The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is returning to Switzerland for the last Major in the year 2016: The best show-jumpers in the world will be competing against each other from December 8th-11th, and on the final Sunday they will be battling it out to claim the victory in the famous “Rolex Grand Prix.” An interview with the current Grand Slam challenger, Scott Brash, about exceptional horses, exceptional rides and last-minute shopping at the foot of the Swiss Alps.
Just one year ago you went down in history as the first rider ever to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Now, with your back-to-back victory at Spruce Meadows in September, you are once again the title contender. Why is the Rolex Grand Slam still such a strong attraction for you?
Scott Brash: I think it has a strong hold on everyone because Aachen, Calgary and Geneva are the three Majors that every rider wants to win. Every rider wants to be part of the Rolex Grand Slam and have the opportunity to try to do what not many people have done in history.
And if you should succeed in claiming the Grand Slam victory again, it would be particularly legendary. Because this year you didn’t compete in Aachen and Calgary with your long-standing successful partner, “Hello Sanctos”, with whom you were able to win the three Majors in 2014/15, but indeed with “Ursula XII”. Do you think this mare also has the potential to claim the Grand Slam title?
Brash: To be honest, yes I do and it is because she is also an exceptional horse. She is unique and it is rare to have two unbelievable horses in your lifetime, but she is certainly one of them. She was very close at Aachen, coming second, but proved she has been good enough to be there or thereabouts so all eyes are on Geneva for her now.
So you will be bringing “Ursula” to Geneva for the “Rolex Grand Prix”?
Brash: Yes, “Ursula” will be coming to Geneva. We have already started organising her programme straight after Calgary with Geneva in mind. She started her campaign indoors in October to get into the indoor season and we have set her up as well as we could for Geneva.
What are the special challenges of the Major in Geneva as part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping?
Brash: In contrast to Aachen and Calgary and their huge grass arenas, Geneva is indoors for a start. But I think it is different to the other Majors in the sense that the “Rolex Grand Prix” in Geneva is only one round instead of two, so you are nearly guaranteed a jump-off with the top horses and top riders. It is going to be a testing course with a fast jump-off there as well. So technically, it is very different to Aachen or Calgary, but there is going to be fantastic sport and I am looking forward to it.
With its date in mid-December, the CHI Geneva is not only well-known for its great sport, but also for its exceptional atmosphere and the festive ambiance. Do the riders also get into the Christmas mood?
Brash: Geneva is such a wonderful show and they have some great stands where you can buy lots of Christmas gifts and I usually do my last-minute shopping in and around there. It would probably be early Christmas shopping for me! But I think having Christmas just around the corner lends the show a great ambiance and everyone is in a great frame of mind and that creates a nice atmosphere to ride in.
And, of course, the perfect Christmas present for you would be to finish the competition as the Major winner...
Brash: Well, the “Rolex Grand Prix” will be a tough competition again and extremely hard to win. But I will give it my best shot!