Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping

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Sophie Mottu Morel (Photo: Joseph Carlucci) Sophie Mottu Morel (Photo: CHI Geneva - Joseph Carlucci)

Inside the CHI Geneva virtual with

Sophie Mottu Morel, Show Director

 

What can equestrian fans look forward to seeing as part of CHI Geneva Virtual? Are there any surprises in store?!

As soon as the cancellation of the CHI Geneva was announced, it was obvious for us to be virtually present from 10-13 December 2020, the original dates of our event. We brainstormed with the team, and our goal was to create something different from what has been done already. That is why we have decided to produce a daily television programme, lasting about one hour, which will include prestigious guests. We have been producing a TV show during the CHI Geneva for a few years now, so we already have a bit of experience in this area. Alban Poudret and Michel Sorg – the voices behind the Geneva CHI – will lead these interviews, which will feature a star guest each day, in the studio or by video conference. The conversations will include anecdotes and memories, and the guests will also comment on some of their favourite courses over the years in Geneva’s Palexpo Arena.

How will people be able to get involved in CHI Geneva Virtual?

Equestrian fans will be able to watch the TV show on the CHI Geneva’s website (www.chi-geneve.ch) and on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CHIGeneve). The broadcasts will be live on Thursday 10 (special guest: Kevin Staut via Zoom), Friday 11 (special guest: Steve Guerdat either in the studio or via Zoom) and Saturday 12 December (special guests: Eric Lamaze and Luciana Diniz via Zoom) from 18.30-19.30 GVA, and on Sunday 13 December (special guest: Martin Fuchs via Zoom) from 14.00-15.00 GVA. Fans will be able to ask live questions to guests via social networks and a dedicated platform, participate in polls, and there will be opportunities to win special gifts!

CHI Geneva has been voted the ‘World’s Best Show’ on 10 occasions. Does that phenomenal achievement give you an added incentive to make CHI Geneva Virtual a huge success?

Winning these awards make us work even harder every year – they drive us to continually surpass ourselves. Accolades like these incentivise us to think differently to our peers – the other great equestrian shows – which is why we have decided to do something unique as part of CHI Geneva Virtual.

What’s the key to organising a successful show, either live or virtual?

The key to our success is undoubtedly our passion for equestrian sport. The team put its heart and soul into the organisation of the show. Sometimes people call us dreamers, but I think that's our strength, as it’s important to dream big!

What have you most enjoyed about organising CHI Geneva Virtual?

It has been very exciting to think about the content of each of these four daily programmes. The organisation has taken considerable teamwork from our communication team, including Yannick Guerdat, with whom we will produce the programmes, and Nicolas Bossard, who has been working with us on the programmes since the beginning of CHI Geneva (CHIG) TV.

What positives will you take from this experience?

A real willingness to do something different, a common vision in the ideas that we’ve created and implemented, and a fantastic motivation to propose and deliver something truly inspirational and original for the equestrian community.

Due to COVID-19, Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Majors, CHIO Aachen and CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ both held virtual editions. Has CHI Geneva Virtual taken any inspiration from these two events?

As I say, the organising team at the CHI Geneva wanted to do something different and original that’s never been tried before. But of course, we followed with interest what our friends from the Rolex Grand Slam have done this year, which was very impressive, so we commend them.

You must have an exceptionally talented team behind you to be able to organise CHI Geneva Virtual in such a short period of time?

The CHI Geneva is fortunate to be able to count on extremely competent, talented and motivated people. I must mention the incredible volunteers, who are the soul and spirit of the show, and without them it wouldn't be possible. So, that’s why we are giving them the exclusive opportunity to be the only ones that can ask questions to our special guests on CHIG TV on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 December – this is our gift to them. But one volunteer will also win a big gift: a VIP experience to next year’s CHIO Aachen.

Swiss prodigy, Martin Fuchs is the reigning champion of the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHI Geneva. Do you believe he has what it takes to retain his title in 2021?

Martin must be incredibly disappointed not to be able to defend his title this year, but I am sure he will be even more motivated to retain it in 2021.

Steve Guerdat is currently ranked number one in the world he has participated in every Major since 2013. How is Steve so consistent, and how is it that he and Martin are ranked number one and number two in the world respectively?

Steve is extremely talented, and he knows how to manage his horses' programmes perfectly, and I believe that's one of the keys to his incredible consistency. He is an inspiration to many young riders in Switzerland but also around the world,  and I am sure for Martin too. Martin’s father trains Steve, and Martin and Steve have fostered a mutual respect for one another and a very friendly rivalry, which, combined, is why I think the Swiss team is so strong today.

2021 will mark the 60th edition of the CHI Geneva. What have been your personal highlights since you’ve been involved in the show?

There are a lot of wonderful highlights that have stood out for me. I would have to say that the ones where I have really had goosebumps were Steve and Jalisca Solier’s World Cup Final victory in 2006 and the emotional farewell to Nino des Buissonnets in 2016.

The 20th edition of the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final at CHI Geneva will be celebrated at next year’s show – will CHI Geneva Virtual’s programme include a virtual Top 10 class?!

We will of course talk about the Top 10. For example, there will be an opportunity for our special guests and the equestrian fans that tune in to the broadcast to create their very own Top 10 from over the years, even from the very first edition of the show in 1926!

Lisa Lourie (Photo: Spy Coast Farm) Lisa Lourie (Photo: Spy Coast Farm)

Breeder Undercovered with:

Lisa Lourie, Horse Breeder & Farm Owner at Spy Coast Farm

 

What is your earliest equestrian memory?

That would be trail riding just outside of Boston in Winchester, Massachusetts, bareback in the woods behind my house with a good friend of mine. We were about 12 years old. She went to pony camp in the summer and would take some horses home with her in the winter; she needed help exercising them, so she and I would go off in the winter in the woods and trail ride.

 

What is the proudest moment of your career so far?

The easy answer is: when Chaqui Z, whom I own, and who Shane Sweetnam rides, were on the winning team at the European Championships. Recently though, I had the experience at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, of standing by the ring where the five, six and seven‐year old classes were being conducted, and I had a couple of horses warming up to compete in those classes. At the same moment, there was an eight‐year‐old that I’d bred in the equitation warm-up, and there was another good rider, Aaron Vale, who’d bought another Spy Coast‐bred horse, who was going into the five‐year‐old classes. Then somebody else walked by with another Spy Coast-bred horse. So that was a moment for me when I was literally surrounded by horses that I’d bred that were doing well. That moment really had an effect on me. I thought: “It’s really happening!”

 

How did you get into the breeding side of the sport?

I had a thoroughbred mare, that was a real schoolteacher, who I bred. Her colt had become two and a half, and eventually someone said to me: ‘What are you doing?’, at which point I realised that since it was a thoroughbred, it should have been gone by now! I realised then that there was no way I was going to give up these thoroughbreds, these babies, so young. So, that’s how I got into warmblood breeding, and it made so much more sense to me. I felt I could have an impact in warmblood breeding, but I could really lose my shirt in thoroughbred breeding, which I knew nothing about it, so that’s why I went in that direction.

 

Could you summarise what the main elements of breeding a top show jumping horse are, what is the background behind it, how do you decide which pairings to breed, etc.?

