You too put in a remarkable performance on Friday and claimed third place in the “Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final” with “Corbinian”. In the spring you succeeded in winning the World Cup Final with this horse. Do you think that “Corbinian” could follow in “Nino’s” footsteps, as far as future Championships are concerned?
Guerdat: “Corbinian” is perhaps not quite as consistent as “Nino” at the moment, but he is an exceptional horse in his own way. He already is one of the absolute top horses now and it is a shame that the people haven’t give him the credit he deserves yet. I mean this horse won the World Cup Final – that in itself is a huge victory in a horse’s career. As such, “Corbinian” doesn’t actually have to prove anything else or follow in anyone else’s footsteps, because he has already left his own.
Finally, coming back to tomorrow’s “Rolex Grand Prix” again: When you won in 2013 and 2015, you were one of the first to go in the jump-off, so you had to wait for a number of riders to jump before you actually knew you had won. Do you hope that things won’t be as nerve-racking for you tomorrow?
Guerdat: I simply hope, I ride well. Everything else will take its course!
The first big competitions of the CHI Geneva are over and from the onset the current Grand Slam contender, Scott Brash, proved that he is in top form. He took the very first opportunity to secure a starting place in the “Rolex Grand Prix” on Sunday.
The British rider and his current top horse, “Ursula XII” already put in a magnificent round and galloped over the finish line clear in the qualifying competition on Thursday. “I am delighted at our performance, ‘Ursula’ is in the best form possible. She was still a little bit overwhelmed by the atmosphere here at the Palexpo, but she jumped very nice and relaxed. She has got the day off today, she will compete in a small class tomorrow just to take the edge of her before the Grand Prix on Sunday.”
Scott Brash also succeeded in securing himself the ticket for the final with no pressure at all: The 31-year-old mastered the “Credit Suisse Grand Prix” – the first qualifier for the “Rolex Grand Prix” on Sunday – with ease after finishing third with “Hello M’Lady”. The US American, Kent Farrington, jumped to victory in the class with “Creedence”, ahead of Jérome Guery and “Grand Cru van de Rozenberg” from Belgium. In addition to the successful trio, a further 20 riders were able to reserve a ticket for the “Rolex Grand Prix” with top placements, including the number one in the world rankings, Christian Ahlmann, in addition to his German team colleagues Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Daniel Deußer and Marcus Ehning as well as the Italian show-jumper Lorenzo de Luca and the French riders Pénélope Leprévost and Roger-Yves Bost.
On Sunday, they will be taking on among others the reigning double-World and European Champion Jeroen Dubbeldam from the Netherlands, the US American McLain Ward, winner of the Pan-American Games 2015, the Vice European Champion Gregory Wathelet from Belgium and the bronze medallist at the Olympic Games in Rio, Eric Lamaze from Canada. All of these riders have already pre-qualified for the Major final due to their outstanding performances at the most recent Championships, alongside the Swiss national hero, Steve Guerdat, as winner of the Major in Geneva in 2015.
However, it is still not certain whether the winner of the CHIO Aachen 2016, Philipp Weishaupt from Germany, will be able to compete in the “Rolex Grand Prix”. He wasn’t placed in the “Credit Suisse Grand Prix”, nevertheless on Saturday he still has two chances of qualifying for the Major final: In the “Coupe de Genève” at 12.30 p.m. and in the “Geneva Classic” at 9.30 p.m.
The CHI Geneva has only just begun and already this evening the best riders in the world will be battling it out for a ticket to compete in the big final on Sunday: the “Rolex Grand Prix” that is endowed with prize-money totalling 1.2 million Swiss Francs.
The line-up of participants for this third leg in the year of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping couldn’t be more exclusive, because the entire show jumping world elite has announced its participation: The French team gold medalists from Rio, Kevin Staut, Pénélope Leprévost, Roger-Yves Bost, Philippe Rozier and Simon Delestre, are represented in Geneva. Furthermore, the spectators can also look forward to the reigning double World and European Champion, Jeroen Dubbeldam from the Netherlands, the bronze medallist from Rio, Eric Lamaze from Canada, and the entire Swiss Championship team led by the superstar, Steve Guerdat. Headed by the current number one in the world rankings Christian Ahlmann, not only all of the top 15 riders in the world rankings will be guests in Switzerland, but indeed almost the entire top 30, including McLain Ward and Kent Farrington from the USA, Bertram Allen from Ireland, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson from Sweden, Lorenzo de Luca from Italy as well as Ahlmann’s German team colleagues Daniel Deußer, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Marcus Ehning.
For all of these top riders, the victory in the Grand Prix on Sunday would at the same time mean the start of their personal Rolex Grand Slam: The rider, who wins the three Majors of the equestrian sport – the CHIO Aachen, the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in Calgary and the CHI Geneva – in direct succession, goes down in history as the winner of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping and claims a bonus of one million Euros.
Scott Brash from Great Britain is the only rider to have achieved this feat so far, namely in 2014/15, and after his victory in the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ this September, he will once again be competing in Geneva as the current contender for the Grand Slam. But the German show-jumper Philipp Weishaupt also has the chance to claim a Grand Slam bonus at the Palexpo in Geneva: As winner of the CHIO Aachen 2016, a second Major victory within one Grand Slam cycle would earn him a 250,000 Euro bonus.
The “Rolex Grand Prix” of the CHI Geneva gets underway at 2.30 p.m. on Sunday. The 40 starting places are allocated in a total of four qualifiers: Starting with the “Credit Suisse Grand Prix” today at 6.30 p.m., followed by the “Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final” on Friday at 8.00 p.m., on Saturday the riders actually have two opportunities to win a ticket for the Major final on Sunday, namely in the “Coupe de Genève” at 12.30 p.m. and in the “Geneva Classic” at 9.30 p.m.
The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is returning to Switzerland for the last Major in the year 2016: The best show-jumpers in the world will be competing against each other from December 8th-11th, and on the final Sunday they will be battling it out to claim the victory in the famous “Rolex Grand Prix.” An interview with the current Grand Slam challenger, Scott Brash, about exceptional horses, exceptional rides and last-minute shopping at the foot of the Swiss Alps.
Just one year ago you went down in history as the first rider ever to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Now, with your back-to-back victory at Spruce Meadows in September, you are once again the title contender. Why is the Rolex Grand Slam still such a strong attraction for you?
Scott Brash: I think it has a strong hold on everyone because Aachen, Calgary and Geneva are the three Majors that every rider wants to win. Every rider wants to be part of the Rolex Grand Slam and have the opportunity to try to do what not many people have done in history.
And if you should succeed in claiming the Grand Slam victory again, it would be particularly legendary. Because this year you didn’t compete in Aachen and Calgary with your long-standing successful partner, “Hello Sanctos”, with whom you were able to win the three Majors in 2014/15, but indeed with “Ursula XII”. Do you think this mare also has the potential to claim the Grand Slam title?
Brash: To be honest, yes I do and it is because she is also an exceptional horse. She is unique and it is rare to have two unbelievable horses in your lifetime, but she is certainly one of them. She was very close at Aachen, coming second, but proved she has been good enough to be there or thereabouts so all eyes are on Geneva for her now.
