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Rolex Grand Prix 2017 – a dream comes true for Gregory Wathelet

To be eternalised on the winners’ board next…


To be eternalised on the winners’ board next to the entrance of the Main Stadium at the Soers – this dream came true today for Gregory Wathelet when he opened a new chapter in the history of the Rolex Grand Slam after riding to victory in the Rolex Grand Prix of the CHIO Aachen 2017.

Two rounds, one jump-off, one goal: The Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen. Four riders had reached the jump-off. The moment to celebrate had already come for the Course Designer, Frank Rothenberger, even before the most important jumping class of the weekend had come to an end. “I was just happy that there was a jump-off at all, not like last year,” commented the experienced course builder. Namely, last year Philipp Weishaupt was the only rider, who didn’t pick up any obstacle faults in both regular rounds, so he won without having to ride against the clock in a jump-off. This year it was different. Rothenberger wanted to have three or four riders in the jump-off and everything went exactly as planned, there were four: Marc Houtzager (NED) with Sterrehof‘s Calimero, Luciana Diniz (POR) with Fit For Fun, Gregory Wathelet (BEL) with Coree and Laura Kraut (USA) with Zeremonie.

Marc Houtzager and the just ten-year-old KWPN gelding Calimero by Quidam de Revel entered the ring first in the jump-off. Their round was a little reminiscent of a young horses jumping class. The strategy was obvious – to jump clear. They succeeded. The pair galloped over the course in excellent style, but with the clock stopping at 53.66 in a time that could definitely be beaten.

Luciana Diniz and her graceful Hanoverian-bred mare, Fit For Fun by For Pleasure, sauntered into the Soers in walk on a long rein. Jump-off? No, not today. At least that is what the outsiders thought. In fact there is method in these tactics: “There is power in serenity. It is the moment of peace that gives us strength,” explained Diniz later. Once she had arrived in the centre of the Stadium, the Brazilian show-jumper, who rides for Portugal, took up the reins. Fit For Fun’s ears pricked forward and she was immediately ready to pick up the signal. And the pair really flew over the obstacles. One had the impression that the small mare had grown wings to master the fences. In a tight turn to the Mercedes-Benz oxer, the mare slipped, a collective “Oh!” could be heard from the mouths of the 40,000-strong crowd. But Fit For Fun saved herself over the huge obstacle without coming anywhere near the poles and immediately picked up speed again. Clear in 47.40 seconds. A super time!

Gregory Wathelet knew it is all or nothing. As he said: “It doesn’t suffice to give 100 percent to win here in Aachen. One has to give 500 percent!” And he wasn’t the only one to give 500 percent, his mare did too. Both of them wanted to win today. Wathelet and the eleven-year-old Westphalian Coree by Cornet Obolensky have been a team since 2014. They had already jumped clear in “two or three” Grand Prix. But they hadn’t managed to reach the winning round until today. But Wathelet is convinced that all doors are open to Coree: “When she goes like she did today, she can jump everything. It is a super feeling. Today she was good to control, the contact was good. She got better from round to round today and became more and more confident.” In the jump-off Wathelet risked everything, took the turns as tightly as the footing allowed and Coree gave everything. When the two flew over the last obstacle, the Rolex oxer, the clock stopped at 46.60 seconds. The lead! Applause!

However, there was still one rider to go, who could strip Wathelet of the victory: Laura Kraut with the Holstein-bred Cero daughter, Zeremonie. The two of them gave it their very best shot, but they weren’t able to match Wathelet’s time. And then at the last fence a pole fell. So, the victory went to Gregory Wathelet. Finally! In 2015 he celebrated his biggest individual achievement, namely silver at the European Championships here at the Soers. And now he is the next contender for the Rolex Grand Slam. Whereby, the likeable Belgian rider, said modestly: “First of all I will enjoy this victory! And this evening I will spend some time with my team. For me it is a dream come true that I will see my name on the winners’ board. But the back up of a whole team made this all possible as well as my fantastic horse, of course.”

