Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping

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Kent Farrington, winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva 2017. Kent Farrington and Gazelle, winners of the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva 2017.

 

Congratulations on your victory in the Rolex Grand Prix of the CHI Geneva 2017! You came close a few times before, now you have finally succeeded in winning a Major.

Kent Farrington: I am overjoyed, but to be honest I am still in a state of shock. I have been trying to win this Grand Prix for so long. Now that I have finally done it, I find it hard to believe that it really is all over and that I left the show as the winner. It has brought the year to a fantastic close for me!


How difficult is it to assert oneself in the Rolex Grand Prix?

Farrington: I have jumped this class here many times and it is always very difficult. You compete against the top riders and the best horses in the world. The course is always very demanding and the time is tight. When I watched the first pair in the ring, I realised straightaway that it was going to be particularly hard this year. It really was a tough competition and that makes the victory even more valuable for me.


The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has now begun for you. The next leg is taking place in `s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands in March. Have you already been there?

Farrington: I took part in the World Cup final in `s-Hertogenbosch several years ago, but I have never ridden at The Dutch Masters. So, I am especially looking forward to it! It is one of the biggest indoor shows in the world and as is customary for a Grand Slam Major, the best horses and riders in the world will be competing there. So, I will make sure that I am well-prepared.


What is your plan up until then?

Farrington: First of all, I am flying to Florida where I will spend Christmas at home. We will certainly celebrate my Major victory there too. I have a wonderful team behind me, this victory wouldn’t have been possible without them. I will probably stay in Florida for the whole of the winter and then come back to Europe for The Dutch Masters. It will be a very tough job to win the Grand Prix there too, but I love challenges. I will definitely try my very hardest to master the next step in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

Kent Farrington riding Gazelle winning the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva 2017. Kent Farrington riding Gazelle winning the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva 2017.

 

Kent Farrington won the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHI Geneva 2017. In the last leg of the year of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, the US American jumped to victory on Sunday afternoon at the sold-out Palexpo and thus celebrated the first Major victory in his career.

“This is the one I’ve been aiming to win for years. I came close a couple of times and I am so happy at having won here in Geneva today. My horse jumped incredibly, the crowd was amazing, really supportive. A great way to finish the year for me,” commented Kent Farrington, who had saddled the eleven-year-old mare, Gazelle, for the Rolex Grand Prix.

The 36-year-old can now take on the ultimate challenge in equestrian sport, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping: The rider, who wins three Majors in succession, goes down in history as a Grand Slam Champion and picks up a bonus of one million Euros. “That’s a tall order and I am going to try best,” promised Kent Farrington with a view to the coming Grand Slam legs. The journey continues for him in March at The Dutch Masters in the Netherlands, when he will strive to claim his second Major victory in a row. If he triumphs there as well, he would be riding to take the Grand Slam title in July at the CHIO Aachen 2018 in Germany.

Philipp Weishaupt competed in Geneva as the current Grand Slam contender. Riding Asathir, the German show-jumper unfortunately did not reach the jump-off of the Rolex Grand Prix.

The Dutch Masters, the next Major of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, is being staged in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands from March 8th-11th, 2018.

The current Grand Slam contender, Philipp Weishaupt, riding Asathir during CHI Geneva 2017. The current Grand Slam contender, Philipp Weishaupt, riding Asathir during CHI Geneva 2017.

 

The last qualifier for the Rolex Grand Prix came to an end on Saturday evening and now we know which 40 riders will battle it out to claim the Major victory at the CHI Geneva on Sunday afternoon.

Starting with the two current contenders for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Philipp Weishaupt from Germany and Grégory Wathelet from Belgium, the starting list includes the current number one in the world, Kent Farrington from the USA; the reigning individual European Champion, Peder Fredricson from Sweden; the Canadian Olympic gold medallist, Eric Lamaze; the reigning double World Champion, Jeroen Dubbeldam from the Netherlands as well as Ireland’s top rider, Bertram Allen.

The Swiss Olympic gold medallist, Steve Guerdat, who has already jumped to victory in Geneva three times, is also on board together with last year’s winner, Pedro Veniss from Brazil, and the French Olympic team gold medallist, Kevin Staut.

Luciana Diniz will be representing Portugal in the ring and after coming second twice this year, both in Aachen and in Calgary, she will be fighting to take the first Major victory in her career.

The Rolex Grand Prix begins on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. (CET). The complete competition will be broadcast live and for free on the website of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping at www.rolexgrandslam.com.

Gregory Wathelet and Phillipp Weishaupt during the interview at CHI Geneva 2017 Gregory Wathelet and Phillipp Weishaupt during the interview at CHI Geneva 2017

At the CHI Geneva 2017 Philipp Weishaupt and Grégory Wathelet have the chance of claiming their second Major victory this year. An interview with the two Grand Slam candidates about fighting spirit, headstrong partners and prestigious Grands Prix that every rider wants to win once in a lifetime.

 

The competitions at the CHI Geneva began yesterday. What was the atmosphere like here at the Palexpo?

Grégory Wathelet: Simply super! The atmosphere here is fantastic, the crowd is incredible. It is simply a really good show.
Philipp Weishaupt: Absolutely fantastic. We are really enjoying coming here every year, because we simply know what awaits us.


Yesterday the first qualifier for the Rolex Grand Prix already took place. How did it go for you?

Wathelet: It went really well for me. I wanted to qualify for the Grand Prix as soon as possible and coming fourth yesterday meant that I succeeded in doing so. As such, a bit of the pressure is off and now I can concentrate on the Grand Prix on Sunday.
Weishaupt: I rode a young horse in the qualifier yesterday, the eight-year-old mare, Call me Eva, and I was a bit unlucky. The first half of the course went well then I risked too much in the turn to the upright and had a refusal. That was my mistake. But I am optimistic that I will be able to qualify for the Rolex Grand Prix this evening, when I ride my top horse, Asathir.


Does one have a different attitude when competing at such a show as the current Grand Slam contender? Is there more pressure?

Wathelet: Of course. Philipp can win more money here in Geneva than me, so he is under more pressure. (both laugh) No, seriously: Of course, we think about the Grand Slam, but at the end of the day it is the important Grand Prix that we want to win, whether we get a bonus for it or not.
Weishaupt: That’s exactly how I see it too. The prize money always plays a role, but primarily as a top rider you want to win the Grand Prix of Geneva once in your life. The bonus would be super, but all 40 riders will give it their best shot to win. I will do the same, but without thinking about the bonus. If I succeed, then so be it. And if not, life carries on and I will try again next year. 


Which horses do you plan to ride in the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday? 

Wathelet: I will ride Corée, whom I won in Aachen with in July. I have been taking things a bit easier with her over the past weeks so that she is top fit here in Geneva. I will ride her in the Credit Suisse Grand Prix this evening, then she will have a day’s rest and on Sunday we will take on the challenge in the Grand Prix.
Weishaupt: If I qualify for Sunday, I will ride Asathir. She has performed very well over the last few weeks and she loves such big indoor halls like the one here in Geneva. Yesterday I jumped her in a small class and she felt great. I will also be competing with her this evening in the Credit Suisse Grand Prix, and we will hopefully secure our ticket for the Rolex Grand Prix.


If you compare your two top horses with each other, are they similar?

Wathelet: To be honest, I don’t know Philipp’s horse that well, so I can only speak for my mare. She is simply incredible, but incredibly complicated too. So, a real woman! (laughs) But I know she can jump all courses and win everything, if she only lets me ride well enough.
Weishaupt: I don’t think the two of them have much in common, rather the opposite. Perhaps one could say that both have a very strong character. They like to go their own way. But I am in the fortunate position that my mare is very easy to ride. Grégory has to work a bit harder there. 