So you will be bringing “Ursula” to Geneva for the “Rolex Grand Prix”?
Brash: Yes, “Ursula” will be coming to Geneva. We have already started organising her programme straight after Calgary with Geneva in mind. She started her campaign indoors in October to get into the indoor season and we have set her up as well as we could for Geneva.
What are the special challenges of the Major in Geneva as part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping?
Brash: In contrast to Aachen and Calgary and their huge grass arenas, Geneva is indoors for a start. But I think it is different to the other Majors in the sense that the “Rolex Grand Prix” in Geneva is only one round instead of two, so you are nearly guaranteed a jump-off with the top horses and top riders. It is going to be a testing course with a fast jump-off there as well. So technically, it is very different to Aachen or Calgary, but there is going to be fantastic sport and I am looking forward to it.
With its date in mid-December, the CHI Geneva is not only well-known for its great sport, but also for its exceptional atmosphere and the festive ambiance. Do the riders also get into the Christmas mood?
Brash: Geneva is such a wonderful show and they have some great stands where you can buy lots of Christmas gifts and I usually do my last-minute shopping in and around there. It would probably be early Christmas shopping for me! But I think having Christmas just around the corner lends the show a great ambiance and everyone is in a great frame of mind and that creates a nice atmosphere to ride in.
And, of course, the perfect Christmas present for you would be to finish the competition as the Major winner...
Brash: Well, the “Rolex Grand Prix” will be a tough competition again and extremely hard to win. But I will give it my best shot!
On the horizon of the King of the Alps. Majestic, with the dignity of an undisputed ruler, the Mont Blanc towers over Lake Geneva. On the banks of which the battle for the crown has just commenced again. Because at the Palexpo in Geneva, the largest indoor arena in the world, the top stars of the equestrian world traditionally meet up in December for the third Major of the year in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
The CHI Geneva has been impressing the crowds since 1926 and attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year to the most southwestern point of francophone Switzerland to experience unforgettable sporting moments together with the best riders in the world.
All eyes will especially be cast on one man: Scott Brash, whose name is as closely connected with the glorious history of the Rolex Grand Slam as the Majors themselves. Since precisely two years ago, the young Brit laid the foundation for that monument that turned him into a living legend, after his victory in the “Rolex Grand Prix” at the CHI Geneva 2014: In the following year, he also succeeded in winning the Majors in both Aachen and Calgary and hence became the first and only rider ever to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
Scott Brash’s journey with Rolex is, however, by no means over after this pioneering triumph: “My fascination for the Majors is unabated,” the 31-year-old said and promptly delivered the evidence in July when he came second at the CHIO Aachen 2016. Moreover, after defending his Major title at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in September, he will be saddling his horse at the CHI Geneva as the current contender for the Rolex Grand Slam.
Philipp Weishaupt will also be travelling to Switzerland with the confidence of a Major winner, since it was he, who delegated Scott Brash into second place at the CHIO Aachen 2016. The German show-jumper has the opportunity to win the bonus for two Major victories within a Grand Slam cycle in Geneva. “Winning the Grand Prix in Geneva is an absolute dream,” commented the also 31-year-old. “It is an extremely tough challenge, but my horses are in top form and I think we have a good chance.”
But, the Swiss arena is not going to be the venue for a duel between merely Brash and Weishaupt, the entire show-jumping world elite is competing at the CHI Geneva, including last year’s winner, Steve Guerdat. The Swiss local hero has won the Major in Geneva three times already, in 2006, 2013 and 2015 and is one of the absolute favourites again this year.
Yet, which national hymn will echo through the Palexpo on the afternoon of December 11th, 2016, which rider will head the lap of honour, whose triumph will be eternally anchored in the minds of the 8,500 spectators, will exclusively be decided in the ring.
The top 40 pairs in the world qualify to compete in the “Rolex Grand Prix” of the CHI Geneva. In the end, one pair will triumph over all of their fellow competitors. Let the battle for the throne of the equestrian sport begin!
A legend says goodbye: Olympic champion and two-time Major winner of Geneva, "Nino des Buissonnets", will have his last "grand entrance" to the public at this years CHI Geneva. After this stage of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping the special horse will be retired from the sport.
“He deserves the chance to call it a day at Palexpo, in top form, at the end of a great season, in the so-special Palexpo arena. It's the right time and place to stop", shares Steve Guerdat. With "Nino des Buissonnets" he won the Major of Geneva in 2013 and 2015 and in the year 2012 he won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in London.
"Nino des Buissonnets" will bid farewell to the public at CHI Geneva on Sunday, 11th December, after his last round in the "Rolex Grand Prix" with Steve Guerdat.
Congratulations on your victory in the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex”. Exactly one year after your sensational Grand Slam triumph, history is repeating itself again for you. Albeit with a different horse …
Scott Brash: Yes, I won all three Majors that led to my Grand Slam victory with “Hello Sanctos”. But here I opted for “Ursula”. I am so delighted at this victory with her, because it was such a long road to get her there. She was always an incredible horses and winning a Major with her is something very special for me.
So, you will now be taking on the Rolex Grand Slam challenge with “Ursula”? After all, the two of you already also came second in the “Rolex Grand Prix” of Aachen.
Brash: “Ursula” is a world-class horse and I am extremely happy that she is finally getting the attention she deserves. But I am also realistic: The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is such a difficult thing to win – after all we are talking about the three biggest Grand Prix in the world. Being able to win in Geneva, Aachen or Spruce Meadows even once in a lifetime is already a fantastic achievement in itself. And it remains to be a virtually impossible challenge to win all three Majors in succession, even with the best horse in the world. Even today, I can still hardly believe my victory last year. But don’t understand me wrong: I will now nevertheless dedicate my entire attentions to the Rolex Grand Slam again and give it my best shot.
So that means now: Focusing totally on Geneva?
Brash: Absolutely! Regardless of the Rolex Grand Slam, in my eyes the CHI Geneva is the best indoor show in the world. I love Geneva! The “Palexpo” is a wonderful arena, there is going to be fantastic sport there and the “Rolex Grand Prix” will be a tough competition again. I know what is awaiting me – and I am looking forward to it!
Do you actually have enough space for a further Grand Slam Trophy at home?
Brash: There will always be room for that, don’t worry! (laughs)
The picture shows Scott Brash and "Ursula", winners of the "CP 'International', presented by Rolex", with the Rolex Grand Slam Trophy in the "International Ring" of Spruce Meadows. It can be used free of charge (picture: Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping/Kit Houghton).
He has done it again! After his phenomenal triumph last year, when Scott Brash won the third Major in succession in Calgary and thus went down in history as the first winner of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, the Brit now succeeded in riding to victory again in the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex”.
In the Grand Prix of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, the second leg of the year in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, on Sunday afternoon, as the only rider to remain clear after two rounds and a jump-off, Brash left the entire world elite of the jumping sport trailing behind him and with this unique performance defended his Major victory of the previous year.