Gregory Wathelet has only been riding Coree since 2014. But he knows her much longer than that: “I have been watching the mare since she was six or seven. At the time she belonged to the Haras de Hus, whom I rode other horses for. The plan was for me to start riding her as an eight-year-old.” That is what we did. However, it was always clear that the mare was to be sold one day. Wathelet recognised what a gem she was and found in Judith Gölkel of the Nybor Pferde GmbH & Co. KG a sponsor, who purchased the mare for him. Farsightedness that has paid off for both sides.

Even if Gregory Wathelet intends to enjoy this victory first, for him the Rolex journey will now continue. The next stop is Spruce Meadows. The next Rolex Major will be staged on September 10th –Wathelet’s 37th birthday. A 500,000 Euro bonus would make a wonderful gift!

Flash Quotes

SAP Prize goes to the USA

Two veterans secured themselves the victory in the…


Two veterans secured themselves the victory in the SAP Prize earlier today: the two-time team Olympic gold-medallist McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z.

The reigning World Cup winner, Ward and his 15-year-old Zangersheide-bred gelding, HH Carlos & by Chellano Z, crossed the finish line in a time of 60.21 seconds and no other pair were able to match it. Even if Felix Hassmann and the 12-year-old Brazilian-bred grey horse SL Brazonado by SL Baluarte did their very best. The clock stopped at 60.80. Third place went to the rider from Chile, Samuel Parot, with a further product of the Zangersheide Stud Book: Atlantis by Andiamo (61.60 seconds).

The winner commented after his ride: “I was the eighth to go in this competition. But it wasn’t particularly a disadvantage for me to be to be one of the first riders, because Carlos is such an experienced and fast horse that I didn’t have to watch the others. He is 15 years old, but he is in great shape. This year I won six world ranking classes in Calgary with him as well as the Grand Prix of Falsterbo. I will also be riding him at the CSIO Dublin next week. I am happy to have won this competition and I hope my luck continues.”

Lorenzo de Lucas and Jeunesse van‘t Paradijs win the Final of the Sparkassen-Youngsters-Cup

The name of the winner in the Sparkassen-Youngsters-Cup…


The name of the winner in the Sparkassen-Youngsters-Cup is very fitting “the Youth from Paradise”. Her rider prophesies a big future for her.

Before the Final in the Sparkassen-Youngsters-Cup had been decided, one had already tipped that no one would be able to match the time set by Lorenzo de Lucas and Jeunesse van‘t Paradijs – 39.46 seconds. And that was indeed the case, which was no real surprise for the rider from Italy: “She is a fantastic mare. I have been riding her now for almost a year. My first big show was the World Championship of the 7-year-olds, where we qualified for the final and in the final, I had one fence down. But I already knew then that she is exceptional. She has a lot of scope and is extremely careful.

The 8-year-old BWP mare inherited all of these positive attributes, she namely descends from one international winner after the next. Her sire Emerald is one of the top horses of the Dutch show-jumper, Harrie Smolders. The sire of her dam, Heartbreaker, was not only highly successful on the sporting circuit, but has also reached a legendary status among the stud stallions. The same applies for her great-grandfather, Nabab de Reve, to name but a few of her famous ancestors. With such a talent under the saddle, Luca’s tactics couldn’t go wrong: “I rode very fast because I knew that with the riders that were following me I had to go as fast as possible.”

After all 14 pairs had reached the jump-off of this important youngsters competition for young jumping horses at the CHIO Aachen 2017, nine of whom also remained clear in the jump-off. Second place went to Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, who jumped clear in 40.26 with the eight-year-old Westphalian-bred gelding, Calle by Carell x Capitalist. She was also full of praise for her horse: “He is phenomenal. It’s a new horse for me, it’s only his fourth show with me. He wasn’t impressed by the arena or the lights. He jumped the course easily and didn’t have any problems with the big water jump. I really think he is ready to move up to jump bigger.”