Obviously, I try to breed the best to the best – proven dam lines to great breeding sires. So, for me, the dam is really the biggest element, and then you want excellent breeding sires. Not just ones that have succeeded in the ring, but those that have also succeeded in breeding good horses. I always breed brain first, as 95‐99 per cent of my buyers are amateurs. I’ve tried to follow in the footsteps of some of the best European breeders, because I figured, why recreate the wheel, when Europe has been doing it for decades, so I try to follow their example. I try to acquire the best mares possible, and Shane and the rest of my riding crew are involved in pretty much every aspect of the breeding that I’m involved in. Not being a rider, and not being at every international show, they’re able to tell me how these horses actually go, what their mouths are like, what their attitudes are like, things like that. Their input into my breeding programme is essential.

 

Has there ever been a time when pairings have had unexpected results?

Yes, sometimes I’ll breed a very nice mare with a very nice stallion, and I’ll get a mediocre filly, who may be too short, she may not be very good looking, or she may not have very much scope. It was actually Joris De Brabander, who told me that it’s often those mares you want to breed to, as it’s the grandchild that’s going to be the one. So, with some resistance from my team, I’ve done that. I’ve bred to those mares and we’ve been very impressed with the results, so that was a good tip!

 

The partnership between horse and rider is clearly important; is that something you’re looking

for when you sell to new owners?

Yes, not always, but definitely for the best ones. Obviously, we care about the pairing when someone is trying the horse and making sure it’s not too much horse for the person. When we have one of our better horses, we want it to go to somebody who is going to bring the horse along well, especially if the horse is young. So they do well by the horse and also by my programme. We are still a young programme, and because we’re not in the European Union, I’ve had to prove our training programme and our development of these horses, as much as the horses themselves. That’s why we didn’t sell any young ones early on. We needed to prove our breeding programme and get them out there and produced well, so that Spy Coast Farm would be well regarded from the outset. Once they’re seven or eight, there’s more tolerance for the type of rider the horse can take. But the young ones need someone that can bring them along properly.

 

How long do you keep the foal before it goes on to its next home or before you break it in?

We typically start them at two and a half years old, so it’s a gradual start. We try to sell them fairly young now, but there’s not a lot of market here in the US for any horse under five or six years old unless they want to buy them as a breeding prospect and then you’re just selling your bloodlines cheaply. I’d rather the good ones go on to have a jumping career before they are used solely to have their bloodlines reproduced.

 

How many horses are you breeding during the year?

In a typical year, Spy Coast breeds 20 and we generally breed 20 for clients, all on the property. This year not being a typical year, I’ve bred around 31, but then also 20 for clients. We sold a lot more semen to outside customers in 2020 – this year was a big breeding year.

 

What is your main ambition with your career in breeding horses?

To improve the industry, as a whole. American’s are doing alright with sport horse shows and veterinary skills, but there was a giant gap when it came to breeding. I just felt that we had purchased so many good mares and stallions from overseas, that we needed to do something with them. Coming with that meant establishing the training of young horses and having classes and shows for them. It was a big chunk of the industry that wasn’t properly being attended to here. In the end, I believe we will develop even better riders, because they will know how to bring on the young horses we are breeding.

 

Which homebred horses are you most proud of?

Well, probably Kirschwasser SCF – he’s gone on to have a great Grand Prix career with a really enthusiastic rider, Freddie Vasquez, who loves him to death, so I’m super happy about that. There are some exciting ones coming along, but I also have to give a shoutout to my own horse, Nosy Parker SCF, who takes very good care of me. She’s extremely well bred (For Pleasure x Cumano), is very athletic, and she has a fantastic brain in order to tolerate me, but I think I’m going to move her along now, as she’s nearly eight. She has more talent than I have ability, so it would be a good time to move her on.

 

Aside from breeding, what are your other ambitions and aspirations?

To establish a low‐cost, high quality system of the young horse business here in America. That’s the ultimate goal. Also, to form an international alliance, and come up with ways that Europe can help us and that we can help Europe, while moving breeding forward.

 

Out of the four Majors that make up the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, which of them is

your favourite, and why?

I haven’t been to all of them, but I’d say the CHIO Aachen, as the energy there is just electric, and my horses always do well there, which helps, so you can’t discount that! I’ve come up with some great ideas from just being there, so for those reasons I’d have to say Aachen.

 

Who is your biggest inspiration? Who has inspired you the most throughout your career?

Breeding wise, it’s Joris De Brabander, his Stal de Muze has produced wonderful horses. But I’ve also had the great privilege to work and be around several true entrepreneurs, the type of people who always inspire me, as they think outside the box, and they come at a problem from a different angle, which is what I always try to do. I’ve really enjoyed working with Mark Bellisimo, and our partners in Wellington and Tryon. But recently I’ve really enjoyed working with Klaas De Coster and the Mares of Macha partners in Belgium. They approach breeding from a unique direction, with lots of positive energy and I’m enjoying being a part of that. They are moving the industry forward in a very democratic way.

 

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

It’s kind of goofy but it’s actually a song lyric, which goes: “It’s hard to see the spot you’re standing on”. In other words, you have to change things in order to discover where you really are. If you stay in the same place all the time, you don’t leave room for possibilities. Well, at least that’s how I interpret the song lyric.

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The Palexpo Arena (photo: CHI de Genève) The Palexpo Arena (photo: CHI de Genève)

Over the last few days, the Federal Council and the Canton of Geneva have presented new health measures aimed at controlling the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic. Following on from these announcements, the CHI Geneva organising committee decided to cancel the show’s 2020 edition.

The CHI Geneva organising committee have done everything in their power. Strict and far-reaching health security measures had been put in place and many scenarios considered so that the event could take place, even with a very restricted number of spectators or behind closed doors.

However, the announcements made by the Federal Council on Wednesday, 28th October and by the Geneva State Council on Sunday, 1st November have now limited events to five people, rendering the holding of an event like CHI Geneva impossible. With participants and staff not being included in this figure, the closed-door option was studied, but in the current health situation the organising committee cannot of course envisage bringing together under one roof a total of some 400 committee members, volunteers, riders, grooms, etc. The 2020 show which was to take place at Palexpo from 10th to 13th December has therefore been cancelled. Spectators who have already bought tickets will receive full refunds.

“The health situation is serious and the safety of the population is the absolute priority. This year’s show would have been quite different to what we expect, but we had hoped nevertheless to offer riders and drivers the opportunity to practise their sport, while offering the public the possibility of following their performances on our Live Streaming or on TV. The announcements of the last few days have however made it impossible to hold the event. This cancellation is a severe blow for all involved in the show who have worked extremely hard for many months on the various scenarios. But we will return even stronger in 2021 to celebrate our 60th edition. By taking this decision today, we are guaranteeing the continuation of our event over the years to come”, shares Sophie Mottu Morel, CHI Geneva Show Director.

The organising committee would like to warmly thank their partners, who have provided solid support throughout these last months. Thanks go too to the riders, volunteers, exhibitors and officials for their understanding and support in this decision. The organisers hereby invite their supporters to the 60th edition of CHI Geneva from 9th to 12th December 2021.