How about the two of you? Are you similar types of riders?

Weishaupt: It would be great to ride as well as Grégory one day. He can simply steer a horse two seconds faster round a course than anyone else and this is a gift that only very few riders have in the world. It is amazing when you look at the number of different horses he has ridden to victory with.  I hope I will be able to keep pace with him one day.
Wathelet: I think we are actually quite similar. Every rider at this level has to dispose of certain attributes: He has to be well-organised. He has to take what he does really seriously. But, above all, he has to be ambitious, very ambitious! A real fighter. If you don’t seriously want to win at this level, then you will never have a chance of winning. I think Philipp and I have this fighting spirit and that is why we have already been able to win important Grand Prix’s now and again.


How difficult is it going to be for you on Sunday to win the Rolex Grand Prix and thus a further Grand Slam Major? about the two of you? Are you similar types of riders? 

Weishaupt: I don’t think anyone will succeed in doing what Scott Brash did two years ago with his Grand Slam victory, any time soon. There are perhaps five active riders who succeeded in winning three Majors in their career and in some cases 20 years lay between the victories. Winning more than one Major within one season is a huge challenge. But I have a really good horse and will do my very best.
Wathelet: When the Rolex Grand Slam was brought to life and we riders heard about the mode for the first time, we thought it would be impossible to achieve this. Then came Scott and succeeded in pulling this feat off straightaway. So we learned that it is indeed possible. But as Philipp already just said, it is very, very difficult. Every rider dreams of winning these Grands Prix at least once in their careers. We can see that this weekend: All of the big names are here with their top horses. Of course, we all hope and dream of winning the Grand Slam Majors and ideally within one year. But even if several years lie between, it still remains a fantastic achievement. Just like coming fourth or fifth in the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday. That would also be a wonderful result considering the line-up of riders.
Weishaupt: It is definitely going to be a tough competition in any case and whatever the end result is going to be, I am sure we are going to see excellent sport.

The last Major of the year 2017 is in full swing: The best show-jumpers in the world have been competing against each other at the CHI Geneva in Switzerland since Thursday. The first starting places for the Rolex Grand Prix that is endowed with prize money of 1.2 million Swiss Francs have already been allocated.

In the first qualifier, the Credit Suisse Geneva Classic on Thursday evening, the four best riders secured themselves a ticket for the Grand Prix on Sunday. The Dutch show-jumper, Harrie Smolders, rode to victory with Zinius. Abdel Said from Egypt with Hope van Scherpen Donder, the US American Laura Kraut with Deauville S and Grégory Wathelet from Belgium with Eldorado van het Vijverhof secured second to fourth place, respectively.

Grégory Wathelet, the winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at this year’s CHIO Aachen, has the chance of claiming a Grand Slam bonus in Geneva: If he wins the Grand Prix on Sunday, it will be his second non consecutive Major victory within his Grand Slam cycle and he will collect a 250,000-Euro bonus.

Whereas Wathelet proved to be in top form in the opening class of the show, the first qualifier didn’t go well for the current Grand Slam contender, Philipp Weishaupt. After his triumph in Calgary in September, the German rider, who has the prospect of winning his second Major in succession here at the CHI Geneva, wasn’t yet able to secure himself a place on the starting list for the Rolex Grand Prix on the first day.

The riders still have three further occasions to qualify for the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday at 2.30 p.m : The Credit Suisse Grand Prix on Friday at 7.15 p.m, the Coupe de Genève on Saturday at 12.15 p.m and the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final at 8:30 p.m. It´s only after this last class that we will know the names of the 40 qualified pairs competing for the Major of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

0712_Grégory Wathelet and Eldorado van het Vijverhof competing in the Credit Suisse Geneva Classic at CHI Geneva 2017 Grégory Wathelet and Eldorado van het Vijverhof competing in the Credit Suisse Geneva Classic at CHI Geneva 2017

“Claiming the victory in Geneva will be a huge task”

 

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is returning to Switzerland for the last Major in the year: The best show-jumpers in the world will be competing against each other from December 7th-10th at the CHI Geneva 2017. An interview with the current Grand Slam contender, Philipp Weishaupt, who will be striving to claim his second Major victory in succession.

You won the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHIO Aachen in 2016. And recently in September you jumped to victory in the Grand Prix at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’. 32 years old and you have already notched up two Major victories – that is an impressive achievement …

Philipp Weishaupt: Definitely. Everyone, who starts show jumping, dreams about two things: About Championships and about the legendary Grands Prix like Aachen and Calgary. I am extremely proud to have already won these two competitions at my age. 


What does the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping represent in the jumping sport? 

Weishaupt: The four Majors that the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping encompasses, are indeed the four best shows on the show jumping circuit. Assessed individually, each of the shows enjoy a special reputation, has its own charm and specific challenges. Anyone, who wants to win the Grand Slam, has to prove himself under completely different conditions. That is what makes the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping so unique in the jumping sport and what makes it so very special for us riders. 


You will be competing in Geneva as the current Grand Slam contender. What is different about the two indoor Majors compared to Aachen and Calgary? 

Weishaupt: Aachen and Spruce Meadows probably have the largest grass arenas in the world. Due to this fact alone completely different conditions prevail there compared to at the indoor shows on sand in Geneva and ’s-Hertogenbosch. In ’s-Hertogenbosch, for example, the arena is much, much smaller, so the agility of the horse and rider are much more decisive here. Geneva on the other hand has relatively little to do with the typical character of an indoor show in terms of the riding feeling. Due to the huge arena it is more like a roofed outdoor show, just like in Aachen or Calgary there is plenty of space to canter forwards. That suits me and my horses very well. 


How difficult will it be for you to assert yourself against your fellow riders in Geneva and win the second Major in succession? 

Weishaupt: That is a huge task, but precisely because it is so difficult, is what makes taking on this challenge such particular fun. Qualifying for the Grand Prix is the first big obstacle you have to overcome, because you have to ride against the strongest pairs in the world and ultimately only the best 40 from the qualifiers of the previous days can make it onto the starting list for the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday. Once you have mastered this obstacle, you have to make sure that your horse has enough energy left for the actual highlight of the show and that it is top fit when you enter the ring for the Grand Prix. Only if this is the case, is it possible to ride flat out and with a little bit of luck leave the ring as the Major winner. 

Philipp Weishaupt, the current contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Philipp Weishaupt, the current contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

1120_Palexpo The Palexpo in Geneva, the largest indoor arena in the world.

            

CHI Geneva 2017: December 7th-10th, Palexpo, Geneva (SUI)

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is entering the next round: The best riders in the world are travelling to the banks of Lake Geneva for the last Major in the year to face the ultimate challenge of the equestrian sport once again.

Since the first international show in the year 1926, the CHI Geneva has been considered a synonym for jumping sport at the highest level and tradition that comes to life. The names of the winners of the famous Rolex Grand Prix will certainly remain unforgotten.

Last year a Brazilian showjumper wrote history in Geneva: Riding his top horse Quabri de l’Isle, Pedro Veniss asserted himself against the international superstars and celebrated his first ever Major victory at Palexpo, the biggest indoor arena in the world. “It is the best thing ever, the biggest achievement in my career,” is how the 34-year-old Veniss described his outstanding performance almost exactly one year ago, which “made a childhood dream come true” and ensured that his name hit the headlines.

However, recently the name of a young German rider made the headlines in connection with the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping: In September, Philipp Weishaupt won the Grand Prix at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2017 and will thus be competing in Geneva as the current Grand Slam contender. A scenario that the 32-year-old is already familiar with, since he also won the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHIO Aachen in 2016. Back then, he didn’t succeed in picking up a Grand Slam bonus, because he didn’t finish first at either of the subsequent Majors. However this is all going to change now: “The fact that I have been able to win the two outdoor Majors has awaken my ambition all the more to win the two indoor Majors. It is going to be difficult, but I am going to try my very hardest,” assured Philipp Weishaupt. If he succeeds in jumping to the top again in Geneva, he would be riding for the Grand Slam title in the Netherlands at The Dutch Masters in March 2018.