“I am overjoyed and my whole thanks go to my horse, who jumped exceptionally today,” a delighted Scott Brash commented on his sensational success, which takes him to Geneva in December to the next leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. In the third and last Major of the year, Scott Brash now has the opportunity to repeat history: If he should once again succeed in winning the “Rolex Grand Prix” of the CHI in Geneva, he could claim the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping title for the second time at the CHIO Aachen next July. However – and that is the especially extraordinary thing – with a different horse: Since whereas he jumped to victory in the Majors in Geneva in 2014, and in Aachen and Spruce Meadows in 2015 with “Hello Sanctos”, this time he had placed his bets on “Ursula”, whom he also came second with at the CHIO Aachen in 2016.
For the winner of the CHIO Aachen 2016, Philipp Weishaupt, on the other hand things didn’t run smoothly in Spruce Meadows: The German and his stallion “LB Convall” missed the opportunity of taking a further step in the direction of the Rolex Grand Slam, when they didn’t manage to qualify for the second round of the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex” after collecting twelve faults in the first round. However, in December Weishaupt still has the chance of picking up the bonus for two non-consecutive Major victories within one Grand Slam cycle in Geneva. In Spruce Meadows, the Swiss rider, Steve Guerdat, could have taken advantage of this “two-out-of-three” bonus after his victory at the CHI Geneva in 2015. However, eight penalty points in the first round of the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex” meant the Olympic gold medallist of 2012 and “Corbinian” didn’t go through to the second round.
The picture shows Philipp Weishaupt and "LB Convall", contenders for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, in the “International Ring” of Spruce Meadows. It can be used free of charge (picture: Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping/Kit Houghton).
The final qualifier for the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex” was on Saturday evening and now it is ultimately clear which pairs are allowed to compete in the grand final on Sunday in this year’s Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, the second Major of the year in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
In addition to the two Rolex Grand Slam contenders, Philipp Weishaupt and Steve Guerdat, Christian Ahlmann, the current number one in the world rankings and the winner of the Major in Aachen in 2014, is on the starter list together with his team colleague, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, winner of the Major in Aachen in 2005, as well as the Olympic gold team medallists, Roger-Yves Bost and Kevin Staut – winner of the Major in Geneva in 2010 – from France.
The Rolex Grand Slam winner Scott Brash from Great Britain and the Brazilian rider, Pedro Veniss, who came first and third respectively last year, are also qualified for the final together with the reigning Vice European Champion from Belgium, Gregory Wathelet and his fellow countryman, Olivier Philippaerts – the winner of the Major in 2012. The winner of the Major in 2009, McLain Ward, will also strive to repeat this exceptional achievement. A victory in the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex” would be the first Major title for his US American team colleague, Kent Farrington – and the current number two in the world rankings is without doubt one of the big favourites.
As such, the biggest names in the sport are all represented in the final of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’. At the end of the day, one of them will write a further unique chapter in the history of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. One of them will go down in the history of the equestrian sport as a Major winner.
The picture shows Steve Guerdat and "Albführen's Happiness", winners of the first qualifier for the "CP 'International', presented by Rolex". It can be used free of charge (picture: Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping/Kit Houghton).
The international classes of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in Calgary, Canada have been underway since Wednesday. The two Rolex Grand Slam contenders, Philipp Weishaupt and Steve Guerdat, can be more than satisfied with their initial performances at the Major: Guerdat won the first qualifier for the “CP ‘International’ presented by Rolex” with the mare “Albführen’s Happiness” straight off. So, the Swiss rider has already qualified for the Final on Sunday. “Naturally, it is great to get a show off to such a good start,” said Guerdat delighted, however he also explained: “Of course, there is a huge difference between this first qualifier over 1.50 metre obstacles and the Grand Prix on Sunday, when a completely different level of performance is demanded.” Incidentally, Guerdat is placing his bets on “Corbinian” for the “CP ‘International’ presented by Rolex”, whom he won the World Cup Final with in the spring and with whom he successfully competed at the CHIO Aachen in July.
As in Aachen, Philipp Weishaupt will be saddling his horse “LB Convall” for the Major final. The stallion, who already competed in the Summer Series in Spruce Meadows, has presented himself in top form from the very first day onwards after returning to Calgary: “He is fresh, he felt at home here again straightaway, he greeted the parade horses of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as if they were old friends. He also felt great jumping too.”
Since the pair are pre-qualified for the final after winning the CHIO Aachen, they can take a relaxed approach to the remaining days of the show. “’’Convall’ had the day off on Thursday, I am riding him in an advanced jumping class on Friday, Saturday I will rest him again – and on Sunday we will be going for it,” commented a confident Philipp Weishaupt, who, if he succeeds in riding to victory in the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex” on Sunday, will have the opportunity to perfect his second step in the direction of the Rolex Grand Slam.
The Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ begins today and the best horses and riders in the world have travelled to Calgary for the second leg in the year of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, to battle it out for the victory in the Major. Five days of jumping sport in a class of its own is thus guaranteed, as well as a fitting final: The “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex” on Sunday is endowed with an incredible two million Canadian Dollars in prize-money and challenges the elite of the jumping sport with one of the toughest five-star courses in the world.
Only 40 pairs have the chance to battle it out for the Major victory. In order to secure their ticket for the final they have to put in excellent performances in the qualifying classes that are being staged between today and Saturday. The last big rehearsal for the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex” and at the same time a highlight of the event is the Nations’ Cup on Saturday: Ten nations will be competing against each other and have sent their top riders to Canada for the competition: Eric Lamaze will be heading the team of the host nation. The Olympic gold medallist of 2008, already succeeded in claiming the victory at the Major in Spruce Meadows in 2007 and 2011 and recently proved that he is in superb form at the Olympic Games in Rio after winning the bronze medal in the individual classification.
The reigning Olympic gold medal-winning team, France, is sending two of its Rio gold medallists into the running: Kevin Staut and Roger-Yves Bost. And the USA will be represented at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, first and foremost by their Olympic silver medallists, Kent Farrington and McLain Ward. Team Great Britain will be supported by Scott Brash, who became a living legend last year in Calgary after going down in history as the first rider to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
The German delegation has got a first-class line-up too: Among others, the two Olympic bronze medallists and the reigning Vice European Champions, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Christian Ahlmann (the current number one in the world rankings), as well as the winner of the CHIO Aachen 2016, Philipp Weishaupt, will be on the starters’ list. With his outstanding horse “LB Convall”, Weishaupt has got his sights set on the second Major victory in succession and thus also the next step in the direction of the Rolex Grand Slam. However, winning the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex” would definitely also prove worthwhile for Steve Guerdat from Switzerland: As the winner of the CHI Geneva in 2015, he has the opportunity to claim the “two-out-of-three” bonus for two non-consecutive Major victories within one Grand Slam cycle.
For Belgium, among others the reigning Vice European Champion, Gregory Wathelet, as well as Olivier Philippaerts, the winner of the Major in 2012, are also set to compete. The Netherlands, the reigning World and European Champions, are basing their team around Gerco Schröder, who can always be relied on to win a medal.