Scott Brash claimed third place with the also eight-year-old KWPN gelding, Hello Senator. The Carambole x Indoctro son reached the finish line in a time of 41.22 seconds.

Christian Ahlmann fastes in the jumping competition with a winning round

After taking second place in the Prize of…


After taking second place in the Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia Christian Ahlmann was almost more or less consoled with a weekend at Aachen that he had so much looked forward but which got off to a bad start. Today, he has plenty of reason to cheer again.

Ahlmann rode his Zangersheider-bred Caribis Z who has been consistently successful over the past months to victory in the jumping competition with a winning round in a time of just 44.33 seconds. He was followed by the Swiss Olympic gold-medallist, Steve Guerdat, in second place with the Selle Francais mare, Ulysse des Forets (0/44.54 seconds). Ireland’s speed specialist, Bertram Allen, finished third with his 13-year-old Kannan daughter, Molly Malone V (0/44.81).

Ahlmann was not the only German rider to be placed in the competition. Laura Klaphake came eighth with Silverstone G (4/46.23), Christian Kukuk finished ninth with Limonchello NT (4/46.23) and Felix Haßmann came tenth with Balzaci (4/46.96).

 

Final of Germany’s U25 Jumping Trophy of the German Top Equestrian Sport Foundation, Prize of the Müter Family goes to Maurice Tebbel

In Germany’s U25 Jumping Trophy, show-jumping heroes of…


In Germany’s U25 Jumping Trophy, show-jumping heroes of tomorrow are made. The Final at the CHIO 2017 went to Maurice Tebbel, a rider who already joined the ranks of the famous riders on Thursday.

Maurice Tebbel, 23 years old, significantly contributed to the German victory in the Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup on Thursday evening with two clear rounds. Today, a further decision was on the agenda, the final of Germany’s U25 Jumping Trophy of the German Top Equestrian Sport Foundation, Prize of the Müter Family. For this competition, Tebbel had saddled a youngster from his stables, the just eight-year-old Rhineland-bred stallion Don Diarado by Diarado. Careful, with a lot of potential and a little spooky, was how Tebbel described his stallion. In other words, everything the heart of a show-jumper can wish for. And Maurice steered the bay stallion over all of the difficult tasks of the challenging 3-star course in a routine-like manner. Six pairs reached the jump-off, the winner reached the finish line almost three seconds faster than his closest fellow competitor.

Second place went to Marisa Braig with the Zangersheider-bred gelding Pablito van Erpekom by Pablo v. Berkenbroeck. She jumped clear in a time of 52.07 seconds. Thanks to a further clear round Alexander Potthoff finished third with the Oldenburg-bred Quidam’s Rubin daughter, Quinara, in spite of the pair notching up the slowest time in the jump-off (55.92 seconds).

2017 is Maurice Tebbel’s year here in Aachen. First the Nations’ Cup and today the Final in the U25 Jumping Trophy. “Winning a competition here in Aachen, is always something special!” commented the overwhelmed winner.

 

A chance for everyone

Heinrich-Hermann Engemann, who together with Otto Becker trains the German show-jumpers, said “We are very lucky to have many young talented riders here in Germany, who come from equestrian backgrounds. That makes it much easier. The parents of many of the participants in this competition have also already ridden in Aachen.” This is also applies to the winner. Engemann also knows: “The competition is tough here. There are many talented young riders and we try to give them all a chance. Series like the U25 Jumping Trophy offer them all the opportunity to prove themselves.” The successful trainer reported that many other Chefs d’Equipe were envious of Germany’s promotion system that accompanies the children and pony riders through to the world elite. The U25 Tour is the link between the Young Riders and top sport. Maurice Tebbel’s results in Aachen and also the further achievements of hitherto winners of Germany’s U25 Jumping Trophy (i.e. Denis Nielsen’s German Champion title in 2015 and Guido Klatte’s sixth place in the World Cup Final in 2017) are the best example that this works.