So, it goes without saying that all eyes will be cast upon Philipp Weishaupt, when he enters the ring for the Rolex Grand Prix on December 10th. But he won’t be the only rider the spectators will be keeping a close eye on: Grégory Wathelet from Belgium was able to win the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen in July and thus has the opportunity in Geneva to claim a 250,000 Euro bonus for two Major victories within one Grand Slam cycle. Not to mention the public’s favourite, Steve Guerdat: The Swiss Olympic gold medallist has already managed to ride to victory in the Geneva Major three times, most recently in the year 2015. He will no doubt be extremely keen to have his name eternalised on the winner’s list of the Rolex Grand Prix again. Who is going to go down in history as Major winner at the CHI Geneva in 2017?

“It isn’t possible to describe the feeling in words”

Philipp Weishaupt, winner of the CP ‚International‘, presented by Rolex at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2017. Philipp Weishaupt, winner of the CP ‚International‘, presented by Rolex at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2017.

On Sunday, Philipp Weishaupt won the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex, the Grand Prix of  the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2017 and was able to celebrate the second Major victory in his career after his triumph in the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHIO Aachen 2016. An interview with the 32-year-old German rider about his latest sensational result in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

 

Congratulations on your victory in the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex, the Grand Prix of the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2017! Other riders dream about winning a Major their whole lives long, you are now celebrating your second win. Are you as elated as the first time round?

Philipp Weishaupt: Definitely! Aachen and Calgary, these are two Grands Prix that every rider wants to win once in their life. I simply can’t describe in words the feeling of having won both in my comparably young career! My sincere thanks go to my horse LB Convall, who contributed so much towards these victories. Without him they wouldn’t have been possible. He has simply incredible quality! When we won in Aachen, LB Convall was just nine years old and at the start of his career. The victory came as a surprise for many people and made him famous on the international circuit overnight. In Calgary, we were among the favourites from the very beginning and it wasn’t exactly easy for me to fulfil this role. But LB Convall actually did make it easy for me. He gave me a fantastic feeling throughout the whole week of the show and he jumped superbly on Sunday.


After all he knows Spruce Meadows very well…

Weishaupt: Indeed. At the young age of ten LB Convall has already been to Calgary five times. LB Convall simply loves the “International Ring”. He feels particularly at home on such a huge grass arena. We spent five weeks competing at the summer show series here in Spruce Meadows this year and last. That was always great preparation for the CHIO Aachen and of course also for the ‘Masters’. 


In the next two legs of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping you will however have to assert yourself in an indoor arena and on sand. How do you rate your chances at winning a further Major?

Weishaupt: I believe in LB Convall’s quality, also indoors, and will of course prepare him as well as I can for the indoor shows. But we can train as hard as possible and be in fantastic form, but at the end of the day we still need that extra bit of luck on top to win a Major. What Scott Brash pulled off two years ago, namely three Major victories in a row, was sensational and probably no one will be able to repeat this feat in a hurry. But the Grand Slam legs are the four best shows in the world. Uniting the two best indoor shows and the two best outdoor shows is something very special and every rider dreams of winning the Grand Slam. I will certainly concentrate all my energy on this goal!

Philipp Weishaupt and Philipp Weishaupt and "LB Convall" winning the "CP ‘International’ Grand Prix presented by Rolex" at the Spruce Meadows 'Masters' 2017, Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Pascal Renauldon

Philipp Weishaupt has won the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex, the Grand Prix of the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2017. The German rider asserted himself in the saddle of LB Convall on Sunday afternoon after two rounds against the top stars of the international show jumping sport and thus triumphed in the second leg of the year of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. After having won the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHIO Aachen in 2016, this was the second Major victory in the career of the 32-year-old show-jumper.

“It is impossible to describe the feeling of winning here in words! My sincere thanks go to my horse LB Convall, without him I certainly wouldn’t be standing here as the winner. He has simply incredible quality,” stated Philipp Weishaupt, who was the only rider to finish double clear after both rounds, relegating Luciana Diniz (POR) with Fit For Fun 13 and the American McLain Ward with HH Azur into second and third place, respectively. Philipp Weishaupt will now once again take on the ultimate challenge in the show jumping sport, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping: The rider, who succeeds in winning three equestrian Majors directly in succession, goes down in history as the Rolex Grand Slam Champion and receives a bonus of one million Euros. So, should Philipp Weishaupt manage a further Major victory in December at the CHI Geneva 2017, he will be riding to take the Grand Slam title in March 2018 at The Dutch Masters in ´s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands. “What Scott Brash pulled off two years ago, namely three Major victories in a row, was sensational and probably no one will be able to repeat this feat in a hurry. But I will certainly concentrate all my energy on trying to do so,” promised Philipp Weishaupt with a view to the next legs of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

Grégory Wathelet also gave it his very best shot in Calgary, nevertheless the winner of the Rolex Grand Prix of the CHIO Aachen 2017 simply wasn’t able to claim his second consecutive Major victory at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’: The Belgian rider excelled with convincing performances in the ring throughout the week of the show. However, on Sunday Wathelet and his stallion Eldorado van het Vijverhof finished 29th in the rankings of the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex after picking up eight faults in the first round.

The outcome of the Grand Prix wasn’t optimal for Pedro Veniss either, who after claiming the gold ribbon in the Rolex Grand Prix of the CHI Geneva 2016, could have picked up a 250,000 Euro bonus in Calgary for two Major victories within one Grand Slam cycle: the 34-year-old had one fence down in the first round with his top horse, Quabri de l’Isle, and also collected one penalty point for exceeding the time, which ultimately meant 22nd place for the Brazilian show jumper.

The qualifiers are over, the starting list has been printed: 50 world-class pairs will take on the ultimate challenge on Sunday in the legendary “International Ring” of Spruce Meadows and will battle it out to claim the victory in the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex that is endowed with prize-money to the value of three million Canadian dollars.
Two rounds in the ring at five-star level have to be mastered in this leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. If at the end of the two rounds several pairs are still clear, a jump-off will decide, who carries off the Major victory.

The field of participants promises a competition of superlatives. First and foremost, the current Grand Slam contenders Grégory Wathelet from Belgium and Pedro Veniss from Brazil, the present number one in world ranking list Kent Farrington from the USA, the Grand Slam Champion of 2015 and last year’s Major winner Scott Brash from Great Britain and the Canadian Olympic gold medallist Eric Lamaze have all qualified for the Grand Prix. The spectators can additionally look forward to the team Olympic gold medallist Kevin Staut from France, the Major winner of Aachen 2014 Christian Ahlmann from Germany, the recent team European Champion Cian O’Connor from Ireland, the Italian Lorenzo de Luca (current number two in world ranking list), the Swiss Olympic gold medallist Steve Guerdat, the reigning team World Champion Maikel van der Vleuten from the Netherlands and the top female show-jumper Luciana Diniz who rides for Portugal – to mention just a few of the biggest names of the jumping sport that are also found on the starting list of the Grand Prix.

The first round of the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex” starts at 12 noon local time (UTC/GMT -6:00) on Sunday. The entire competition will be broadcast live on the Internet: All of the spectators from Canada can watch who is going leave the arena as the Major winner of Calgary on CBC (www.cbc.ca/sports), starting at 12 noon local time (UTC/GMT -6:00.) or on the website of Spruce Meadows (www.sprucemeadows.com). For viewers from all other countries in the world, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is also making a livestream available on its website at www.rolexgrandslam.com also from 12 noon local time onwards (UTC/GMT -6:00).

