Jumping legend Marcus Ehning wins the Rolex Grand Prix and becomes the new Rolex Grand Slam live contender
Germany’s Marcus Ehning road a masterclass in the jump-off aboard Pret A Tout to win the Rolex Grand Prix and his second Major of the year. Fifth-to-go, Ehning shaved over three seconds off the time set by World No.1 Harrie Smolders and produced a time that was impossible to beat. Much to the delight of the home crowd, Steve Guerdat and Albfuehren's Bianca were clear but had to settle for second place, finishing just .45 seconds behind the eventual winners.
How did your ride feel tonight?
I am really happy with my performance and with my horse. I thought it was an amazing course with the right winner! Last time I was in this position was for the World Cup™ Final, so quite a few years ago, and I am very happy to be back here again. The victory feels like an early Christmas present.
Pret A Tout has performed so well this year, can you talk about your relationship with him?
This horse is so clever and has such good experience. He is very powerful and a very good jump-off horse. It is easy for him to leave strides out and he always manages the turns.
Did you feel the jump-off course suited you?
I thought the course was really good, it wasn’t too crazy, it was quite technical and asked a lot of questions, which I like. It felt like a very full course and I thought that if I did everything to the best of my ability I would be in with a good chance.
All the riders say they don’t know what your secret is, can you tell us what it is? How do you go so fast?
I am only as good as my horses, I have been around a long time so have a lot of experience which helps. Steve (Guerdat) is very fast, he still has a few years to catch up with me. I thought his jump-off in the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final was incredible. I don’t think I have a secret, I just ride the way I do and make sure I have the best horses.
Looking ahead to the next Major, The Dutch Masters, will you be focusing on the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping now?
I have been competing for a long time, and I know that you can’t get too ahead of yourself. We will take each day as it comes and see what position we are in early next year.
Rolex Grand Slam winner Scott Brash retires Ursula
Rolex Testimonee Scott Brash, the only rider to have ever won the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, announced, today, the retirement of his 17-year-old mare Ursula XII. In a heartfelt interview Scott pays tribute to the Scottish Sport Horse as he reflects on the incredible journey they have had together.
Did you feel emotional knowing this would be Ursula’s final performance?
It felt amazing out there, but yes, I have mixed emotions, in one way I am feeling very sad that it’s her last event, but on the other hand I am delighted with her and how she performed tonight. She has been an amazing horse and to jump big courses like that at her age and feel as good as she does is a credit to my team and to the owners. I get a lot of reward in stopping her at the top end of the sport, in such good health and condition, which for me is the main thing.
There were a lot of world-class combinations in the jump-off, were you happy with how it went?
I was slightly disappointed with the jump-off, being first to go is really difficult especially with so many fast riders behind me. The course rode slightly differently to how I walked it and if I had been slightly later and seen some of the others go, I might have changed my tactics slightly. But Ursula jumped amazingly, I can’t complain, and I am very happy.
What’s next for Ursula?
Ursula will stay with us at my stables. We are hoping she will go in foal next year, she will make a really good mother as she has the best temperament and I think she really wants to be a mother, when she sees other foals, she always looks at them and is interested in them, so fingers crossed for that. We will make sure she enjoys a very happy retirement and she will certainly be very pampered.
What’s been your best moment with Ursula?
I think winning the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex at CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in 2016 has to by my favourite moment with her. I don’t think I will ever ride a horse again that can jump around such a big course as easily as Ursula can. She gave me an unbelievable feeling around that course and I am really going to miss that.
Behind the stable door with: Rodrigo Pessoa
You hold the equal record number of wins for the IJRC Rolex Top 10 Final and Rolex Grand Prix combined, why do you think you always performed so well here?
Geneva is a show that I have always liked very much and being part of the Rolex family meant I always wanted to come here and do my best. I think Geneva was also just a really lucky place for me, I was very fortunate to have such incredible horses and everything always used to come together on the day.
In your mind what makes the perfect student? What are you looking for when you’re coaching?
I’m looking for receptive students, students who are open to changes and trust what you are saying from your experience and from what you are picking up on that they can improve. I am looking for students who are not blind to what I am saying, because as a coach I have been through a lot of experiences in my life and seen a lot, so I can use this to help the students.
Who do you think will win the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday?
That’s a difficult question because the best riders and horses in the world are here, it is very hard to pick one. We have Kent Farrington, McLain Ward, Pedro Veniss, Steve Guerdat, Scott Brash, we have so many, so it is difficult to say. What I can say is that it will be an outstanding class with the best riders and horses in the world competing, which guarantees an unbelievable spectacle.
When you are looking at younger horses what qualities are you looking for to make the next 5* jumping horse?
You look at the raw qualities of the horse, how intelligent it is, how much scope it has, and how it corrects its mistakes. When a horse is young you don’t know for sure, a lot of things will happen before the horse becomes a 5* horse, there’s a lot of questions that only time can answer and so it is really difficult to always predict correctly.
If you could compete on any horse in the world that has ever lived, which would it be?
Probably Jappeloup, Pierre Durand’s horse, the Olympic champion of ’88, he would be the horse of my dreams