Photo: Rolex Grand Slam Photo: Rolex Grand Slam

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping was launched in April 2013 and is today regarded as one of the most revered prizes in equestrian sport. The concept was created by the organising committees of three of the world’s biggest and most well respected shows – CHIO Aachen, Germany; CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, Canada; and CHI Geneva, Switzerland – and rewards the rider who consecutively wins the Grands Prix at these three shows with a €1M bonus. In March 2018, these three global events, which are also known as ‘Majors’, were joined by a prestigious fourth – the largest indoor show in the Netherlands: The Dutch Masters.

The first and only winner of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is Scott Brash MBE, who achieved this pursuit of excellence in 2015 aboard his bay gelding, Hello Sanctos. Having already triumphed in the Rolex Grands Prix at the CHI Geneva 2014 and the CHIO Aachen 2015, the British rider then went double clear in the ‘CP International’, presented by Rolex at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in 2015, and in doing so reached the pinnacle of the sport.

In a relatively short period of time, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has grown exponentially – as portrayed by many of the impressive figures in the infographic – and has established itself as the sport’s ultimate challenge, attracting the very best horse and rider combinations on the equestrian world stage. While tennis has its four Grand Slam tournaments (Australian Open; French Open; The Championships, Wimbledon; and US Open) and golf has four Major championships (Masters Tournament; The Open; U.S. Open; and PGA Championship), the sport of showjumping is proud to have its very own Grand Slam. What makes the Rolex Grand Slam stand‐out from its tennis and golf counterparts is that women and men compete against one another on the same level for the same prize.

Since its inception, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has welcomed over 653,500 spectators yearly to its four Majors; crowned Major champions from nine different nations; while everything has been made possible by the unwavering support of more than 2,150 loyal volunteers. To learn more about the magnificent facts and figures that make up the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, please see the attached infographic, which we encourage you to post on your website and share across your social media channels.

Rolex Grand Slam Infographic

CHI Geneva CHI Geneva

Geneva, 28th September 2020 – Why can’t the world’s top riders and drivers do the same as hockey players and footballers? The organisers of the Geneva International Horse Show (CHIG), while aware of the issues, have come up with a concept of full health protection and are delighted to announce the 60th edition of their show-jumping, driving and cross-country competitions from 10th to 13th December 2020.

CHI Geneva organisers have for the last few months been planning the details of the 60th show, along with a comprehensive range of stringent health security measures. Although they are aware that the epidemiological situation could change at any time, they really want to be able to offer both riders and equestrian sports fans an opportunity to meet and have a good time.

“We’ve studied all the options and we’ve concluded that the CHI Geneva event can be held against a backdrop of strict appropriate health measures that will enable us to ensure the safety of everyone”, specifies Sophie Mottu Morel, CHI Geneva Show Director. She adds: “We’re well aware that the health situation could change before December and this could force us to make other decisions in the next few weeks, but we’re doing everything in our power to enable the staging of CHI Geneva 2020. We’re determined to put on a 60th event that showcases the sport at the highest level. It will appeal to spectators, competitors and sponsors alike.”

So, show jumping, driving and the indoor cross-country race will all be in this year’s programme. There will be many highlights, notably the 20th Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final on the Friday evening and the Rolex Grand Prix, one of the four legs of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, on the Sunday. The competition launched last year for talented under-25 riders will be held again, as will the renowned Indoor Cross-country presented by Tribune de Genève, and the FEI Driving World Cup presented by RTS.

The organising committee would like to warmly thank their partners, who have provided solid support throughout these last months and who are fully behind today’s decision. So, we will all meet from 10th to 13th December to welcome the riders and drivers to the Geneva arena.

Ian Allison and Eric Lamaze (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam/Ashley Neuhof) Ian Allison and Eric Lamaze (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam/Ashley Neuhof)

Behind the Spruce Meadows 'Masters' at Home with Ian Allison, Senior Vice President of Sport & Media Services

 

What’s on the programme for the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ at Home this year?

We have dug deep into the vault to find great historic ‘Masters’ content, including full programmes, documentaries and interviews. While a lot of it is sport, we also looked at the traditions, such as the Holland flowers, British Day and special features that make the ‘Masters’ unique.

How did you come up with the ideas for content?

The Spruce Meadows team collaborated and thought about all the great memories from the ‘Masters’. We also listened to our fans, who expressed the types of content they wanted to see. After our success with the Spruce Meadows ‘National’ and ‘North American at Home’ episodes, this seemed to make perfect sense to allow us to celebrate – in some way – our 45th Anniversary season.

What have you put in the programme to attract an international audience?

The ‘Masters’ has an international audience, and you get to see winners from all over the world. We will feature not just Canadians in the programme, but great champions and teams from throughout our history. Spruce Meadows is global in its reach. Athletes from over 60 nations have competed here, and the BMO Nations’ Cup has historically featured the best teams in the world from North and South America and Europe.   

What makes the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ at Home different from other virtual events?

We were fortunate to be able to execute a few 2020 initiatives like the XEROX Young Rider Award and Name the Foal, presented by TELUS – there will be recordings of the 2020 winners from both awards, and they will be revealed during the 2020 Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ at Home. Spruce Meadows also has an extensive library of not just full competitions, but great documentaries, and athlete profiles that highlight the venue and the great riders that have competed.

How has the team adapted to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic?

It certainly has been an unusual year. We have been fortunate to be able to celebrate our history and work with all of our partners to look to the future, and a return to normalcy. We have been able to celebrate our history, plan for the future and use technology to remain connected.

Do you think this experience has encouraged you to look at changing the format of events moving forward next year?  

Spruce Meadows always looks to evolve and innovate, and question how we can be better. We are sure this chapter in our history will inspire some change, not only for our organisation, but also for all sports.

You also held the Spruce Meadows Summer Series, as a digital version – what was the public’s feedback?

We had a lot of positive feedback from our fans that watched our ‘National’, ‘North American’ and Canada Day at Home Series. Many had feedback on the competitions and types of features they’d like to see for the ‘Masters’. We took that into consideration while planning the ‘Masters’ at Home, and even have a vote set-up for fans to choose a couple of the competitions they’d like to see. Our archives are rich with options, memorable moments and memorable athletes and officials.

Which riders have you been working with? And which riders are set to compete?

We really focused on the historic content to bring forward Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ at Home. We’ve chosen some historic moments we hope everyone will enjoy and allowed the fans to have a say in what they’d like to see. Fortunately, in advance of our 45th Anniversary and the pandemic, we had taken the opportunity to speak with many current and former stars of the sport.  

What has been the biggest lesson you have learnt during this experience? 

We all must learn to adapt and overcome. Health and safety are paramount for our fans, staff, athletes, officials and sponsors. We will come through this era with many lessons learned and with some amazing innovation.

You also have a football team, do you mix the communication between the two sports? 

Yes, the Spruce Meadows and Cavalry FC brands are well received and respected for many of the same reasons. We are able to mix our communications and attract new fans to both sports.

What have you most enjoyed about preparing for the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ at Home? 

It has been amazing digging into the archives (and our memories), with many younger colleagues and re-living such memorable moments, of which there have been so many. Our next generations of leadership has a greater sense and appreciation of our history through this process.