Regardless of how many excellent achievements all of these riders have notched up so far: In the legendary “International Ring” of Spruce Meadows, actions speak louder than titles. Each of the participants in the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex” has the chance to go down in history as a Major winner. However, only the rider, who puts in an absolute top performance on Sunday afternoon and displays total harmony with his horse and the resolute will to triumph, will be able to master this ultimate equestrian sport challenge.
The Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, the second leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping in the year, is being staged in Calgary, Canada, from September 7th-11th. How the winner of the CHIO Aachen, Philipp Weishaupt, rates his chances of a second Major victory in succession and what challenges await the best riders in the world in the legendary “International Ring” in Spruce Meadows, are revealed in an interview with the 31-year-old German show-jumper.
There are emotional images from your Major victory in Aachen. When the pole of the last competitor fell in the stadium, you sank to your knees on the warm-up area...
Philipp Weishaupt: I was completely drained of energy at that moment, there was nothing else I could do. I just couldn’t believe it. It was simply an overwhelming feeling; in fact, it still is. It is without doubt a moment that I will never forget in my whole life. There are millions of riders, but only very few are granted such a victory. So, at the age of 31, I have already achieved something, that nobody will ever be able to take away from me.
That’s true! Aged just nine, your horse “LB Convall” is still a youngster too. The CHIO Aachen was the first Major in his life.
Weishaupt: “Convall” is simply an exceptional horse! In spite of his young years, he is extremely cool and has enormous scope. Prior to the CHIO Aachen, I spent four weeks in Spruce Meadows to get him used to grass rings. That was fantastic preparation and really did him good. Of course, it is an enormous advantage for the ‘Masters’ now, because he has already been there.
What is special about the Major in Calgary?
Weishaupt: There are not many such huge grass arenas like the one in Calgary, you have to ride in a special way, you have to let the horses canter much faster. The time between the jumps is tight, the material of the obstacles is incredibly solid and the course is built differently than at most shows. There are horses, who love that and there are others, who aren’t too keen at all. I am lucky here because “Convall” belongs to the first group.
Does he like indoor shows too? After all the third leg of the Rolex Grand Slam in December leads to the CHI in Geneva.
Weishaupt: Geneva is not a typical indoor show. Boasting an indoor area that is bigger than most outdoor rings, it has an absolute outdoor character. But apart from that, I think a really good horse wins whether it is indoors or out. Due to his temperament, “Convall” does prefer the big grass areas, but he is such a top quality horse that he will without doubt also be able to perform well indoors too.
So, he is exactly the right partner to claim the Grand Slam title?
Weishaupt: Well, I don’t want to stick my neck out too far! The Rolex Grand Slam is a super challenge, but I don’t think anyone will be able to follow Scott Brash’s lead in a hurry. There are perhaps a handful of riders, who have been able to win three Majors over the course of their entire life, but winning them in direct succession is something very, very, very special. I am actually delighted that I am able to compete in the Grand Slam at all. Nevertheless, I will be give it my best shot in Spruce Meadows and will try to win!
International Ring. A name that is awe-inspiring. It is the Main Stadium of Spruce Meadows. The place, where legends are born. Only exceptional athletes are allowed to enter it, because only the best of the best are allowed to compete on the enormous grass arena in the heart of the showgrounds.
The rider that jumps to victory here on the last day of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, will leave a very special impression behind. He will go down in the history of the sport as a Major winner.
Last year, the British show-jumper, Scott Brash, succeeded in doing so. But that wasn’t all either: In that split second when he jumped the last obstacle in the Grand Prix clear with his amazing horse “Hello Sanctos”, the world-class rider Scott Brash, became an equestrian sport legend. With his third Major victory in succession, he won the Rolex Grand Slam and thus claimed the throne of show jumping.
Now it is down to his challengers to reach for Scott Brash’s crown! Particularly one young man from Germany, because Philipp Weishaupt will be entering the arena as the winner of Aachen. He is placing his hopes on the stallion, “LB Convall”, who is extremely familiar with Spruce Meadows: Namely, he and Weishaupt spent four weeks in Calgary this summer – shortly before their victory at the CHIO Aachen.
“‘Convall’ was able to get used to the huge grass ring there and put in very good performances in the advanced jumping classes,” his 31-yearold rider explained. So, the chances are looking good for the second Major victory in succession for the German pair. But one certainly shouldn’t underestimate this man either: Steve Guerdat, the exceptional Swiss rider, who at the age of 34 has already won almost all of the prestigious titles in the sport. Olympic gold medallist, European Champion, many-time World Cup Final winner – so many victories, so many achievements. He has won the Major in Geneva three times already: In 2006, 2013 – and most recently in 2015.
Thus, the Rolex Grand Slam in Calgary is also a current topic for Guerdat too: Following the “two-out-of-three” mode, he could pick up a bonus for two victories at non-consecutive Majors. Hence, should Guerdat win the Grand Prix of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, he would receive 250,000 Euros in addition to the prize-money.
Yet, it is not the prospect of winning the bonus that is attracting Steve Guerdat to the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ at the foot of the Canadian Rocky Mountains again this year. “I love the sport and the huge events have always fascinated me. Aachen, Calgary and Geneva – they are Grand Prix that every rider wants to win at least once in a lifetime.”
That is precisely why they are all here: Olympic gold medallists, World Champions, shooting stars, the top riders in the world rankings. Because there is hardly any other more worthy place in the world to challenge one’s fortune. Here, in Spruce Meadows, where so many big success stories began. Who will ride to victory in the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex” on September 11th? Who will leave the legendary “International Ring” as winner of the Major?
Congratulations on your victory in the “Rolex Grand Prix” at the CHIO Aachen, which you certainly had to fight hard for…
You can say that again! When I walked the course it was clear to me that it was going to be very, very difficult today. The obstacles were very demanding, the time was very tight. As the first to go in the class, I didn’t have the best starting position either. Which is why I am all the more delighted that it ultimately sufficed for the victory. Everything simply went so well for me today, it was a perfect day. I have dreamt about winning here as long as I can remember. When I came to the CHIO Aachen the first time at the age of five and walked passed the winners’ board, I thought: I would like my name to stand there one day! But I never dreamt that this would become true. To be honest, I still can’t believe it.
You just spent four weeks in Calgary taking part in several international shows there in Spruce Meadows. Was that perhaps the key to your success? Did you bring the motivation from Calgary with you to Aachen?
Yes, that really helped me, and I believe it was decisive for my success. I was able to prepare my horse “LB Convall” excellently for the impressive atmosphere in Aachen, so that he felt at home here from the very beginning. That was precisely my plan and it certainly paid off!
How was the “Rolex Grand Prix” for you today?
It was simply phenomenal – from the very first moment through to the prize-ceremony. There is always a “full house” in Aachen, the crowd loves the sport. Then, that huge grass ring and the long history of the show. Being able to ride here is simply indescribable. I am especially proud to have won the “Rolex Grand Prix”, because Rolex simply stands for top sport. I can’t thank everyone enough for this unique day!
After this Major victory your personal Rolex Grand Slam has begun. How do you rate your chances of claiming the title?