World No.1 Kent Farrington and World No.1 Kent Farrington and "Voyeur" at the Spruce Meadows 'Masters' 2017, Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof

Grégory Wathelet and „Eldorado van het Vijverhof” Grégory Wathelet and „Eldorado van het Vijverhof” competing in the “Cana Cup” at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2017

Over the coming days the best riders in the world will be competing at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2017, the second leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, in Calgary, Canada and on Thursday the current Grand Slam contenders Grégory Wathelet and Pedro Veniss were already able to secure themselves a starting place in the Grand Prix on Sunday.

Grégory Wathelet, winner of the last Grand Slam leg in Aachen in July, finished third in the “Cana Cup” on Thursday afternoon and thus claimed one of the 50 tickets available for the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex”, which is endowed with prize-money totalling three million Canadian dollars. “My horse ‘Eldorado’ is in fantastic form and now that we have succeeded in qualifying for the Grand Prix, my top priority over the next few days is to keep him fresh and motivated to ensure that we enter the ring on Sunday under optimal conditions,” was how the Belgian rider described his plans up until Sunday, when he will strive to claim his second Major victory in succession. If Grégory Wathelet manages to triumph in the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex”, it would mean he will be competing for the Grand Slam title at the CHI Geneva in December.

Pedro Veniss, the winner of the “Rolex Grand Prix” at the CHI Geneva 2016, has the chance to win a 250,000 Euro bonus in the Grand Prix of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2017 on Sunday for two Major victories within one Grand Slam cycle. The Brazilian show-jumper was also able to prove that he is one of the favourites to win the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex”: He namely came fourth in the “Cana Cup”, which means he has also secured himself a starting place in the Grand Prix on Sunday. “I am very satisfied with today’s result,” said Pedro Veniss after the “Cana Cup”. “My horses are in good shape and I hope I will be able to put in a good performance in the Grand Prix on Sunday.”

Four qualifications for the Grand Prix have already taken place, there are still three to come: On Friday the riders have the opportunity to jump their way onto the starting list for the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex” in two different classes – in the “Friends of the Meadows Cup” and in the “Atco Six Bar”. The last tickets will be awarded in the “BMO Nations’ Cup” on Saturday. Then, we will know all 50 pairs, who will be battling it out on Sunday to seize the Major victory in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

The picture enclosed shows the Rolex Grand Slam Trophy in the The Rolex Grand Slam Trophy in the "International Ring" of Spruce Meadows.

Tomorrow, on Wednesday, the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in Calgary, Canada, the second leg in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, kicks off and the first starting places for the Grand Prix on Sunday will already be awarded on the first day of the show.

The riders have the opportunity to qualify for the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex”, which is endowed with prize-money totalling three million Canadian dollars, in two competitions every day from Wednesday to Friday. The last tickets will be earned during the Nations’ Cup on Saturday. Hereafter all of the 50 pairs that are allowed to battle it out for the Major victory on Sunday will be known.

The top riders from 19 nations in total have announced their participation. The two equestrian sport legends Eric Lamaze and Ian Millar are heading the field for the host country, Canada. Among others, the current number one in the world ranking list, Kent Farrington, as well as Beezie Madden, this year’s World Cup Final winner McLain Ward and Lauren Hough have travelled in from the neighbouring country, the USA. The entire European elite has also made the long journey to Canada: Last year’s winner Scott Brash (GBR), Kevin Staut (FRA), Christian Ahlmann (GER), Lorenzo de Luca (ITA), Steve Guerdat (SUI), Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP), Henrik von Eckermann (SWE), Cian O`Connor (IRE), Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) and Luciana Diniz (POR) are just a few of the famous names that will be representing the European flags in Calgary.

Of course, the two current contenders of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping will also be on board in the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’: The Belgian rider Grégory Wathelet could succeed in taking the next step towards winning the Grand Slam here in Calgary. If, after his victory in the “Rolex Grand Prix” of the CHIO Aachen in July, he is now also able to win the “CP ‘International‘, presented by Rolex”, this would be his second Major victory in succession, which would mean he would be riding to claim the Grand Slam title at the CHI Geneva in December. At the latter Major, Pedro Veniss was on the top step of the winner’s podium last year. A triumph in Calgary would thus earn the Brazilian rider a bonus of 250,000 Euros for two Major victories within one Grand-Slam cycle.

However, first of all each of the athletes has to master the qualifying phase: Everything kicks off on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. local time with the “Telus Cup”, where the three best placed riders can win a direct ticket for the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex” on Sunday.

“Everyone has respect for a Major victory!”

The picture enclosed shows Gregory Wathelet and The picture enclosed shows Gregory Wathelet and "Corée", winners of the "Rolex Grand Prix" at CHIO Aachen 2017.

It is time once again! The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is welcoming the best riders in the world to the second Major of the year in Calgary, Canada: At the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ from September 6th-10th the Belgian show-jumper, Grégory Wathelet, will particularly be the focus of attention, because as the current contender of the Grand Slam title, he will be striving to claim his second Major victory in succession. The 36-year-old reveals in the following interview what goals he has set himself for the coming leg of the Rolex Grand Slam, what challenges the horse and rider are faced with in Spruce Meadows and why September 10th is to be his big day on two counts. 

 

Your triumph in the “Rolex Grand Prix” at the CHIO Aachen 2017 was your first Major victory. A special milestone in your career?

Grégory Wathelet: Definitely. It is the dream of every rider to be eternalised on the winners board in Aachen and for me it is something really special to have my name on that list. A Major victory is different to other Grand Prix victories. Something that everyone has respect for, everyone congratulates you. To see my team and my horse owners so happy in Aachen, was the best feeling in the world for me. 


With this victory your Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has now begun.

Wathelet: I am delighted to take on this challenge! It was a great thing for us riders when the Grand Slam was brought into being, after all it unites the best shows in the world. Everyone tries to perform even better in the Majors, ride even a little stronger. I now have the opportunity to really prove myself in the Grand Slam and I am very much looking forward to the coming legs!


What is special about the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’?

Wathelet: It is a very exceptional show in a place that we riders actually aren’t used to any more: The atmosphere is unique, full of history and tradition, as is the case in Aachen for example. Spruce Meadows is nevertheless different to all the other Grand Slam Majors: The obstacles are built differently, the course design is extraordinary. Everything appears bigger and mightier, for the horses too. You need a horse that isn’t overwhelmed by these dimensions. That’s why I rely on “Eldorado”. He already demonstrated his quality in Calgary last year and in the meantime we have added several very good results to the list at other shows. He is a horse that can jump over everything, anywhere. 


It is Grand Prix day in Calgary on September 10th – and your birthday! What do you want for your birthday?

Wathelet: The victory, of course! (laughing) No, seriously it is pure coincidence that these two events fall on the same day, but I try not to think about it too much. I simply want to be as good in the ring as I can and then see what happens. The class will be difficult, the competition will be tough. To be honest,  my chance of winning the Grand Prix is exactly as high or low as it is for any of the other riders. Everyone wants to win, everyone will compete with their best horse. But I will certainly exploit my chance to the full. I don’t want to regret anything later! I will arrive in Calgary with top-trained horses and will fight hard to make sure that September 10th is going to be a really big day for me!

The picture enclosed shows the International Ring of Spruce Meadows. It can be used free of charge (picture: Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping/Kit Houghton) International Ring of Spruce Meadows

When sport writes history, then an athlete has become a hero, a victory turns into a triumph, a venue into a symbol. In this respect Spruce Meadows is legendary.