Looking at the quest for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping in 2021, which riders do you think will be in contention for it?

That is so tough to forecast. Any rider in the Top 50 in the world certainly has to be considered ‘in play’. I think that Steve Guerdat always has his eye on the prize. Scott Brash can also never be discounted, as he develops a new string of horses.

Had the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ taken place this year, who do you think would have won the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex?

I think Steve Guerdat certainly would have been a favorite. The Tokyo Games would have been complete, with a reasonable break in between. He has the talent, focus and horse power.

Judy Ann Melchior (Photo: Erin Gilmore Photography) Judy Ann Melchior (Photo: Erin Gilmore Photography)

Breeders uncovered with Judy Ann Melchior, Breeder at Zangersheide and international rider

 

What is your earliest equestrian memory?

My earliest memory was being with my father at CHIO Aachen, I think I must have been only seven or eight-years-old. It was all so big and impressive!

What is the proudest moment of your career so far?

I have two: winning a bronze medal at the FEI World Equestrian Games™, and also competing in the FEI Nations Cup™ in Aachen where the atmosphere was electric.

How did you get into the breeding side of the sport?

I think it was more of a family business that I grew into. At home we always had a breeding programme – my father created a studbook, so breeding has always been a very high priority. It’s something that from a very young age I got involved in and I’ve held it with me to this day. I got even closer to it when my sport mares went into the breeding programme, giving me the chance to breed with my ex sport horses and having their foals becoming our sport horses of today.

Could you summarise what the main elements of breeding a top show jumping horse are, what is the background behind it, how do you decide which pairings to breed, etc.?

I think there are two sides that are really important. Of course, there is the side of the bloodline and the pedigree, and there is also the side of knowing your mare and knowing your stallion. Knowing what your mare has in terms of qualities, as well as what she needs from a stallion can help you make the decision and therefore optimise the pairing. The side of the bloodline is of course important, you ask questions, such as what other bloodlines have proved that they work well together. It’s essentially a puzzle that you’re never 100% sure will fit. Passion and feeling are also incredibly important when breeding.

Has there ever been a time when pairings have had unexpected results?

Yes, it’s happened with some of our pairings and in both ways. We’ve had combinations where we’ve thought ‘this must be the next superstar’ and then the horse turned out to be a bit average. Then we’ve had some combinations that have really surprised us. What definitely happens is that the horses evolve, so sometimes you have foals that you think are quite average, but then they develop at a later age into a great horse.

The partnership between horse and rider is clearly important – is that something you’re looking for when you sell to new owners?

Yes, it’s definitely the one thing that makes a horse afterwards, the partnership that they create later with their rider. You will never get the maximum potential out of a horse if it’s not with the right rider.

Can you share some behind the scenes insights into a typical breeding programme?

Well, we have the mares, some new and some that we used already in the breeding programme. We always look at the foals of the mares that have been in the programme before to see how they have developed and whether the combination worked as expected or not, then we try and adjust depending on the outcome of the previous foals. If we see that the mare has worked really well with a certain stallion, we will typically breed the same pairing again, or if that’s not possible, breed her with another stallion that is as close to the previous one as possible, by looking at bloodlines and the type. If a mare has worked really badly with another, we try to find out why. If it’s a new mare, or a mare that has recently come out of the sport that hasn’t yet bred, we look more in depth at the mare herself and analyse the qualities that she has, and what the stallion could contribute. From that moment, the reproduction starts.

How long do you keep the foal before it goes on to its next home or before you break it in?

Mares and foals stay together for five to six months, and after this the foal becomes more independent and is weaned from its mother. The foals then come together in a group of seven or eight. When the weather is good, they will have access to the paddock and the field, but when the weather isn’t as nice the horses will have free access to their stables and the paddock, so they can almost come and go as they choose. At around three-years-old we start free jumping them. Then sometimes the three-year-old mares might have one foal before they go into the sport, and the stallions would get prepared for the stallion approvals. Before the stallions turn four, most of them are broken in, whereas the mares are broken in slightly later.

How many horses are you breeding during the year?

We breed roughly 25 foals per year.

What is your main ambition with your career in breeding horses?

My main ambition is to breed top quality sport horses for ourselves but also for other riders. It’s also fantastic when we are able to ride our own horses at the highest level. Some of the horses we have produced have been very good, and Christian [Ahlmann] also has many of our homebred horses that are part of his top string.

Which homebred horses are you most proud of?

I would have to say As Cold as Ice Z is one of my favourites that I’ve bred, as she made many of my dreams come true, and she’s a mare that was born at our place. The second would be Take a Chance on Me Z, he was the first homebred horse from one of my old sport horses. He also developed into a Grand Prix horse, so it made me incredibly proud to have raised him and developed him into such an amazing horse. We won Grands Prix with the mother, the father, and when we won Grands Prix with the foal, that made it extra special.

Aside from breeding, what are your ambitions and aspirations in terms of your jumping career?

I haven’t been competing for about 18 months now, as I had my second child, so I had to stop, as I became too busy. With the breeding programme, the auctions and other things, it became too much. Despite all of this, I’m not retired, as I love riding, but at this point in time I don’t have time to compete in the shows. Show jumping takes up so much time and due to my schedule being so full with my family and breeding, I can’t find the time, but we’ll see what happens in the future. Other than that, I have ambitions, I love being involved in the auctions, we organised one of the first online auctions around seven years ago. Now it’s something a lot of people are doing, so it became quite a big business for us.

Out of the four Majors that make up the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, which of them is your favourite?

Aachen without a doubt. It’s like our home show, we live only 30 minutes away, so it feels like it’s almost more of a home show for me than the Germans. When the stadium is full, the atmosphere is incredible.

Who is your biggest inspiration? Who has inspired you the most throughout your career?

That would have to be my father.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

That’s a good question, I’ve had a lot of good advice over the years. One thing that sticks with me through everything is this quote: “If you fall and you stand up, you’re stronger than the one that never fell” – I hold this very close to me no matter what I’m doing in my life.

Photo: Rolex / Ashley Neuhof Photo: Rolex / Ashley Neuhof

*WEDNESDAY STATS*

Horse Edition 🐎🏆

What is the average age of a Rolex Grand Slam Major winner?

The answer is: 12,3 years old to be precise!

Amongst the 12 years old that won a Major, we have some legendary horses: Niels Bruynseels' Gancia de Muze, Christian Ahlmann's Codex One, Pedro Veniss Quabri de l'Isle, Steve Guerdat's Nino des Buissonnets, Daniel Deusser's Cornet d'Amour and the winner of the Rolex Grand Slam, Scott Brash's Hello Sanctos!

Michael Mronz (photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Kit Houghton) Michael Mronz (photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Kit Houghton)

Behind the CHIO Aachen Digital with Michael Mronz, General Manager, CHIO Aachen

 

Tell us about Digital Aachen, what are the highlights of the programme?