What Scott Brash succeeded in doing last year was simply unique. To win two Majors in succession that alone is very, very difficult – not to mention the Grand Slam victory! Hence I am not expecting to follow Scott’s lead here. However, “Convall” is an exceptional horse. He is just nine years old and hasn’t competed at many top class shows yet. The fact that he was able to put in such a performance against the best pairs in the world here in Aachen, shows how special he is. So the chance is there!
So we will see you again at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in Calgary in September?
Definitely! I wanted to compete there anywhere, whatever the outcome here in Aachen was. Of course, thanks to the Major victory it is even more worthwhile now. I am looking forward to taking on this challenge!
Six days of show jumping in a class of its own, hundreds of thousands of euphoric visitors, a nail-biting final: The opening Major of the year in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping at the CHIO Aachen 2016 couldn’t have been better. Especially not for Philipp Weishaupt, who rode to victory in the “Rolex Grand Prix, the Grand Prix of Aachen” and thus celebrated the first Major triumph in his career.
The German rider left the entire present-day equestrian sport elite trailing behind him with “LB Convall” and relegated the Rolex Grand Slam winner of 2015, Scott Brash from Great Britain, and the Spanish top rider, Sergio Alvarez Moya, into second and third place, respectively, against the amazing backdrop of the sold-out Main Stadium. As winner of the Major in Aachen, Philipp Weishaupt now joins the ranks of those sport icons, who have written history at the most famous showground in the world: Nick Skelton, Christian Ahlmann and of course Scott Brash – to mention just the most recent entries on the legendary winners’ board of the “Rolex Grand Prix” of Aachen. Now, a further unforgettable name has been added to the list.
“I can’t really believe it at the moment,” commented a more than overwhelmed Philipp Weishaupt during the prize-giving ceremony. “When I walked the course, it was clear to me that it was going to be very, very difficult today. But then, everything simply went so well, it was simply a perfect day.” And precisely this day is perhaps the beginning of a chapter that could soon become the most important one in his career. Because today, on Sunday, July 17th, 2016 – three days before his 31st birthday – the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has begun for Philipp Weishaupt, the challenge for the most prestigious and most demanding trophy on the international equestrian sport circuit. The objective is to win the three Majors – the CHIO Aachen, the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ and the CHI Geneva – in direct succession. A bonus of one million Euros and an eternal place in the sport’s Hall of Fame awaits the rider, who succeeds in achieving this exceptional feat.
So, for Philipp Weishaupt, the next stop is going to be Calgary – at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ from September 7th- 11th, 2016.
The contest for the crown of the equestrian sport is entering a new round with the CHIO Aachen 2016, the first Major in the year in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, and now it has already been decided, which 40 athletes will be able to face the ultimate challenge in the “Rolex Grand Prix” on Sunday.
The best riders in the world had the opportunity to secure themselves a ticket for the grand final in three different classes: The Canadian Olympic gold medallist, succeeded in winning two of the qualifiers, the “Turkish Airlines Prize of Europe” on Wednesday and the “Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia” on Friday. As such, the crowd in Aachen can look forward to greeting him on Sunday together with Simon Delestre, who claimed first place in the first qualifier for the “Rolex Grand Prix” and who is also the current number one in the world ranking list, and the youngest Major winner of all time, Olivier Philippaerts: In 2012, the then 19-year-old rode to victory in the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’. Thanks to his excellent performances in the qualifiers – among others ranking third in the “Turkish Airlines Prize of Europe” – the Belgium rider now has the chance to battle it out for a further triumph in the Rolex Grand Slam.
In the “Mercedes Benz-Nations’ Cup” on Thursday evening, the winning team from Germany sovereignly secured themselves a place on the starting list for Sunday: Ludger Beerbaum, Christian Ahlmann, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Marcus Ehning have not only notched up a long list of Championship victories, each of them has already been able to win the Major in Aachen at least once. However, the US American and French riders, who brought a huge dose of excitement and nail-biting entertainment to the Main Stadium in Aachen on Thursday after engaging in a head-to-head race with Germany, are also among the favourites to win the “Rolex Grand Prix”. The top riders from the USA – Kent Farrington, McLain Ward, Beezie Madden, Laura Kraut and Lucy Davis as well as Pénélope Leprévost, Roger Yves Bost and Philippe Rozier – all three were members of the French team that won silver at the World Equestrian Games in 2014 – will undoubtedly also convince the crowd with top performances on Sunday.
Finally, the Rolex Grand Slam winner, Scott Brash from Great Britain; the Dutch multi-champions Gerco Schröder and Maikel van der Vleuten, as well as the Olympic gold medallist, Steve Guerdat will be among the prestigious line-up. And although a dream would come true for every rider if they succeed in claiming the victory in the “Rolex Grand Prix” – for Switzerland’s superstar much more is at stake: As winner of the CHI Geneva in 2015, Steve Guerdat could make his second Major victory in succession come true and would thus travel to Calgary in September as a hot candidate to take the Grand Slam title and win a bonus of one million Euros. “Corbinian is an incredibly talented horse with amazing potential,” said Steve Guerdat about the gelding, with whom he won the World Cup Final in April and who is his chosen horse for the “Rolex Grand Prix” on Sunday. “It is his first time in Aachen and we will have to wait and see how well he copes with the impressive atmosphere on Sunday. But he has already proven that nothing is too difficult for him!”
The first qualifier for the “Rolex Grand Prix” of the CHIO Aachen 2016 is over: The Canadian rider, Eric Lamaze, asserted himself with “Fine Lady” in the “Turkish Airlines-Prize of Europe” on Wednesday afternoon and relegated the current number one in the world ranking list, Simon Delestre from France, and the Belgian show-jumper, Olivier Philippaerts, into second and third place, respectively.
The athletes had to overcome 16 obstacles measuring up to 1.60 metres in height in the first big challenge of the Aachen Major. Steve Guerdat, winner of the CHI Geneva in 2015, wasn’t able to meet the requirements of the demanding course and had to retire with “Concetto Son”, so he wasn’t among the 14 clear rounds that reached the subsequent jump-off in the battle for the victory. However, this performance doesn’t reduce his chances of winning the “Rolex Grand Prix” on Sunday: As the Olympic gold medallist of 2012, Guerdat has already prequalified for the Final of the CHIO Aachen, for him winning the competition would mean his second Major victory in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. That is why he rested “Corbinian” on Wednesday, Guerdat’s current first choice for the “Rolex Grand Prix”, because the gelding already presented himself in good form on Tuesday in the opening jumping competition and mastered the course with ease without picking up any faults.
The next qualifier for the “Rolex Grand Prix” is a floodlit competition on Thursday evening: The riders have a second opportunity to secure themselves a place on the starting list of the Grand Prix if they achieve a top ranking in the “Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup”. The third and final qualifier is the “Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia” on Friday. Following this, we will know who the 40 participants are that have qualified for the “Rolex Grand Prix” of the Aachen Major on Sunday, which is endowed with one million Euros in prize-money.
There are just a few hours to go before the first episode of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping this year! The jumping competitions of the CHIO Aachen 2016 begin tomorrow on Tuesday with a warm-up in the Main Stadium. From Wednesday to Friday, the athletes will have the chance to secure themselves a place in the grand finale on Sunday afternoon, the “Rolex Grand Prix, the Grand Prix of Aachen”, which is endowed with one million Euros in prize-money.