The best riders in the world have been meeting up at the impressive equestrian centre at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Canada since 1976 to compete against each other at the highest level. The Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in September, a leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, is the pinnacle of the show season. The rider, who leaves the “International Ring” as the Major winner after the Grand Prix, has secured himself a place in the hall of fame of the equestrian sport.

In 2016, it was Scott Brash, who was able to carry off the victory in the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex”. Just like the year before, when the British rider succeeded in claiming the legendary triumph in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2015: As the first rider ever, Brash won three Majors in direct succession and thus secured himself the Grand Slam title.

Grégory Wathelet would be only too delighted to follow his lead: After riding to victory in the “Rolex Grand Prix” at the CHIO Aachen 2017, the Belgian rider will head for Calgary as the current Grand Slam contender. If he is allowed to not only celebrate his 37th birthday on September 10th, 2017, but also his second consecutive Major victory, it will mean Wathelet would be competing in Geneva in December to take the Grand Slam title.

“Every rider dreams of winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. The Majors are the best and most difficult shows in our sport. You have to compete against the strongest pairs in the world and I know that it will be very difficult to also win in Calgary. But for me this is now perhaps a unique opportunity and I will put all my energy into it,” promised Wathelet, who was able to notch up his best placing in Calgary so far two years ago, when he came sixth in the Grand Prix.

Pedro Veniss also has nice recollections of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2015, because he finished third in the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex”. In 2016, the Brazilian rider also put in a highly successful performance at the show and ultimately ranked eighth in the Grand Prix. This year, he was already able to record a Grand Prix victory at five-star level at Spruce Meadows during the summer series.

There couldn’t be a better time for Veniss to jump to the top in Calgary again. Since he won the “Rolex Grand Prix” at CHI Geneva last year, he now has the chance of picking up a bonus for two Major victories within one Grand Slam cycle. “My horses are well prepared and they already jumped fantastically here in the summer. I believe in our chances,” the 34-year-old stated. “But ultimately the decision will be taken in the ring.”

Scott Brash, Grégory Wathelet, Pedro Veniss – these are just three of the big names, who want to prove themselves at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2017. But who will indeed succeed in claiming the Major victory on September 10th? In the end, the sport will write its own history and a new chapter in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

Interview with Major winner Gregory Wathelet

On Sunday, Gregory Wathelet claimed the victory in the “Rolex Grand Prix” at the CHIO Aachen 2017. In an interview, the Belgian rider talked about the fascination of Aachen, the material that Major winners are made of and his birthday plans.

 

Congratulations on winning the Major in Aachen! Tell us about your “Rolex Grand Prix” experience!

Gregory Wathelet: It was simply fantastic! The atmosphere in Aachen is always unique, just like the crowd. It is a really special feeling every time when one rides into the Stadium, not at all comparable with the other shows one competes at every weekend. Everyone knows in advance that the “Rolex Grand Prix” is going to present difficult challenges and it was no different this time either. The horses have to convince with their scope, technique and speed. I am incredibly proud of my mare. I don’t think one could put it down to luck. I believe “Coree” simply jumped exceptionally. Today’s victory was down to her. Thanks to her my name is now entered on the winners’ board in Aachen and that is the most magnificent gift ever for me!


When did you realise that Sunday could perhaps become your day?

Wathelet: To be honest not until the final rider, Laura Kraut, had taken the last obstacle in the jump-off. Everything was open until the very end, all competitors were highly-motivated. The Grand Slam Majors are the best and most difficult shows in the world. It doesn’t suffice to give just 100 percent. One has to give 500 percent and simply hope that it is enough. This time we pulled it off. 


This victory means your personal Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has now begun. So, where does it go from here for you?

Wathelet: The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is a great challenge for us riders. We are extremely grateful to Rolex for their huge commitment to our sport and for enabling such fantastic shows like Aachen, Calgary, Geneva and `s-Hertogenbosch. I believe every rider dreams of winning the Grand Slam and it goes without saying that I will give it my best shot and prepare myself as well as possible for the next Major. But first of all I want to savour this victory here in Aachen. Over the next few days, I will then draw up a plan for Calgary together with my team. 


It is your birthday on September 10th. It is coincidentally the very day on which the Grand Prix is taking place in Calgary. But, wouldn’t a second Major victory in succession be a wonderful birthday present?

Wathelet: Yes, of course (laughs). But, as I said, at the moment I am still overjoyed about my victory in Aachen. We will have to wait and see what happens thereafter. But one thing is sure, I will certainly be celebrating my birthday in Calgary this year.

Gregory Whatelet with the Rolex Grand Slam signpost Gregory Whatelet with the Rolex Grand Slam signpost (picture: Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping/Kit Houghton)

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has begun for Gregory Wathelet

40,000 spectators were there live when sporting history was written at the CHIO Aachen 2017: After two rounds and the subsequent jump-off in the “Rolex Grand Prix, the Grand Prix of Aachen”, Gregory Wathelet was able to assert himself against the entire world elite with “Coree” and win the first leg in the year of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Incidentally, this was the first Major victory in the Belgian rider’s career.

“It is simply a dream come true to see my name on the winners’ board in Aachen! It doesn’t suffice to give 100 percent to win a Major. One has to give 500 percent and that is what we did today. My horse was simply incredible,” stated an overjoyed, Gregory Wathelet, who will now take on the ultimate challenge in equestrian sport: The show-jumper, who succeeds in riding to victory in three consecutive Majors, wins the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping and one million Euros in addition to the prize-money. So, Gregory Wathelet’s full focus will now be on Calgary, where at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters” 2017 from September 6th-10th, he will be striving to claim his second Major title.

The winners of the last Majors weren’t able to redeem their chance of claiming a Grand Slam bonus: Scott Brash, who secured himself the top step of the winner’s podium at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2016, had the opportunity of claiming a 250,000 Euro bonus for two Major victories within one Grand Slam cycle here in Aachen. However, the British rider picked up four faults in the first round with the mare “Ursula XII” and finished the class in ninth place after the second round. Indeed, the winner of the CHI Geneva in 2016, Pedro Veniss, could not participate in the “Rolex Grand Prix, the Grand Prix of Aachen”. Over the course of the show week, luck was not on his side, so the Brazilian rider didn’t succeed in qualifying for the Grand Prix. However, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is not over for Pedro Veniss yet: In September at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2017, for him 250,000 Euros will be at stake for the second Major victory within a Grand Slam cycle.

Gregory Wathelet, winner of the Gregory Wathelet, winner of the "Rolex Grand Prix" at CHIO Aachen 2017

The Rolex Grand Slam live

For all those people, who cannot be there in person on Sunday, when the best riders in the world battle it out to claim the victory in the Major, the “Rolex Grand Prix” of the CHIO Aachen 2017, which starts at 1.15 p.m. (CEST), the jumping competition is being broadcast live on TV and on the Rolex Grand Slam website.

The viewers from Germany can watch the first round of the “Rolex Grand Prix” live on TV, starting at 1.15 p.m. on WDR. ARD is then responsible for the live transmission of the second round, which commences punctually at 3.15 p.m.

For viewers from all other countries, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is transmitting a livestream of the event directly on its website: Starting at 1.15 p.m. (CEST), the entire competition will be broadcast at www.rolexgrandslam.com.

A Grand Slam bonus is at stake for Scott Brash in Aachen on Sunday. A Grand Slam bonus is at stake for Scott Brash in Aachen on Sunday.

A Major final with world stars and surprises

The show week of the CHIO Aachen 2017 is gradually coming to a close and now we can already reveal, which 40 riders are going to compete in the Final on Sunday afternoon, the “Rolex Grand Prix, the Grand Prix of Aachen”.