What does one need if one wants to make it to the top? “It is not possible without talent,” stressed Engemann. “One can learn to ride, but one needs instinct. Not everything is plannable. One has to make a lot of decisions intuitively. This intuition is very important, plus the readiness to work hard for success, one has to be consistent and self-critical. Personality also plays a major role.”

The “Master of Faster” wins the Prize of the North Rhine-Westphalia

The US American Kent Farrington is number one…


The US American Kent Farrington is number one in the world rankings of the show jumpers and is well-known for his fast jump-offs, which he impressively demonstrated in the Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Where others hesitate, Kent Farrington puts his foot down again. And with the 16-year-old KWPN gelding, Uceko by Celano, he has a horse that suits such tactics perfectly: “He has a big canter stride and can take any obstacle at full speed,” was how Farrington described the advantages of his grey gelding. “That is why grass arenas like this one suit him well.” And so the actually rather small and non-conspicuous gelding claimed his first big victory in Aachen in the Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia. In the second round the time on the clock stopped for the pair at 46.65 seconds. If Farrington has his way this was just the start – after the subsequent press conference, he asked the Show Director, Frank Kemperman, to leave his name sign up on the podium for the next competitions to come…

Second place in the highlight in the jumping stadium on the CHIO Friday, went to Christian Ahlmann, which was a nice consolation for his otherwise modest start to the show. Namely, on Wednesday, he and his 17-year-old successful horse Taloubet Z – like several other colleagues – fell victim to the storm that exploded over NRW. Taloubet was so shocked that he refused the water jump twice, which is totally untypical for this Galoubet A son, with whom Ahlmann has more or less won everything. “It was such a shame! He is in great form, he’s like a young horse. And I had so much been looking forward to this weekend!” Quite rightly so, as he proved today with a clear round in 47.14 seconds.

Third place went to the German Champion Simone Blum at her Soers debut, the clock stopped just six hundredths of a second behind Ahlmann. After her top horse, the ten-year-old Askari daughter DSP Alice sustained an injury at another show, Blum’s first appearance in Aachen was up in the air. So, she was all the more lucky that she was ultimately able to compete here and collect today’s white ribbon. Despite the fact that her chestnut mare was totally overwhelmed by the setting on the warm-up area, as her rider revealed. “But she really enjoyed the prize-giving ceremony!” And that is the main thing!

Cian O‘Connor wins his favourite jumping class, the Prize of Sparkasse

The hunting competition over ditches and banks, the…


The hunting competition over ditches and banks, the Prize of Sparkasse, is one of those special classes that makes the World Equestrian Festival, CHIO Aachen, so unique. In 2017, the winner comes from a country where hunting has a long tradition, namely Cian O‘Connor comes from Ireland.

O’Connor explained that he had already won this class “four or five times”, he couldn’t remember exactly. But one thing he knew for sure: “I love this type of traditional competition with natural obstacles. And the crowd find it super too. That is important! All of this is what turns Aachen into the without doubt best show in the world!”

His partner in success today was the 12-year-old Swiss-bred Conteur son, Copain du Perchet CH, a horse that Cian O‘Connor described as follows: “He likes jumping natural fences, but he can also compete in the Big Tour, he is a real all-rounder.” He added that the horse’s big advantage is his huge canter stride. “I can always do one stride less without him losing his balance.” That saves time. His best time today: 68.42 seconds.

Second place went to Philipp Rüping and Chalypsa, who jumped clear in a time of 68.70 seconds. The pair already won the Prize of Handwerk on Wednesday. Afterwards Rüping had explained that speed jumping was right up the street of the Mecklenburg-bred Chacco-Blue daughter. And he had been delighted to pick up a golden ribbon at his Aachen debut. Now he has a silver ribbon to go with it.

The rider from Chile, Samuel Parot, finished third with the Selle Francais gelding, Quick du Pottier by Hurlevant de Breka after crossing the finish line clear in 70.36 seconds.

Mercedes Benz Nations’ Cup – Germany does it again!

History is written in Aachen and heroes are…


History is written in Aachen and heroes are made! Just like this evening during the Mercedes-Benz Nation’s Cup at the CHIO Aachen 2017, when Germany succeeded in claiming the victory in this traditional competition for the second time in succession.