It is totally diversified. We have sport challenges with top riders like Patrik Kittel, Luciana Diniz, Ludger Beerbaum, Jessica von Bredow‐Werndl or Sandra Auffarth. In the virtual SAP Cup, the CHIO Aachen fans can become Eventing Managers, and on top of that there are many competitor stories on the most important competitions; for example, Luciana Diniz will tell us again what it was like being pipped at the post in the Rolex Grand Prix three times and Otto Becker and many others will report about the fascination of the Mercedes‐Benz Nations Cup. In addition to this, of course, we have highlights from the Rolex Grand Prix and other fascinating competitions and as‐live formats from the 2019 CHIO Aachen, enhanced with commentary as well as exciting background information. All of this is going to be highlighted in a daily report from August 4th‐9th, on Facebook, YouTube, chioaachen.de and via clipmyhorse.tv.

How did you come up with the ideas for the content?

Naturally, the entire CHIO Aachen team have developed the ideas and the concept jointly. Whereby a lot of the input came from the outside – from the CHIO Aachen fans and even some of the riders have provided us with ideas.

What are your objectives for the digital event?

Our aim is the same as for the “real” CHIO Aachen: Entertaining people. We want to deliver a bit of this very special and unparalleled Aachen Soers atmosphere to the living‐rooms of the CHIO Aachen fans around the world in this challenging year.

How has the team adapted to dealing with the COVID‐19 pandemic?

Very well. The majority of the employees are working from home, we engage with each other via video conferences and online communications. Everyone adapted to the situation very quickly, I think we have also learned a lot in terms of how we will work in the future too.

Do you think this experience has forced you to look at changing the format of CHIO Aachen next year?

We will no doubt also be able use many of the aspects that we have now digitally integrated into the CHIO Aachen in future. Applications like the Eventing Manager, but also the intensive online exchange with our visitors and fans.

Do you think there will be more virtual events, even after the pandemic is over?

I can well imagine that, albeit on a smaller scale. Everything that offers added value is worth being considered for the future too.

Have you observed any great initiatives in a different sport you would like to mention?

Definitely, there are many good initiatives and ideas of how to keep fantastic events alive in spite of the pandemic.

Which riders have been involved with Digital Aachen?

National riders as well as international. For example; Ludger Beerbaum and Sandra Auffarth, Jessica von Bredow‐Werndl, Ijsbrand Chardon, Patrik Kittel and Luciana Diniz will be involved.

What has been the biggest lesson you have learnt during these challenging times?

To never be too sure about anything.

What have you most enjoyed about putting the Digital Aachen together?

The enthusiasm within the team. Of course, we were all sad, disappointed and stunned that the CHIO Aachen 2020 had to be cancelled – but it was magnificent experiencing how new ideas were born and put into practice.

Looking at the quest for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping in 2021, which riders do you think will be in contention for it?

The great thing about our sport is the high density of performance. There are no longer five or six riders that dominate everything like in the past. We experience outstanding sport in the most fascinating equestrian arenas in the world every year in the scope of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Scott Brash made it clear to us that it is possible to master the ultimate challenge, but who is going to be the next contender? That is impossible to predict. Of course, my fingers are crossed for our Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender Martin Fuchs. And next to them I personally would like to say: I would be delighted if it were to be a woman.

Sean Lynch (photo: Tiffany Van Halle) Sean Lynch (photo: Tiffany Van Halle)

Behind the Stable door with Sean Lynch, international travelling groom for Daniel Deusser

 

How did your routine change during lockdown?

It wasn’t as busy with no competitions that’s for sure, it was very quiet at the start. Then, in the end, we were actually still very busy at home. We had a few people off, because obviously there weren’t any shows going on so not everyone was needed. In April, it was just me and a home rider and Daniel, although we finished at a normal time, which was the good part, it was busy enough!

Did you learn anything new about the horses, spending so much time with them at home?

I must say that, it was very nice, as I travel with different horses every week when I go to the shows, I’d take for instance Jasmine, Killer Queen and Tobago one week then I go with the young ones the week after, so it was actually quite nice to be at home and take care of the Grand Prix horses every day, as well as getting to know some of the newer horses we have in the stable slightly better.

Have you used the time to learn any new skills? 

As you mention it, I’m currently making an app, for iPhone and android. Basically, it’s called GroomsGoTo, everything you need, at the touch of a button. From your show calendars, which will be linked up to World of Show Jumping, to overnight stabling, as well as clinics, I’m also going to include a few ‘how to videos’ for the younger generation that don’t travel as much. There will be a lot of ‘get-to-knows’ to keep it interesting for people to read. The last part will be the paperwork, so a packing list etc. to make everything much easier.

I also started to learn a bit of German, but I gave up on that quite quickly!

What sparked this idea?

I talked to my mum and my best friend, and we concluded that it would be so much easier if everything you needed was in one place. Instead of having 20 different sites, it was all in one app, that gives you notifications and enables your life to be somewhat easier. If it picks up the way I hope it does, I hope to add a jobs section to it, for people to advertise that they need for example a show groom for a month or so, where people can apply to the job.

What did you miss most about competing?

The buzz! Especially because the weeks leading up to lockdown, we won two 5* Grands Prix back-to-back. I was so pumped, the horses were in good form, we were getting organised for FEI World Cup™ Finals and I was actually on the way to S-Hertogensboch when I got a phone call saying that I had to turn around because it was cancelled. So, I must admit, I miss the buzz, the adrenaline, but also my show family, that’s a big part for me, since we spend so much time together.

What did you miss the least?

The Driving… I got into that truck to go to St Tropez and I joked with myself “No, I can’t do this anymore”

How do you keep the horses fit and ready to jump a Major? Or did you give them a break?

I think you have to play it by ear, it’s not like we’re going to get a phone call saying that CHI Geneva is happening in three days, it will happen gradually, and we’ll be given a few weeks in advance to prepare things. We’ve given the horses a few easy days, when we knew in April and May that lockdown was still going, we gave the horses a few days off. Killer Queen went to the woods every day, on the racetrack and spent some more time as a ‘normal’ horse. But then when we heard that St Tropez might happen in a couple of weeks, we got them straight back into the program. We kept them ticking over so that they remained fit and would be ready to go to a show with a short amount of notice.

How has it changed Daniel’s game plan?

I guess for me it’s less stressful. We had to see how this year was going, to see what horses were ready to go, he had a couple of options, as we are privileged enough to have a fair few Grand Prix horses. At the moment we have around six Grand Prix horses in the stable, three that could do a championship. We are in a great position right now, we have some great horses, an amazing team, but I don’t exactly know the planning behind it all, I know Jasmine was going to go to S-Hertogensboch, to do the last Major there before the FEI World Cup™ Finals. I don’t know how it would have worked for the rest of the year, I know he spoke about the CSIO Spruce Meadows Masters and about Killer Queen doing the Olympics, there was a lot of speculation, but ultimately, we had to see how the year went. Daniel always has a very good plan with the horses, he’s very professional and very clever, never over-using the horses, but it really depended on how the year was going to play out.

Which horses will you be aiming for CHI Geneva in the hope of winning the Rolex Grand Prix in December?

My dream is: it will be Killer Queen, Tobago and Jasmine, then we can win everything! Killer Queen jumped there last year as a nine-year-old, she jumped her first top Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final, it wasn’t the plan, but Tobago was injured, and she ended up coming fourth which is amazing. She’s now a lot more experienced, especially in that ring, it could be a good show for her.