The three qualifying jumping competitions alone are a hard trial for both horse and rider: Starting with the “Turkish Airlines Prize of Europe,” the main competition on Wednesday, the path leads to the starting list of the “Rolex Grand Prix”, via the “Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup” on Thursday evening and the “Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia”, the main competition on Friday. Only those riders, who manage to convince with an excellent placing in at least one of these competitions, will win one of the coveted 40 tickets for the final.
All of the top riders in the world ranking list will be battling it out to secure themselves a Major victory: The host country, Germany, is sending its best riders to the CHIO Aachen: Christian Ahlmann (ranks 2nd), Daniel Deußer (ranks 8th), Marcus Ehning (ranks 12th), Ludger Beerbaum (ranks 13th) and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (ranks 21st). The same is true of the French show-jumpers, who have three of the world’s current top ten riders: Simon Delestre, the current number one in the world ranking list, Pénélope Leprévost (ranks 4th) and Kevin Staut (ranks 7th). Incidentally, thanks to winning the bronze medal at the European Championships 2015 in Aachen, Delestre has already pre-qualified for the Grand Prix. The same applies for Gregory Wathelet from Belgium (ranks 10th), the reigning Vice European Champion, as well as for the current number three in the world ranking list, McLain Ward, who already has a place in the “Rolex Grand Prix” after taking the victory at the Pan American Games 2015. Among others, Kent Farrington (ranks 5th) and Beezie Madden (ranks 11th) will also be representing the USA.
Steve Guerdat has even pre-qualified twice – namely for claiming Olympic gold in 2012 and for his victory in this year’s World Cup Final. Since the Swiss rider is travelling to the CHIO Aachen as the winner of the Major in Geneva, all eyes will be particularly focused on him during the show: If he also succeeds in notching up the victory in the Grand Prix of Aachen, he will have achieved the second step in the direction of the Rolex Grand Slam and would then have to complete just one more hurdle at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in Calgary to take the Grand-Slam title.
Scott Brash knows what this phenomenal victory feels like: The current number six in the world ranking list went down in sporting history last year as the first and hitherto only winner of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. The British rider has also confirmed his participation at the CHIO Aachen and is also pre-qualified for the “Rolex Grand Prix” as winner of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in 2015.
Will Steve Guerdat be able to assert himself against the strong field of competitors? Or will we hail in a new Major winner after the Grand Prix of Aachen on Sunday afternoon? The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is looking forward to an exciting CHIO Aachen 2016!
“Winning a Major is an incredible feat!”
What are your objectives for the CHIO Aachen?
Steve Guerdat: Aachen is always an absolute highlight, every year. The stadium, the huge crowds and the interest of the media is unique. That in itself is fantastic motivation alone. Every rider wants to win here one day. But, of course, after winning in Geneva, a victory in Aachen this year is particularly important to me.
For then you will have taken a further step in the direction of the Rolex Grand Slam ...
Guerdat: Yes, and yet I still find it difficult to set myself the Grand Slam as a concrete goal, before actually having achieved the second step. It is a dream for me, but at present it is still too far out of reach. Winning one Major alone is already an incredible feat! I have succeeded in achieving that in Geneva three times, I have already come second in Calgary once and fifth in Aachen. I am very proud of these results. The Grand Slam is simply something unbelievable, only a few riders will ever achieve that.
How important is this initiative for your sport?
Guerdat: Aachen, Geneva and Calgary were always the main shows of the season for us riders. This is where you find the best sport and the most visitors. The Rolex Grand Slam has placed everything on a new level again. It is a unique format, which also promises even more excitement for the spectators, because they can route for the riders on their way to the next Major victory. This was clearly noticeable in Calgary last year. The whole crowd was behind Scott and it was a very special moment for everyone when he won the Grand Slam. It also attracted huge media interest. I think one can say that the whole sport profits from the Rolex Grand Slam.
The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is back in Aachen! In the first Major of the year, the top stars of the equestrian sport scene will once again be facing the ultimate challenge: Who is going to leave the most famous showground in the world as the winner of the “Rolex Grand Prix, the Grand Prix of Aachen”?
Nick Skelton, Christian Ahlmann and Scott Brash are the names of those sports idols, who have succeeded in eternalising their names on the legendary winners’ board of the CHIO Aachen since the premiere of the Rolex Grand Slam in the year 2013.
Whereby Scott Brash’s victory last year was of particular significance: Because the young Brit had travelled to Aachen as the winner of the Major in Geneva. On the Holy Grass of the Main Stadium he and his brilliant horse, “Hello Sanctos”, once again demonstrated their world class, when they reached the finish line clear in the fastest time in the jump-off of the “Rolex Grand Prix” in front of 40,000 spectators.
Scott Brash’s unique series of victories finally came to a climax in September 2015 at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in Calgary, where he also rode to victory in the Major. “It was just an incredible feeling when I won, because I had put all my sights, all my energy and all my efforts into that,” is how Scott Brash described that master feat that hailed in a new era of equestrian sport and turned him into a living legend at the tender age of 30: As the first rider ever to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
But soon a new challenger is to reach for the crown: At the CHI Geneva 2015 in December, it was the Swiss superstar, Steve Guerdat, who jumped to victory in the “Rolex Grand Prix”.
He put all his experience to good use with “Nino des Buissonnets” – that ingenious horse, who carried him to individual gold at the Olympic Games in 2012 – and after 2006 and 2013 won the Major in Geneva for the third time.
The Swiss rider hasn’t been able to assert himself against his fellow competitors at the CHIO Aachen so far – but he hopes this will change now: “The Rolex Grand Slam exerts an incredible fascination,” commented Steve Guerdat. “That is why I am top motivated to claim my second Major victory in Aachen.”
The Swiss show-jumper definitely has good chances of success, he has proved that with numerous important victories over the course of the season. However, in the star-studded field of participants in the “Rolex Grand Prix” of Aachen, every pair has the sporting class to jump to the top. But who will display the necessary nerves of steel and concentration to assert themselves in the electrifying atmosphere of the stadium? Who has the absolute will to win in the battle against the clock? Which pair will convince with their perfect harmony and united fighting spirit?
The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping welcomes the best riders in the world to the CHIO Aachen! Who is going to celebrate a major triumph on July 17th, 2016?
The team of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is mourning the founder of the world-famous equestrian venue “Spruce Meadows”, Ron Southern. He passed away on Thursday at the age of 85. The “Spruce Meadow” vision has meanwhile developed into one of the most famous showgrounds in the world. Together with the CHI Geneva and the CHIO Aachen, the Canadian Spruce Meadows jointly launched the “Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping”.
Congratulations on your victory in the “Rolex Grand Prix” at the CHI Geneva 2015. Isn’t that a great Christmas present?
Definitely. The Major in Geneva is very special for me, on a par with riding at Championships. I prepared myself beforehand very well and only competed my horses in the run-up to the event at targeted shows so that they are very fresh and in top form here. I am delighted about this victory. “Nino” is a unique horse, he is simply brilliant. I am totally happy!
