International Ring. A name that is awe-inspiring. It is the Main Stadium of Spruce Meadows. The place, where legends are born. Only exceptional athletes are allowed to enter it, because only the best of the best are allowed to compete on the enormous grass arena in the heart of the showgrounds.
The rider that jumps to victory here on the last day of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, will leave a very special impression behind. He will go down in the history of the sport as a Major winner.
Last year, the British show-jumper, Scott Brash, succeeded in doing so. But that wasn’t all either: In that split second when he jumped the last obstacle in the Grand Prix clear with his amazing horse “Hello Sanctos”, the world-class rider Scott Brash, became an equestrian sport legend. With his third Major victory in succession, he won the Rolex Grand Slam and thus claimed the throne of show jumping.
Now it is down to his challengers to reach for Scott Brash’s crown! Particularly one young man from Germany, because Philipp Weishaupt will be entering the arena as the winner of Aachen. He is placing his hopes on the stallion, “LB Convall”, who is extremely familiar with Spruce Meadows: Namely, he and Weishaupt spent four weeks in Calgary this summer – shortly before their victory at the CHIO Aachen.
“‘Convall’ was able to get used to the huge grass ring there and put in very good performances in the advanced jumping classes,” his 31-yearold rider explained. So, the chances are looking good for the second Major victory in succession for the German pair. But one certainly shouldn’t underestimate this man either: Steve Guerdat, the exceptional Swiss rider, who at the age of 34 has already won almost all of the prestigious titles in the sport. Olympic gold medallist, European Champion, many-time World Cup Final winner – so many victories, so many achievements. He has won the Major in Geneva three times already: In 2006, 2013 – and most recently in 2015.
Thus, the Rolex Grand Slam in Calgary is also a current topic for Guerdat too: Following the “two-out-of-three” mode, he could pick up a bonus for two victories at non-consecutive Majors. Hence, should Guerdat win the Grand Prix of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, he would receive 250,000 Euros in addition to the prize-money.
Yet, it is not the prospect of winning the bonus that is attracting Steve Guerdat to the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ at the foot of the Canadian Rocky Mountains again this year. “I love the sport and the huge events have always fascinated me. Aachen, Calgary and Geneva – they are Grand Prix that every rider wants to win at least once in a lifetime.”
That is precisely why they are all here: Olympic gold medallists, World Champions, shooting stars, the top riders in the world rankings. Because there is hardly any other more worthy place in the world to challenge one’s fortune. Here, in Spruce Meadows, where so many big success stories began. Who will ride to victory in the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex” on September 11th? Who will leave the legendary “International Ring” as winner of the Major?