A huge surprise up front: The current Grand Slam contender, Pedro Veniss, will not be on the starting list, as became clear after the third and last qualifier today, the “Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia”: “I noticed in the ring that my horse, ‘Quabri de l‘Isle’ didn’t feel good today. He wasn’t in his usual form, so I retired right after the first few obstacles,” commented a visibly disappointed, Pedro Veniss, who could only have secured himself a place in the Major final, if he had achieved a top placing in today’s class. “It was my big dream to compete in the ‘Rolex Grand Prix’ on Sunday, but of course the well-being of ‘Quabri’ definitely takes priority.”

Even if luck wasn’t on the side of Pedro Veniss in Aachen, his personal Rolex Grand Slam is not over yet. Because at the 2017 Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in September, the Brazilian rider still has the chance to claim his second Major victory within a Grand Slam cycle. A bonus that the British show-jumper, Scott Brash, will have his sights set on this Sunday. Because the winner of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in 2016 was one of the 40 riders to qualify for the “Rolex Grand Prix”.

Scott Brash will be battling it out against the strongest competitors the international show jumping sport has to offer – heading his list of rivals is the current number one in the world rankings, Kent Farrington from the USA, who demonstrated that he is in absolute top form after riding to victory in today’s “Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia”. His team colleagues, Beezie Madden, McLain Ward, Lauren Hough and Laura Kraut are all on board too. Also on the starting list for the “Rolex Grand Prix”: the Olympic gold-medallist Steve Guerdat from Switzerland, Eric Lamaze from Canada as well as Kevin Staut and Roger-Yves Bost from France. The Irish rider Bertram Allen; the Italian show-jumper Lorenzo de Luca, Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya, Henrik von Eckermann from Sweden and the Dutchman Harrie Smolders have also secured themselves a ticket for the final. Together with the youngest Major winner of all time, Olivier Philippaerts from Belgium, who won the Grand Prix at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in 2012 at the tender age of 19, he is accompanied by his fellow countrymen Gregory Wathelet and Pieter Devos, who won the Major in Calgary in 2013.

Twelve riders will be representing the host nation, including last year’s winner, Philipp Weishaupt; the three-time Aachen Champion, Ludger Beerbaum; the winner from the year 2005, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum as well as the youngsters, Laura Klaphake and Maurice Tebbel.

The best riders in the world will be competing against each other in the “Rolex Grand Prix, the Grand Prix of Aachen” on Sunday, the competition commences at 1:15 p.m. One of them will leave the most famous arena in the world as the new Major winner. The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is entering a new round!
 

Kent  FARRINGTON riding Uceko USA Kent Farrington and “Uceko”, winners of the “Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia”, the third and last qualifier for the “Rolex Grand Prix” on Sunday

Eric Lamaze wins the first qualifier

The first ‘major’ test at the CHIO Aachen 2017 is over and just like last year the victory in the “Turkish Airlines-Prize of Europe”, the first qualifier for the “Rolex Grand Prix” on Sunday, went to the Canadian rider, Eric Lamaze and “Fine Lady”. In the jump-off, the pair relegated Ludger Beerbaum from Germany, who had saddled “Chiara”, and the Irish show-jumper Bertram Allen with “Molly Malone”, into second and third place, respectively.

The current Grand Slam contender, Pedro Veniss, also succeeded in qualifying for the jump-off with his top horse, “Quabri de l’Isle” at his debut appearance on the “Holy Grass” of Aachen. However, the pair picked up eight penalty points in the jump-off, which meant they ultimately ranked 18th. A placing that nevertheless has increased the Brazilian rider’s chances of making sure his name is on the starting list of the “Rolex Grand Prix”, because the best 40 riders from the three qualifications earn themselves a ticket for the final. However, nothing is anywhere near decided yet, we won’t know exactly which pairs will be competing in the Major until after the third and last qualifier on Friday afternoon.

The next qualifying competition for the “Rolex Grand Prix, the Grand Prix of Aachen”, which is endowed with prize-money to the value of one million Euros, is the “Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup”, a floodlit class that starts at 7.30 p.m. on Thursday evening. Here, the riders who rank under the top 18, directly secure themselves a ticket for the final. The “Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia, which commences at 12.45 p.m. early on Friday afternoon is the final opportunity for the riders to jump their way into final of the Major.

Incidentally, Scott Brash, who won the Grand Slam title in 2015, chose not to compete in the first qualifier. As the winner of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in 2016, the British rider not only has the chance of picking up the bonus for two Major victories within one Grand Slam cycle, he has also already pre-qualified for the “Rolex Grand Prix” with his mare “Ursula XII”.

Eric  LAMAZE riding Fine Lady 5 CAN Winner of the Turkish Airlines-Prize of Europe Eric LAMAZE riding Fine Lady 5 CAN Winner of the Turkish Airlines-Prize of Europe

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is back in Germany: The CHIO Aachen 2017 is in full swing and over the next few days, the utmost and ultimate priority for the top show-jumpers in the world is to secure one of the coveted places in the grand final on Sunday afternoon, the “Rolex Grand Prix, the Grand Prix of Aachen”, which is endowed with one million Euros in prize-money.

Not only is the host nation represented by first-class riders like Ludger Beerbaum, Christian Ahlmann, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Marcus Ehning and last year’s winner Philipp Weishaupt. The team the USA has sent to the Soers also includes the country’s best riders among others the current number one in the world rankings, Kent Farrington, as well as the winner of the world cup final, McLain Ward. The same can be said of the French participants, namely three riders of the gold-winning team from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio are on board – Kevin Staut, Roger-Yves Bost and Philippe Rozier. The visitors of the World Equestrian Festival can additionally look forward to the Canadian bronze medal winner from Rio, Eric Lamaze, the top Irish rider Bertram Allen, the Italian high-flyer Lorenzo de Luca and the Swiss Olympic gold-medallist, Steve Guerdat.

For all of these athletes, the victory in the Grand Prix on Sunday would also mean the beginning of their personal Rolex Grand Slam: The rider, who succeeds in winning three equestrian sport Majors 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 – in 2014/15 – and all eyes will be cast on him once again at the CHIO Aachen 2017: Since, thanks to his repeated triumph at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2016, he has the chance of picking up a 250,000-Euro bonus for two Major victories within one Grand Slam cycle.

Pedro Veniss travels to Aachen as the current Grand Slam contender: After his victory at the CHI Geneva 2016 last December, the Brazilian will now be striving to win his second Major in succession. If he jumps to victory in the “Rolex Grand Prix” on Sunday, he will be riding for the Grand Slam title in Calgary in September.

However, like most of the other riders, Pedro Veniss first of all has to qualify for the Grand Prix: The qualifiers for securing a place on the starting list of the “Rolex Grand Prix” kick off with the “Turkish Airlines-Prize of Europe”, the main competition on Wednesday, followed by the “Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup” on Thursday evening and the “Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia”, the main competition on Friday. Only those riders, who convince with an excellent placing in at least one of these classes, will receive one of the 40 tickets available for the Major final.

Will Pedro Veniss be able to assert himself against the strong field of participants at the CHIO Aachen 2017? Or will a new Major winner emerge from the “Rolex Grand Prix”? The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is looking forward to a thrilling opening event of the year! 

The picture enclosed shows the Rolex Grand Slam trophy (picture: Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping/Andreas Steindl) The picture enclosed shows the Rolex Grand Slam trophy (picture: Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping/Andreas Steindl)

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is welcoming the best show-jumpers in the world to the first Major of the year 2017, in Germany: They will be competing against each other at the CHIO Aachen from July 14th to 23rd and on the final Sunday will be battling it out for the victory in the famous “Rolex Grand Prix”. An interview with the current Grand Slam contender, Pedro Veniss from Brazil, about childhood dreams come true, a summer in Calgary and the most loveable horse in the world.

 

Your Major victory in Geneva was six months ago. How have you and “Quabri de l’Isle” been doing since then?

