Rolex Rider Watch
After a highly competitive jump-off, Sweden’s Henrik Von Eckermann clinched the Turkish Airlines-Preis von Europa title with grey gelding, Castello 194. He spoke after his victory:
How did the course feel today?
The course was very long, it had three combinations, one triple, one double and of course the double plank which caused a few problems. The time was hard to keep inside of and with it being such a long course the horses were tiring at the end. I was happy with my horse’s performance and was excited to reach the jump-off.
What were your tactics going into the jump-off?
My tactics were to watch McLain’s round and work out were I could shave time off, as he is normally the one to beat in a jump-off like this. I saw a little hole where I could take him, it was the second last, he was little bit out to the oxer and I have a very scopey horse, so I thought if I stayed a little tighter to the jump, I could catch him, which we did.
How will you prepare for the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday?
The horse will need to stay fresh and happy in the mind ahead of Sunday. It is a big wish to win the Rolex Grand Prix, but we all know how difficult the competition is. Of course, I want to chase the Rolex Grand Slam, I was second in the Geneva Grand Prix, so hopefully I can go one better on this weekend.
Word from the organisers with Frank Kemperman and Michael Mronz
Chairman of the Managing Board, Frank Kemperman, and General Manager, Michael Mronz, took some time out their busy schedules to talk about what makes CHIO Aachen such a unique show:
CHIO Aachen is such a historical Show, how do you keep evolving and improving it?
Frank: Aachen has a rich history, if you look at the list of winners it includes only the best riders in the world. It is regarded by the riders as one of the best shows to compete at and is the place they want to win. We do everything possible to be one of the best events in the world, we look at what’s happening in other sports and do what we can to produce the best facilities, competitions and sport for our riders and our spectators.
Michael: Social media is very important for the future of this event. Our audiences want to be able to receive information instantly from wherever they are, so it is key for us to focus on delivering this. We are investing a lot of time and money into the development of the app, it was started here in Aachen and we have seen other shows follow suit and develop apps of their own. I even learnt yesterday that a top fashion show is using a similar system as the judging app, so it is good to know we are one step ahead of them here at Aachen! Over the last few years we have grown the digital team and have five people dedicated to social media now. We want to make sure we are really focusing on our audience attending the Show, but also those who want to be a part of it from their homes.
This Show has been described as the Wimbledon of Equestrian, how does a Major in tennis compare to a Major in Equestrian?
Michael: Tennis is more well known of course, but the introduction of the Rolex Grand Slam in equestrian enables the sport to become more accessible to people who do not follow it already. Like in tennis, the Rolex Grand Slam is made up of four Majors and spectators know that these are the four best competitions and the ones that the riders aspire to win. They bring the best sport and the best competitors which attract the wider audiences. It is a major step towards the development of show jumping and the strive to reach wider audiences and give people outside the equestrian world an understanding of the sport. Of course, it’s nice to be compared to Wimbledon, I would say we are quite different in terms of size and reach, but it means we need to be more creative and innovative to try and get to that standard.
Who do you think will win the Rolex Grand Prix?
Frank: That is hard question! We have the world’s best riders compete here each year, so it could be anyone. Each year we try to predict who will win, but the talent is so good it’s just impossible to guess. Every rider wants to win the Rolex Grand Prix, it is always their main focus when coming to compete at Aachen. I have just received a message that Philipp Weishaupt is not taking part in the jump-off of this class, because he has now qualified for the Rolex Grand Prix and wants to focus on that. It is such an important competition for all the riders and with such great horse and rider combinations this year, it will be a highly competitive class.
Behind the stable door : Interview with Dale Hailstone, groom to Laura Kraut
Dale Hailstone, 26 years-old, was born in Glasgow and started working for one of USA’s top riders, Laura Kraut, four years ago. He has moved up the ranks and is now Kraut’s head groom, travelling around the world with her to the most prestigious events on the Show Jumping calendar. We spoke with Hailstone as he prepares Kraut’s team of horses ahead of the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday:
What makes CHIO Aachen such a special event?
For me it’s without a doubt the best show in the world. It’s amazing for the grooms, the riders and the horses. We go to so many shows across the globe but a lot of them aren’t very horse friendly. Aachen is so good for the horses, we have so much space to graze and exercise them, you can plan your day easily as the facilities are so accessible. The atmosphere is incredible, and the ground is super for the horses, so it is the perfect place to compete.
Which horses are competing this week?
This week, we have Confu, Deauville S., Zeremonie, and SFS Vincomte for the younger class. All the horses have great characters. Deauville is very special in the ring, he loves it in there! He always canters sideways to the jumps, I actually don’t know how Laura get’s over them, she is so good! As soon as he is out of the ring he becomes quiet and is very happy just to stand still and talk to people who come and say hello to him! Confu loves to whinny as he enters the ring, it’s almost like he wants to let people know he has arrived!
We think Zeremonie will be competing in the Rolex Grand Prix, Laura won Leading Rider of the Show last year and Zeremonie won Best Horse, so they are a great combination and we hope to do even better this year and win the Rolex Grand Prix. We are so lucky that we have a good selection of Grand Prix horses to choose from, but the plan right now is that Zeremonie will jump in the Grand Prix.
Do you have any secret grooming tips?
Actually, I do have quite a good tip; it sounds very basic but one thing I never go without is baby powder – especially with grey horses. It helps to cover up marks and does all sorts of wonders to their coats, I also put it inside their tendon boots, so they don’t rub which keeps them comfortable. It’s cheap and cheerful but something I never leave home without.