You were the ninth rider to go in the jump-off, so you had to wait for seven more riders to finish before it was clear that you had won.
It felt like hours! It is like an eternity and you can’t do anything else apart from watch the remaining rides and hope that it suffices to take the victory.
And the whole crowd were on your side! What is it like when the entire arena cheers so emphatically when you enter the ring? Does the cheering spur you on?
Of course, it is a fantastic feeling when the crowd supports me so enthusiastically. Then, I don’t think about anything else, I concentrate totally on the course and giving it my very best shot. When things really do go well and the crowd cheer the clear round, it is unique. But I wasn’t at all sure whether my time would ultimately suffice. That is why I tried to keep a cool head, even though I was overjoyed then already.
After your Major victory in Geneva your personal Rolex Grand Slam has begun again. What does this competition mean to you?
Rolex’s commitment is very important for us riders. I believe without the long-term support of Rolex, our sport wouldn’t be where it is today. The Grand Slam is something very special, a unique challenge for every rider. The Majors in Geneva, Aachen and Spruce Meadows are classics on the equestrian sport circuit, which every rider strives to win. Everyone is focused on them.
So, your focus already lies on the next Major: the CHIO Aachen in July 2016?
No, no, definitely not already. Now, I am still absolutely focused on Geneva and I am going to celebrate!
It was his day, his crowd, his big victory! The Swiss national hero, Steve Guerdat, won the “Rolex Grand Prix” at the CHI Geneva. At the third and last Major of the year in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping at the Palexpo, the reigning Olympic gold medallist relegated Simon Delestre from France and the Canadian show-jumper Eric Lamaze into second and third place respectively.
Up against 16 world-class pairs in the jump-off, Steve Guerdat entered the ring with his top horse “Nino des Buissonnets” as the ninth to go. The Geneva crowd greeted him with a frenetic cheer, as if he had already won. After completing the course at breath-taking speed and jumping clear over the final obstacle, absolutely nothing could keep the spectators in their seats: They celebrated their hero, who after winning in 2010 and 2013, was able to notch up his third Major victory in Geneva. “I am delighted about this victory, my horse Nino is simply superb, the crowd really helped me and of course a bit of luck always has to be on your side,“ said an overjoyed Steve Guerdat after the prize-giving ceremony. “The Major in Geneva is one of the most important competitions for me, it has the same standing as a Championship in my eyes.”
After this victory, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has begun again for Steve Guerdat – he will once again be taking on the ultimate equestrian sport challenge. “The Majors in Geneva, Aachen and Spruce Meadows are classics on the equestrian sport circuit, which every rider strives to win. The additional opportunity of winning the Rolex Grand Slam provides extra motivation.”
Which is why the motto for the outstanding Swiss rider now is: Full speed ahead towards Aachen! Because Steve Guerdat will have the chance of clinching his second Major victory in succession there in July 2016.
The opening prelude is over, now it is time to continue writing history! The venue: Palexpo, the biggest indoor arena in the world. The protagonists: The top show jumping stars. The event: The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, the biggest challenge in the history of the equestrian sport.
40 riders have secured themselves a place in the “Rolex Grand Prix”, the Final at the CHI Geneva and every single one of them will give it their best shot to come out on top at the end of the day. Because it is not just about winning the Grand Prix, there is much more at stake: Whoever leaves the ring as the winner of this competition has mastered the first step on the way to the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
In total, there were four qualifiers for the “Rolex Grand Prix”. Roger-Yves Bost from France won two of them, Kent Farrington from the USA and the Swiss rider, Janika Sprunger, won one apiece. Their fellow competitors, who are also in the running to take the victory in the Major? The reigning double World and European Champion, Jeroen Dubbeldam from the Netherlands; the Olympic gold medallist, Steve Guerdat from Switzerland; the Swiss rider, Eric Lamaze from Canada and Ludger Beerbaum from Germany; the Vice-European Champion, Gregory Wathelet from Belgium; the Irish shooting star, Bertram Allen and of course the Rolex Grand Slam winner Scott Brash, who is hoping to defend his title. The starting list reads like a chronicle of successful names from the top sport. 40 big names on paper, all of whom want to write history on Sunday by winning the “Rolex Grand Prix”.
The CHI Geneva 2015 has only just begun. However, already on the first day of the show it became clear that the world elite of the show-jumping circuit are in top form for the third and final Major Show of the year in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
The victory in the “Credit Suisse Grand Prix” on Thursday evening went to the French rider, Roger Yves Bost, the European Champion in 2013. He was thus able to qualify directly for the “Rolex Grand Prix” on Sunday afternoon. But he won’t be the only one in the Final, the best 24 riders from this first qualifier, were also able to secure themselves a place in the competition on Sunday. They include the Canadian Olympic gold medallist, Eric Lamaze; the top German riders, Daniel Deußer, Christian Ahlmann and Ludger Beerbaum as well as the top French stars Patrice Delaveau, Simon Delestre, Penelope Leprevost and Kevin Staut. Having won Olympic gold in 2012, the local hero, Steve Guerdat, is also pre-qualified for the “Rolex Grand Prix”, so he was able to take things easy and rode a young horse in the “Credit Suisse Grand Prix”. The same applies for Scott Brash, the first and up until now only winner of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping: As last year’s winner, he too also has a place reserved in the “Rolex Grand Prix”, so he rode the youngster, “Hello Forever” on Thursday evening instead of his top horse “Hello Sanctos”. The British rider has plenty of opportunity to warm up “Sanctos” for the Grand Prix, for example on Friday evening: That is namely when the “Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final” is being staged and the top riders in the world rankings will battle it out to take the victory.
Things will be getting serious for the best show-jumpers in the world soon! Because tomorrow the CHI Geneva kicks off and over three days they will have the opportunity to qualify for the “Rolex Grand Prix”, the third Major of the year in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
40 pairs are allowed to compete in the competition on Sunday that is endowed with prize-money totalling 1.1 million Euros. As if that is not enough: Whoever leaves the ring on the afternoon of December 13th as the winner of the Grand Prix, has also mastered the first step in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
This biggest challenge in the equestrian sport unites the three most famous equestrian shows in the world – the CHI Geneva, the CHIO Aachen and the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ – in an extraordinary competition: The rider, who succeeds in winning all three Majors in direct succession, wins one million Euros in addition to the prize-money. But even two Major victories are worthwhile: In direct sequence this is rewarded with a 500,000 Euro bonus, for the “two out of three mode”, i.e. for victories at two non-consecutive Major shows, a 250,000 Euro bonus beckons.
A concept that attracts the top stars of the international show jumping sport and their best horses to the three events every year again and again – all of them with the same goal: To win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping and become a legend of the sport. Scott Brash was the first rider ever to achieve this outstanding feat. With his Major victories at the CHI Geneva 2014, at the “World Equestrian Festival” 2015 in Aachen and this September in Spruce Meadows, he made his personal Grand Slam perfect and wrote equestrian history in doing so.