Pedro Veniss: It is always still a fantastic feeling when I think back. I will remember this victory eternally. It was one of the most important in my career so far. After Geneva we gave “Quabri” a time-out from the sport and he was only implemented as a stud stallion. Afterwards, we took part at a few smaller shows and gradually worked our way back up. Versailles in May was our first big five star event after Geneva.


And that is where you won the “Rolex Grand Prix”!

Veniss: Yes, that was super! “Quabri” already showed that he is in good shape there. But to prepare him for Aachen as well as possible, I have spent June in Spruce Meadows with him and took part in the Summer Series. The huge grass arenas in Aachen and Spruce Meadows are very special, you don’t find hardly anything like it anywhere else in the world. Philipp Weishaupt and “LB Convall” were also in Calgary last summer – and they subsequently won in Aachen. So, I am hoping the plan will work just as well for me.


How do you assess your chances of winning?

Veniss: In “Quabri” I have a wonderful partner under the saddle, who is up to every task. A horse that you can win the big classes with! He doesn’t have any bad days, always gives his best, whatever event we are at and he loves competing. His mentality is simply incredible and he is also the most loveable horse in the world too. I am extremely lucky to be able to ride him and I certainly think he is capable of winning in Aachen. But I have to be just as good on that day too!


It is going to be the first time you have ever competed in Aachen. What do you think is awaiting you?

Veniss: Coming from Brazil let me put it like this: Aachen is the Maracanã of equestrian sports! As a child it was always my dream to ride in Aachen one day. I already had the opportunity to do so when I was only 23 years old during the World Equestrian Games in 2006 as a member of the Brazilian team. But unfortunately my horse sustained an injury a week beforehand. So, it is an even more unique feeling that this dream is finally coming true.


What do you think the moment is going to be like when you ride into the Main Stadium in Aachen for the first time?

Veniss: It is going to be an unforgettable experience! I think, all of the stages of my career that actually brought me to Aachen will pass in front of my eyes again. My family will be in the crowd and will cheer me on. It is going to be a really, really special show for me and I am going to give it my very best shot to win the “Rolex Grand Prix” on Sunday!

The picture enclosed shows Pedro Veniss and The picture enclosed shows Pedro Veniss and "Quabri de l'Isle", winners of the Major in Geneva in 2016 and current Rolex Grand Slam contenders.

Social News Room

How do the best riders in the world prepare themselves for the ultimate challenge? How do the winners of a Major celebrate their victory and how do their teams back home welcome them? What happens behind the scenes at the world-famous showgrounds in Calgary, Geneva, Aachen and `s-Hertogenbosch?

With immediate effect, the new social newsroom of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping will keep you constantly updated about all of the Majors, the Major winners and those, who want to become one. All entries on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #RolexGrandSlam will appear bundled together on the homepage of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, so that you don’t have to miss any news on the most prestigious trophy on the international equestrian sport circuit from now on!
 

The CHIO Aachen 2017 is going to write history!

This year the World Equestrian Festival not only traditionally kicks off the cycle of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, but is at the same time a new milestone in the biggest challenge of the equestrian sport: Whoever succeeds in emerging as the winner of the “Rolex Grand Prix”, will be the first rider ever to benefit from the new, even more spectacular bonus system of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.


Starting with this new cycle of the Grand Slam, The Dutch Masters in ’s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, is joining the three original events as a fixed annual leg. From now on four  Majors – one distributed in each quarter of the year – will be contested: The CHIO Aachen in July, the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in September, the CHI Geneva in December and finally The Dutch Masters, which will welcome the best riders in the world in March 2018 for the first time in its capacity as a Major of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.


Nevertheless, in spite of the inclusion of a fourth leg, the established mode that three Major victories in succession lead to the Grand Slam triumph and a one million Euro bonus in addition to the prize-money, remains intact. However, if a rider wins the fourth Major directly afterwards, he doubles his bonus up to two million Euros.


For the selected pairs, who are on the starting list of this year’s CHIO Aachen, this means more than ever, full concentration here and now! Because only 40 pairs can qualify for the “Rolex Grand Prix” on the final Sunday – and following tradition the absolute top show-jumpers from all over the globe compete at the World Equestrian Festival together with their best horses.
The equestrian sport elite has been battling it out against each other at the legendary showgrounds at the Soers in Aachen, which attracts around 350,000 visitors every year, since 1927. 


On the last Sunday, the Main Stadium in Aachen is completely sold-out down to the last standing area. 40,000 euphoric spectators want to be there live, when sporting history is written in the “Rolex Grand Prix”. 


Last year a young German rider led the field: Philipp Weishaupt claimed the Major victory riding the grey stallion “LB Convall”, ahead of Scott Brash from Great Britain, the Grand Slam champion of 2014/15, with his mare “Ursula XII”. This pair in turn also won the Grand Prix of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2016 and thus travelled to the CHI Geneva last December as the current Grand Slam contender.


However, it was Pedro Veniss and “Quabri de l’Isle”, who secured themselves the victory in the Palexpo arena in Geneva – the pair that everyone’s eyes will be set on during the “Rolex Grand Prix” at the CHIO Aachen 2017, when the 34-year-old Brazilian rider and his exceptional stallion will try their hardest to win their second Major victory in a row.


Will Pedro Veniss succeed in pulling off the next step towards taking the Rolex Grand Slam? Or will the journey begin for a different rider? The decision will fall on July 23, 2017 in the Main Stadium in Aachen!

When the CHIO Aachen welcomes the best riders in the world in July 2017, it is not merely going to be the opening leg of the 2017 Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping year, but indeed also mark a further milestone in this ultimate prestigious equestrian sport challenge.

With the announcement of the new Rolex Grand Slam event, The Dutch Masters in `s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, is joining the ranks of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping fixtures. This means, going forward, one Major will be staged in each quarter of the calendar; the CHIO Aachen 2017 from July 14th to 23rd in Germany, followed by the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ CSIO in Calgary, Canada, from September 6th to 10th. The year comes to a close with the CHI Geneva from December 7th to 10th in Switzerland. Then the Netherlands take on the role of hosting the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping for the first time at The Dutch Masters from March 8th to 11th, 2018.

 

Along with the introduction announcement of the new Major, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is now also proud to unveil its new logo. “We created a unique concept in the year 2013, which is still today unparalleled in the world of equestrian sport.” commented Linda Southern-Heathcott, President of the Steering Committee of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. “The love for our fantastic partner, the horse, the passion for our sport and the respect for tradition are values that have united all of the Majors,” she added.  “From the very onset, executing the highest standards again and again is something we all strive for as well as working together in harmony on our further development. The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is not only a combination of world-class shows, it is an enthusiastic partnership and now together with our new partner, The Dutch Masters, we are taking the next, exciting step. The new logo symbolically underlines this.”

 

In spite of all the innovations, the established model of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping remains intact. Three consecutive Major victories still lead to the Grand Slam triumph and a bonus of one million Euros in addition to the prize-money. However, the newly introduced aspect is that by claiming an additional fourth Major victory in succession, a rider can double the Grand Slam bonus up to 2 million Euros.

 

Two Major victories within a Grand Slam cycle are still rewarded with a bonus of 250,000 Euros or, if they occur at two consecutive legs of the Grand Slam, 500,000 Euros.

 

The current Grand Slam contender is Pedro Veniss from Brazil. He won the “Rolex Grand Prix” at the CHI Geneva 2016 last December and will be striving to secure his second Major victory in succession at the CHIO Aachen 2017.  Former Rolex Grand Slam winner, Scott Brash of Great Britain, also has a chance to pick up a bonus of 250,000 Euros after winning the Grand Prix at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2016 last September.