Daniel has been so close to winning a Major on more than one occasion, is this a big aim for the team?

I know that he was gutted in Aachen last year when he was so close. From a groom’s point of view, you always want your riders and horses to do well, it makes everyone happy. So, it would be very special to win something like CHIO Aachen, it’s one of the biggest events on the circuit and the crowd would go wild. We’re ready for IT next year!

What would you do if you weren’t a groom?

I don’t know, I’ve always been in the industry, when I was younger, I was riding and grooming, now I’m a Travelling Groom for one of the best riders in the world. I think I landed on my feet pretty well, but of course I don’t want to do the shows for the rest of my life, because I do want a family and things like that. I’d quite like to manage a stable, so that I can stay at home a bit. It’s not something I want right now, but something that I’d quite like in the future.

Best piece of advice you have been given?

You never stop learning. In this job, you never ever stop learning, there are old school grooms that could tell you how they did it back in the day. With the new style grooms, because we have new machines, new methods etc. it makes things very different. But one thing that I will always remember and take with me is “never stop learning”

Worst piece of advice you have been given?

It’s not really advice, but separation of the grooms, we all do the same job, we are all equal. I hate this controversy where 2-star grooms and 5-star grooms are made out to be completely different – we are the same and everyone should be treated equally.

Best moment of your career so far?

There have been so many, I’ll have to give you top three. Rio is definitely up there, Europeans too. It will sound weird but also the Mechlen FEI World Cup™ last year, just because we were having such a tough period where Tobago was off, which made it all the sweeter. I could list so many but those three will always be special to me.

What other sports do you follow? / get inspiration from? Are there any teams you support?

No not really, the horse world is like a drug, it almost takes over your life. I must say, when the Olympic Games are on and I’m not there, because I did Rio, I like to watch the Athletics with Usain Bolt and others. I really enjoy that, it’s not something that I would take time out of my day to watch, but when it’s on I would watch it. I’m equestrian through and through, and currently I’m really enjoying dressage.

Harry Charles (Photo: Rolex / Ashley Neuhof) Harry Charles (Photo: Rolex / Ashley Neuhof)

Nick Skelton (GBR) and Big Star winners of the Rolex Grand Prix Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Kit Houghton

Words from Olympic Gold Medallist and Show Jumping Legend Nick Skelton

 

What was the first Major you competed in? How did you do?

Well, I first won the Grand Prix in Geneva in 1978, before it was a Rolex class (ndlr: Skelton won 9 Majors in total).

How did it feel to win your first Major?

As anybody would, it was incredibly exciting, I was very pleased and incredibly happy to be winning them. I had some very good horses in those days, Apollo won two Grands Prix at CHIO Aachen, and then I won the Aachen Grand Prix in 1982 with a horse called Everest If Ever. Lastly, Big Star won the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen in 2013 when it was part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, so I became the Rolex live contender.

Is there a difference in feeling when you enter the arena of a Rolex Grand Prix at a Major, compared to other Shows?

CHIO Aachen was always a great place to ride, even back in the 80’s it was always packed with crowds, there was always a great atmosphere. Winning the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen is an incredible feat for any rider to win. It’s probably one of the hardest ones to win, along with Calgary.

Which was your favourite Major to compete in?

I think probably every rider would agree with me in saying that CHIO Aachen is the best Major to compete in, it is like the Wimbledon of Show Jumping or like the Masters in golf, it is the pinnacle of the sport. I think most riders would say this.

Do you think it takes a special and unique type of horse to win one of the Majors that make up the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping?

Of course, they are big courses and there’s a lot of pressure with the big crowds of spectators that they attract. Riders also put a lot of pressure on themselves, as they are the most important Grands Prix to win.

How has the sport of Show Jumping changed throughout your career?

It’s changed a huge amount, one of the main things I notice now is the time allowed. Nowadays you have to jump the courses a lot quicker than you used to. I watched the video back recently, I think from 1987 when I won a Grand Prix with Apollo, the time allowed was 102 seconds, nowadays you’re in the same field with the same amount of fences, but the time allowed now ranges from 82 and 84 seconds. So, you need to be roughly twenty seconds quicker than what you needed to be all those years ago. The fences come at you quicker nowadays. There are often more fences in a modern course, despite the rings being so small, they now fit around 13 jumps into even the smallest rings. That is added pressure on the horses as they have to jump quicker and more obstacles than they did back in those days.

Would you say that it’s now more important to have a bigger string of horses, rather than one top horse?

Absolutely, there’s a lot more shows now, with a big Grand Prix happening every week somewhere in Europe. So, you need a lot more horses and the high-quality ones are difficult to find, and that’s why they’re expensive.

How did the introduction of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping enhance the sport?

It’s a very good concept, it’s incredibly difficult to win. I suppose back in the day I would have done it; I think I won those Grands Prix, some of them all in the same year. Scott Brash is the only rider to have done it, it is difficult to win two of those in a season, let alone three or four, so it’s an amazing accomplishment. I think overall, it’s made the sport more competitive, with riders striving to get to the pinnacle of Show Jumping, which is the Rolex Grand Slam.

You competed for so many years, did you still get nervous ahead of big competitions towards the end?

I don’t think I got nervous; all riders get a little bit apprehensive before an important ride because you want to do well. If somebody said that they didn’t feel anything, I’d say they were lying. Riders feel emotions because they want to do well. It’s more adrenaline than nervousness I’d say. I can only speak for myself, but once you start the course, I never noticed anything going on in the ring or anything going on around me. I suppose that’s synonymous with most athletes, I imagine when playing at Wimbledon, tennis players concentrate on what they’re doing and so can’t hear the crowd, it was the same for me.

You had some tough moments in your career – what gave you the drive to keep going?

I always had some young horses that were coming through, so during my injuries, it made me look forward to producing and developing that young horse, which made me want to come back stronger. I had Arko and then Big star, so I always had a couple of good young horses coming along that I thought were going to be good enough, which gave me the drive to come back. But I knew that after Big Star, that I was never going to find any horse that was going to be as good as him again, and also I was getting on a bit in terms of my age, and considering what I’d won up to that point, I knew it was the right time to hang my boots up, especially considering my back was playing up a bit and Big Star wasn’t as sound as he once was. The time was right.

I think we know the answer to this, but which horse was your horse of a lifetime?

Big Star, no doubt. I’ve been very lucky; I’ve had some great horses. It’s very difficult to decide which of them was better, but he was the outstanding one. I’ve had some incredible ones over my time, horses like Dollar Girl, St James, Apollo, Tinka’s boy, Top Gun, Carlo. Some of the best horses in the world at that time, but Big Star was an incredibly special horse, and I’m incredibly grateful to have ridden him.

When you first started riding Big Star, did you know that he was something special?

I knew, he was different gravy. There was something about him from the first ride, I knew he was different, that he was special.

What is Big Star up to now? Do you still jump him at home?

He goes to stud breeding, then he comes home, we try to keep him as fit as we can. We do a bit of jumping and hacking. He is spoilt and enjoying his retirement.

What parts of competing do you miss the most and least?