And the Scottish rider will be in Geneva again this year for the CHI hoping to take the victory! As last year’s winner, Scott Brash has already pre-qualified for the Grand Prix together with the best riders of the most recent Championships, for example the Swiss Olympic gold medallist, Steve Guerdat, the reigning double World and European Champion, Jeroen Dubbeldam from the Netherlands, as well as the European Championships medal winners Gregory Wathelet from Belgium and Simon Delestre from France.
For all those riders, who have not automatically qualified, the battle for participating in the “Rolex Grand Prix” starts tomorrow on Thursday: The 20 best riders in the “Credit Suisse Grand Prix” qualify for Sunday. There are further chances to qualify in the “Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final” on Friday evening as well as in the “Coupe de Genève” and the “Geneva Classic” on Saturday.
On Saturday evening we will know the names of all 40 finalists, who are allowed to ride in the Grand Prix of Geneva. For whom will the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping begin on Sunday?
Interview with Rolex Grand Slam winner Scott Brash
He is a living legend: Scott Brash was the first rider ever to succeed in winning the Grand Prix in Geneva, Aachen and Spruce Meadows in direct succession and in doing so claimed the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping title. The British rider is now returning to the CHI Geneva from December 10th-13th, where he celebrated his first Major victory last year. The 30-year-old explained in an interview his experiences since his Grand Slam triumph in September, his plans for this year’s CHI in Geneva and why his employees always complain about him after Christmas.
In the meantime, your Rolex Grand Slam victory was three months ago. How have things been since then?
It’s been pretty busy really, it’s a very full calendar year now! It was such a high at the time; but I tried to very quickly get back into my work and focus on the remainder of the season. The team and I are now looking forward to 2016.
When you look back to September 13 – the day you won the Rolex Grand Slam – which moment springs to mind first?
The moment of realisation, when I knew I’d done it. It was a goal that I’d dreamt about and so to finally do it; after all the build-up, was a real mix of emotions. It’s obviously something that I’ll never forget.
At the press conference after the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, you said you would need time to take it all in and that you still couldn’t believe that you had won. When was the moment, when you really realised that you had claimed the Grand Slam title?
There are still times when I can’t believe what’s happened. I suppose it was just settling back in to everyday life and work and people asking me about it and congratulating me about it, that was when it was really sinking in. It’s just a great feeling in the back of your mind all the time, but in this game you have to keep looking ahead.
And that is precisely what we are going to do now – by looking ahead to the CHI Geneva next weekend. What is so special about the show for you?
Palexpo is a fantastic arena, which is great to ride in for both the riders and the horses and the atmosphere in the ring on “Rolex Grand Prix” day is a really special feeling. It really is one of my favourite shows of the year and I'm really looking forward to going again this year.
What is your goal this year? Will you be bringing your top horse, “Hello Sanctos”, to the CHI with you, whom you rode to victory there last year?
Yes, “Sanctos” will be making the trip over with me and I’m sure he’ll love the event as always. As for my goals, I just try to focus on the job at hand, but I will most certainly be trying to win the “Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final” and the “Rolex Grand Prix”, both of which will be extremely difficult classes to win again, but I'm still extremely hungry for more success in Geneva.
What about “Sanctos”? Is he in good form for further victories in Geneva?
“Sanctos” had a well-earned rest after our Grand Slam victory, but in the meantime he is back on the competition circuit again. At his last competition before Geneva, in Doha in mid-November, he jumped well, but we both made a couple of silly mistakes. But I always feel very confident with “Sanctos”, he is an incredible horse and he loves winning as much as I do.
But of course the others like winning too and the best riders and horses in the world will be competing in Geneva. Who are, in your opinion, the favourites to win the Rolex Grand Prix?
Rolf-Göran Bengtsson with “Casall” and Kent Farrington with “Voyeur” are both in great form at the moment. If these two pairs compete they will without doubt be among the favourites. But to be honest, there are so many good combinations around just now. I think anyone, who qualifies for the Grand Prix can win it, that’s what makes our sport so unique.
What is on your sporting agenda after Geneva?
It’s all eyes on “Olympia Horse Show” in London in terms of my immediate focus, as it is taking place the week after. But 2016 looks like a full calendar year again, so each horse will have different goals to aim for.
Is there enough time in your busy diary for a short Christmas break?
There’s not much time for holidays in this game, but I really enjoy being at home for Christmas. I like to send all my staff home and I do the horses and I really enjoy it. However the girls always complain that it takes them a bit longer to muck the horses out when they come back. It is very hard for me to keep up the standard they all set in my yard. It makes me appreciate them even more when they return!
Legends are born in Geneva! At the third and last Major Show of the year, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping returns to the location, where the most extraordinary triumph in sporting history all started exactly twelve months ago.
Here at the Palexpo, the largest indoor arena in the world, this most impressive merger between purpose and aura, the British show-jumper Scott Brash won the “Rolex Grand Prix” of the CHI Geneva 2014. It was a moment for eternity, when he crossed the finish line with his outstanding horse “Hello Sanctos” clear and in the fastest time. A moment full of luck, a moment of triumph. And it wasn’t the only one either: Brash‘s journey with Rolex had only just begun. Ahead of him lay Aachen and Spruce Meadows. To win the three big Majors of the equestrian sport in succession was his goal from then on, his big challenge. No rider had ever succeeded in doing so before him. Yet, Brash made the impossible possible: He won in Aachen, he won in Spruce Meadows and thus went down in history as the first winner ever of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
Brash is here again now to continue writing history: He wants to defend the title. “It is going to be difficult, but I will do everything necessary to stand up on the top step again,” assured the 30-year-old. Riding to victory at the Major in Geneva – one of the most demanding Grand Prix in the world – is the dream of all top riders.
In 2013, the Swiss local hero, Steve Guerdat, won the competition. Now he wants to reclaim the title, in front of his crowd, on his “piste”. “Geneva is my home show, riding here is something very special for me,” commented the Olympic gold medallist. “I will be on the offence, I will certainly give it my best shot to win the Grand Prix!”
But he is by no means on his own there: Ludger Beerbaum and Daniel Deußer from Germany, Jeroen Dubbeldam from the Netherlands, Kevin Staut, Pénélope Leprévost and Simon Delestre from France, Eric Lamaze from Canada, Bertram Allen from Ireland, Gregory Wathelet from Belgium, Kent Farrington from the USA – they are the big names of the equestrian sport, the best in the world ranking. They are the winners and runners-up of many Championships, who want to prove their skills to a crowd of 9,400 spectators in a huge arena spanning 5,400 square metres.
In 1926, Geneva hosted an international equestrian show for the first time. The Swiss metropolis has been the venue for equestrian sport in a class of its own ever since. Since the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping was founded in 2013, the CHI Geneva has ultimately become part of a new era: Three world-class shows. One million Euros in addition to the prize-money. A place in the hall of fame of the sport for eternity. Geneva, Aachen, Spruce Meadows.
Who is going to win the “Rolex Grand Prix”? Will Scott Brash succeed in carrying off this feat again? Whose name will be the title of the new chapter in equestrian sport history?
One thing is sure: The story will begin at the CHI Geneva 2015. Here, at the Palexpo, here with the best riders in the world faced with the probably biggest challenge of the equestrian sport.
The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has begun again!