 

 

The venue dates of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping:

CHIO Aachen: July 14th-23rd, 2017

Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ CSIO: September 6th-10th, 2017  

CHI Geneva: December 7th-10th, 2017

The Dutch Masters: March 8th-11th, 2018

Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping New Logo

Linda Southern-Heathcott, Scott Brash, Anky van Grunsven, Marcel Hunze and Jeroen Dubbeldam at the Indoor Brabant RGS announcement The picture enclosed shows (from left to right) Linda Southern-Heathcott, President of the Steering Committee of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Scott Brash, first rider ever to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Anky van Grunsven, President of Indoor Brabant, Marcel Hunze, Event Director of Indoor Brabant, and the reigning double World and European Champion Jeroen Dubbeldam at the official announcement at Indoor Brabant 2017.(picture: Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping/Kit Houghton).

In 2018 the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping will welcome The Dutch Masters as the fourth Major in equestrian sport. Established in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (The Netherlands) in 1967, and celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, The Dutch Masters will join CHIO Aachen (Germany), CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ (Canada) and CHI Geneva (Switzerland) in the ranks of long-standing traditional Major shows.

“We couldn’t wish for a better partner,” said an enthused Linda Southern-Heathcott, President of the Steering Committee of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. “What has always united all the Majors is the passion for the sport, the love for horses and a long tradition of the highest standard. Therefore, The Dutch Masters is a perfect addition to the Rolex Grand Slam; it offers an outstanding infrastructure, has had a long history and attracts the best riders in the world every year.”

The addition of a fourth Major to the Rolex Grand Slam will bring an exciting new dimension for the world’s elite showjumpers. Any rider who replicates Scott Brash’s phenomenal achievement in 2015 and wins three Majors consecutively, will win the Rolex Grand Slam and a bonus of €1 million. If that same rider then continues their success by winning a fourth Major in succession, they will be rewarded with an additional €1 million bonus. The bonus is on top of the prize money that they win at each event.

Regardless of the calendar year, the cycle begins for each rider with their first Major victory. A bonus of €500,000 is also available to any rider who wins two successive Grands Prix in any order. Additionally, a rider who wins two Grands Prix in a period of four successive Majors, will receive a bonus of €250,000.

The four equestrian Majors that make up the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping all have a long-standing heritage in the sport and share a unique partnership with Rolex, who is also celebrating its 60th anniversary in equestrianism in 2017.

Anky van Grunsven, President of The Dutch Masters said, “Rolex has already done so much for our sport and our long-term partnership with the brand is a privilege on its own. However, to now become part of the Rolex Grand Slam, announced in the 50th anniversary year of The Dutch Masters, is a very special gift for us, the show organizers.”

Jeroen Dubbeldam, the reigning double World and European Champion added. “The two best outdoor and the two best indoor shows in the world are now combined with each other, and will allow the riders to prepare our horses strategically for the Rolex Grand Slam campaign.  Naturally, coming from The Netherlands, I am also delighted that The Dutch Masters has become one of the Majors and look forward to competing for the Grand Slam title in my own country next year.”

Having won the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva in December, the Brazilian rider, Pedro Veniss, is the current ‘live contender’ for the Rolex Grand Slam and will be travelling to CHIO Aachen in July to challenge for a second successive stage win.

 

Dates of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping:

CHIO Aachen: 14-23 July 2017

Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’: 6-10 September 2017   

CHI Geneva: 7-10 December 2017

The Dutch Masters: 15-18 March 2018

Congratulations on your victory in the “Rolex Grand Prix” at the CHI Geneva! What a lovely Christmas present you have given yourself.

Pedro Veniss: It is the best thing ever, the biggest achievement in my career! My horse “Quabri de l´Isle” already jumped fantastically in the first round, simply phenomenal. So, I placed all my bets on one card and risked everything because I knew there were several fast pairs to follow. What shall I say? My horse played along perfectly and in the end everything fell into place. It was simply our day!


"Quabri de l´Isle” already proved that the course at the CHI Geneva suits him well last year…

Veniss: Yes, that is right. We already had two clear rounds in the “Rolex Grand Prix” in 2015 and finished eighth. That rounded the year off nicely! But then unfortunately things didn’t run very smoothly for us at the beginning of 2016. I really wanted to win a medal with the Brazilian team at the Olympic Games in Rio in front of my home crowd and I was ultimately very disappointed that we didn’t succeed in doing so. That is why I completely concentrated on the CHI Geneva after Rio. I simply wanted to win!


This Major victory means that your personal Rolex Grand Slam has begun. What do you think about this initiative?

Veniss: The Rolex Grand Slam has a special significance for me, whereby my Grand Slam history actually already began last year in Calgary, when I came third in the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex”. That was my first really big achievement, I was totally thrilled about it at the time. Furthermore, I was invited to compete at the CHI Geneva on the basis of this placement. That definitely inspired me. The result in Calgary made it clear to me that I have big dreams in this sport that I want to pursue. After that I worked even harder on myself. And one of these dreams – a childhood dream to be honest – namely winning the Major in Geneva has now come true. However, I do still have a big dream on my list…


Namely?

Veniss: To be able to ride in Aachen one day. That has always been my big goal. I had the opportunity to do so once at the World Equestrian Games in 2006. But then my horse sustained an injury a week beforehand, which meant I wasn’t able to ride. Since then the thought of competing in Aachen just wouldn’t let go of me.


This July you will not only definitely compete at the CHIO Aachen, but indeed as the Grand Slam contender. How do you rate your chances of winning a further Major?

Veniss: Alone the fact that I am now being able to contend in the Rolex Grand Slam is simply unbelievable and I am so lucky to have such an exceptional horse like “Quabri de l´Isle” to take on the challenge with. Hence, my focus in 2017 will definitely lie on Aachen and Calgary. I know that it will be extremely difficult to win the Rolex Grand Slam, but I will train even harder and give it my very best shot. And as I already said: There is nothing wrong about having big dreams!

Pedro Veniss Pedro Veniss

Pedro Veniss won the “Rolex Grand Prix” at the CHI Geneva 2016. In front of a crowd of 9,500 spectators in the sold-out Palexpo arena, together with “Quabri de l’Isle” the Brazilian rider put in a brilliant performance with a clear round in the jump-off and secured himself the victory in the third and last leg in the year of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, ahead of Olivier Philippaerts from Belgium and the British show-jumper, Scott Brash.

“It was like a dream come true, it really hasn’t sunk in yet,” said an overwhelmed Pedro Veniss about the first Major victory in his career, which has at the same time made him the new Grand Slam contender. At the CHIO Aachen in July 2017, he will now have the opportunity to continue his personal Rolex Grand Slam and take his second Major victory in succession.

Scott Brash came to Geneva with this aim in sight, because – after his legendary Grand Slam triumph in the 2014/15 season – he had travelled to Switzerland as the current aspirant for the title, since he had been able to repeat his victory from the previous year at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2016 in Calgary this September. As the last starter in the jump-off, it initially looked like the 31-year-old was going to claim the victory again, but in the end the British rider and his current top horse “Ursula XII” was four hundredths of a second slower than the winner.

Nevertheless, at the CHIO Aachen 2017 Scott Brash still has the chance to pick up the “two-out-of-three” bonus for two non-consecutive Major victories within one Grand Slam cycle. On the other hand, Philipp Weishaupt’s personal Rolex Grand Slam came to an end at the CHI Geneva: The Major winner of the CHIO Aachen 2016 collected eight faults in the first round of the extremely demanding course, which meant he didn’t qualify for the jump-off and thus missed the chance of pocketing a Grand Slam bonus.

The CHIO Aachen 2017, the next leg in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, is being staged from July 14th-23rd, 2017.

Steve Guerdat Steve Guerdat

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!

Scott Brash riding Ursula XII Scott Brash riding Ursula XII

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.

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