Winning is what I miss the most! I miss travelling the least, although I am still doing a fair amount of it with our students and Laura. I do miss taking part. Sometimes I’m watching, thinking to myself “this is a big Grand Prix wouldn’t it be nice to be out there competing”. But I was and am satisfied with what I accomplished throughout my career. I’m not the kind of person that looks back and has any regrets.

With new generations starting to climb the ranks in professional Show Jumping e.g. Peter Charles’ son Harry – what is your advice to them?

The art of the game is picking the right horses, the ones that can take you to the top. You do have to be able to ride them though, but getting the best ones is the most important thing.

Which rider inspired you the most?

There are lot’s that have ridden and are still riding. I would say currently you could look at Scott Brash, Steve Guerdat, and the Philippaerts boys but there are so many good riders out there nowadays that are all inspiring.

How have you kept the horses in training during lockdown?

We’ve just been doing it at home, we’ve built courses at home for the students and once a week we’ll pick a course and practice, it’s been quite entertaining and I’ve enjoyed it because I’ve never spent this much time at home, so the lockdown hasn’t been too big of a problem for me.

 

Kent Farrington with Creedance (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof) Kent Farrington with Creedance (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

Virtual CHIO Aachen 2020 Virtual CHIO Aachen 2020

Perfect combination between virtual experiences, social media, sport and entertainment

 

The O stands for online: As a one-off occurrence, the “Concours Hippique International Officiel” is being staged as the “Concours Hippique International Online” this year. The “CHIO Aachen digital” is taking place from August 4th-9th, 2020.

“Of course, nothing excels the real CHIO Aachen,” said Frank Kemperman, Chairman of the Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein e.V. (ALRV), but in the scope of the CHIO Aachen digital using cutting-edge technology one has come up with a very good solution after the actual event had to be cancelled as a result of the Corona virus.

 

“We have been relying on state-of-the-art technology and innovations for many years already to present our unique sport in the best light and to also make it more transparent and thus more easily comprehensible, of course,” commented Michael Mronz, General Manager of Aachener Reitturnier GmbH. In this way, together with the official technology partner, the organisers developed the judging app for the dressage competitions, a technology which is meanwhile implemented worldwide and which is also being adapted for implementation during the CHIO Aachen digital.

 

The idea behind the “CHIO Aachen digital” is a combination between virtual experiences, social media, sports and entertainment. There will be dressage and show jumping challenges with international top riders, as well as a virtual eventing competition, plenty of fan involvement, a mobile phone game and a German vs. Dutch national cup in four-in-hand driving. Highlights of some of the most famous competitions in the world from past years will also be shown. The Rolex Grand Prix, Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup, Deutsche Bank Prize and co. will be enriched with current comments by athletes, background information, fun facts and a lot of material that has not been published before.

 

“Of course, we would have all preferred a live event at our traditional showgrounds,” stated Carl Meulenbergh, President of the ALRV, “however I am convinced that we will be able to bring a great deal of the legendary CHIO Aachen atmosphere to the people’s homes in the scope of this digital event.”

 

Over the coming days and weeks, details about the CHIO Aachen digital will be announced on the social media platforms and on the website at chioaachen.de.

 

www.chioaachen.de

#chioaachen

Spruce Meadows Spruce Meadows

Spruce Meadows – with the support of its Corporate Partners- has made the difficult decision to cancel the ‘Masters’ show jumping tournament September 9-13, 2020

This decision is made with heavy hearts and an acute awareness of the significant ripple effects. The flagship ‘Masters’ Tournament was scheduled to be a “best ever” edition in 2020. Highlights were to include the world’s best horses and riders competing at the biggest tournament in show jumping, wonderful shopping, exhibits and entertainment programs. These included the RCMP Musical Ride, Fire Fit, the World Blacksmith Championships, Friday’s ‘Evening of the Horse’, military colour and the wonderful voices of the Tenors, just to touch the surface.

Amidst all this, we have some positive news. You don’t have to miss out on Spruce Meadows entirely. Spruce Meadows is marking its 45th Anniversary in 2020 with a wonderful selection of memorable stories on many of our media and social platforms. TELUS Name the Foal will continue virtually, and the Spruce Meadows team is working on providing you a virtual Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ on the website and through social media.  More details on these initiatives will be available in the coming weeks.
 
Full press release here

CHIO Aachen CHIO Aachen

World Equestrian Festival only to be staged virtually

 

The World Equestrian Festival, CHIO Aachen, cannot take place as planned this year. The organisers have decided to cancel the event due to the corona crisis. “People’s health takes top priority,” said Frank Kemperman, Chairman of the Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein (ALRV). He went on to say that against the background of the national and international developments as well as the measures adopted by the Federal Government, it was decided to cancel the CHIO Aachen 2020.

“This was a very emotional and very difficult decision for us,” stated Michael Mronz, General Manager of the Aachener Reitturnier GmbH (ART). According to Mronz, in spite of the fact that the CHIO Aachen is well-aligned thanks to its strong, reliable partners and the great support of its loyal spectators, the situation still presents a huge challenge. However, the fans and friends of the CHIO Aachen won’t have to completely miss out. “We will organise a virtual CHIO Aachen 2020,” reported Michael Mronz. It will at least be possible to experience the legendary CHIO Aachen atmosphere in digital form. The organisers will present more details about the project over the next few days.

The corona cancellation is the first time that the CHIO Aachen has ever been cancelled. The history of the meanwhile largest equestrian event in the world began in 1898. The Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein was founded, initially horse races, subsequently smaller horse shows were organised. International equestrian events have been staged in Aachen since the 1920s, the only time the event didn’t take place was during the Second World War, from 1940 to 1945. However, competitions were held at the showgrounds at the Aachen Soers in 1946 already again, from 1947 onwards on an international basis. In the meantime, each year around 350,000 guests from all over the globe visit the traditional competition grounds before the gates of Aachen in the course of the ten days of the event.

And they evidently identify themselves strongly with the CHIO Aachen: Because the organisers are currently experiencing an extraordinary phenomenon: “The solidarity of the people with their CHIO Aachen is immense during these difficult times,” reported Carl Meulenbergh, the ALRV President. Many of the ticket holders have already explained that they have decided to forego having their ticket price reimbursed. “We are sincerely grateful to them for this generous gesture,” stated Meulenbergh, because: “As a non-profit making organisation, the ALRV is reliant on this support.” Donors will of course receive a donation receipt.

Tickets that have already been purchased can be converted into tickets for the CHIO Aachen 2021 (June 25th to July 4th). All information and further options can be found at chioaachen.com/tickets. The CHIO Aachen team will now go about contacting all registered ticket customers and kindly asks everyone to currently refrain from placing telephone enquiries, because it will take some time to set up the technical requirements needed for the purpose. The offices of the CHIO Aachen remain closed to the public until further notice.

For all information see: www.chioaachen.com 

“For quite some time now, we have already been in intense communication with the International Equestrian Federation FEI, the German Equestrian Association, the authorities and our partners,” said Frank Kemperman, Chairman of the Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein e.V. (ALRV), organisers of the CHIO Aachen, and Michael Mronz, General Manager of the CHIO marketing company, the Aachener Reitturnier GmbH (ART). "Taking the current Coronavirus crisis into account, the aim behind these discussions is to weigh the options of what is the best solution for the CHIO Aachen and for all of the visitors, athletes with their horses, partners and staff of the show."

The original venue date at the beginning of June cannot be adhered to: “It makes no sense to stick to the planned date, the current and future health and safety of all persons involved in the show has absolute priority for us,” reported Frank Kemperman. The primary goal is thus now to organise the CHIO Aachen at a later date in the year.

As soon as the new date for the CHIO Aachen 2020 has been finalised, it will be announced immediately. The CHIO Aachen organisers will then also inform the ticket customers about all further necessary details. Due to the current circumstances, the offices of the CHIO Aachen will remain closed until further notice.

As a result of COVID-19, the organising committee of The Dutch Masters 2020 this afternoon announced that it has cancelled the event with immediate effect. National government guidelines state that events in the Netherlands involving over 100 people must be cancelled.

Event Director of The Dutch Masters, Marcel Hunze, commented: “The national government just announced that all events in The Netherlands where there are more than 100 people need to be cancelled. Although we only have 60 riders here at The Dutch Masters, together with the grooms and the organisers, we are far in excess of 100 people, so we had no other option than to cancel the event immediately. We’ve managed to speak to all of the event’s stakeholders in the last few minutes, and they totally understand and agree that there is no other alternative.”

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping family stands together in solidarity, with the organisers of CHIO Aachen, Spruce Meadows and CHI Geneva offering their unwavering support to The Dutch Masters and everyone associated with the Show.

Maikel van der Vleuten (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashlex Neuhof) Maikel van der Vleuten (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashlex Neuhof)

Who to Look Out For At The 2020 Dutch Masters

 

This year’s Dutch Masters, held from 12 – 15 March 2020, will see over 65,000 spectators descend on the town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch to watch some of the world’s best riders go head to head. Audiences can expect an all-encompassing programme of equestrian competitions, where some of the world’s most distinguished show jumping and dressage riders will be competing. The Rolex Grand Prix, the pinnacle of this year’s event, will culminate on the Sunday afternoon, where a variety of equestrian’s elite riders will do battle to become the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender.

Rolex Grand Slam of Show jumping Rider Watch

The Brabanthallen ‘s-Hertogenbosch 14,500 capacity will welcome a number of the world’s best horse and rider partnerships. The 2020 Dutch Master’s will feature multiple contenders who will be vying for victory in the first Major of the calendar year.

Rolex Testimonee, Steve Guerdat (SUI), is no stranger to achieving excellence at the Majors. Three-time winner of CHI Geneva, the current World No.1 will be hoping to emulate this success at The Dutch Masters this year. He brings with him a formidable number of horses, putting him in good stead for the upcoming competition, in his bid to become the new live contender.

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender, Martin Fuchs (SUI), is also in contention. Having already achieved so much at a young age, his career highlights include an individual silver medal at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games and most recently, an individual gold medal at the 2019 FEI European Championships. Fuchs has also shown a run of recent good form, securing a first-place victory with Stalando 2 in the Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup CSI 5* and he will be hoping to add this year’s Dutch Master’s trophy to his impressive list of accomplishments. The Swiss Rolex Testimonee will be partnered with a strong string of horses, including his top mount Clooney 51, who led him to victory at CHI Geneva last December.

Henrik Von Eckermann (SWE), a previous live contender, is one to follow at this year’s Dutch Masters. Following a stellar 2019, including victories in the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters and at CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show, Eckermann will be hoping to defend his title and re-take the reigns as the live contender. The strong partnership with the talented Toveks Mary Lou, has allowed the Swedish rider to rise up the world rankings and the mare’s ability to produce quick jump-off times in small arenas, means there is no doubt he will be feeling confident heading to The Netherlands next week.

Legendary equestrian, and former World No.1, Scott Brash (GBR) is a name synonymous with success in the Majors. In 2015, the Scotsman made history by becoming the first rider to win the three consecutive Majors of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Brash has already attained some enviable recent results, including a stunning victory in the Turkish Airlines Olympia Grand Prix and second place in the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva last December. As the British rider creeps up the world rankings, all eyes will be on him at this first Major of the year.

Daniel Deusser (GER); World No.3, is also a rider to watch at this year’s Dutch Masters. The German has consistently posted top finishes across numerous 5* competitions and has been in touching distance of a Major victory on more than one occasion. Fellow German teammate, Marcus Ehning, brings a wealth of experience to this year’s Dutch Masters. After riding Prêt a Tout to victory in the Rolex Grands Prix at CHI Geneva and CHIO Aachen in 2018, the former live contender will be hoping to put himself in contention for this year’s competition in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

From across the pond, USA’s Kent Farrington is known for his speedy displays in jump-offs, highlighted in the 2019 Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final where Farrington produced a lightning fast round to lift the coveted trophy. Aboard his new bay mare, Austria 2, the fast duo knocked an incredible 2.22 seconds off the time set by Ireland's Darragh Kenny in a breathtaking display of skill and speed. Fans can expect more exceptional horsemanship from Farrington, that of which also lead him to be victorious at the 2019 Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen.

The home crowd can look forward to seeing a strong contingency of contenders including former World No.1 Harrie Smolders and European gold medalist Jeroen Dubbeldam who will both be pushing for big results. It will be also be an emotional occasion for Dutch rider, Maikel van der Vleuten who will be retiring his legendary horse Verdi TN at the Show following an incredible 15-year partnership.

New ad campaign (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam) New ad campaign (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam)

Following the success of the 2018 two year campaign ‘Surpass yourself and become a legend’, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has launched an innovative new advertising campaign ahead of The Dutch Masters, the opening Major of the year, where the world’s best will go head-to-head in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands, from the 12th to 15th March 2020.

With this new theme, ‘The Quest for Excellence’, the campaign features a powerful and poignant 60-second film which tells the story of the passion and dedication needed to achieve one of the hardest feats in the sport, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. The concept comprises carefully selected footage from each of the four Majors that make up the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, mixed with pioneering graphics that highlight the key attributes.

The new ad, being more graphically advanced than previous years, aims to transcend the traditional boundaries of equestrianism, by breaking new ground and being more inclusive. ‘The Quest for Excellence’ enables the targeting of a variety of groups, from die-hard equestrian fans, to sports lovers, to those who relish the challenge of an almost impossible quest.

New ad campaign (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam) New ad campaign (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam)

There will be a global digital activation across numerous platforms, such as TV and social media in order to further promote the theme of ‘The Quest for Excellence’ to a wider audience. A shorter 30-second film will also be released ahead of the Dutch Masters, which will feature predominantly on the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping social media channels and will also be released on TV.

Michael Mronz; President of the RGS Steering Committee commented “This new campaign clearly shows the evolution and innovation of Show Jumping, coupled with what it takes to reach the very top. The sport is steeped in history and tradition, so we wanted to showcase this but with a modern twist.”

Mronz continues; “We wanted to create something that was truly emotive while highlighting the intricacies of the sport and bringing them to life.”

Swiss rider, Martin Fuchs, started his ‘quest for excellence’ in December last year, following a stellar performance in the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva. As the Rolex Grand Slam live contender, the words from this new ad will resonate with him significantly as he continues his journey towards one of the most coveted prizes in show jumping.

Check out this link to see the new film

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