And in what style! Otto Becker’s team didn’t pick up a single fault. Today, Becker had placed his bets on three experienced pairs – Marcus Ehning with Pret a Tout, Philipp Weishaupt and LB Convall, Marco Kutscher with Clenur – and one youngster: Maurice Tebbel, 23 years old. His horse: Chacco‘s Son, also only ten-years-young. On this evening, the pair were heralded as the heroes of Aachen. Double clear in their first Nations’ Cup appearance at the Soers! They didn’t even come anywhere near to touching a pole. It was as if Chacco‘s Son, knew what was at stake. The national coach’s strategy paid off. “It is simply incredible,” he said delighted. “I am so proud of the team! Winning here in Aachen, is simply something special. And when Maurice delivered his second clear round, I almost had to wipe a tear away.” It was an emotional evening in Aachen.

Particularly for Maurice Tebbel too. He already threw his arms up in the air after the first round and then around Chacco‘s Son’s neck. “Of course, one dreams about it happening, but when things really go that well, it is simply indescribable.” Maurice evidently couldn’t really believe what had just happened. Especially since he only had one thought while walking the course: “High!” One is certainly pleased to have a horse like Chacco‘s Son in such a situation, he said with respect for his four-legged partner. The two of them know each other inside out. The stallion already came to Tebbels as a foal. Maurice presented him at the stallion grading himself and gradually introduced him to the top sport after riding him in young horse competitions. They already took part in the big tour in Aachen last year and immediately claimed second place in the Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia Now he was sat on the podium in the press conference of the Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup, sat next to his role mode Marcus Ehning. As a winner. He couldn’t hope for more. Except for perhaps on Sunday, when he will do his best to win the Rolex Grand Prix.

Marcus Ehning was no less overjoyed about his double clear with Pret a Tout. But he is already familiar with the situation, namely in 2016 it was exactly the same. Well, not quite: “It is a shame Ludger (Beerbaum, editor’s note.) is no longer there! Because now I am the oldest one on the team!”

“It was a “perfect day all-round” for Philipp Weishaupt too. It was namely also his birthday. His comment: “This victory is the best birthday present ever!” Apart from that, I am sure 40,000 people have never sung “Happy Birthday” for him before as they did today, after he had jumped clear for the second time and thus secured the victory for Germany. Moreover, his fantastic L.B. Convall looked like he could definitely repeat last year’s victory in the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen.

The only rider things didn’t go well for was Marco Kutscher with Clenur. In addition to picking up faults in the first round, his horse also refused at the water ditch. Kutscher took it with humour: “I have thank my team colleagues today, my job today was to make the whole thing a little more exciting!”

 

Stalemate

Two teams shared second place, namely the USA and Switzerland, both on a total score of eight faults. After several teams excelled with clear rounds in the first round, the poles fell frequently in the second round. Several horses seem to have tired. Whereby the riders were of the unanimous opinion that Frank Rothenberger’s course was tricky, but fair.

Switzerland was represented by Werner Muff with Daimler (0/0), Martin Fuchs with Clooney (4/8), Nadja Peter Steiner with Saura de Fondcombe (0/8) and Steve Guerdat with Hannah (0/0). Their Chef d’Equipe Andy Kistler emphasised how proud he is of his team, especially of the lady in the team. It was namely her first appearance ever in Aachen. “Of course, it would have been super to win. But coming second here is fantastic too!” stated Kistler.

Robert Ridland, Chef d’Equipe of the USA, thought so too. He had nominated Kent Farrington with Gazelle (8/0), Elizabeth Madden with Coach (8/8), Laura Kraut with Zeremonie (0/0) and McLain Ward with HH Azur (0/0) for the team. His conclusion corroborated what 40,000 spectators took home with them: “What we saw here today was sport at the very highest level. It doesn’t get any better than that. And it is an honour for us to be able to compete here!”

There was a small incident during the competition when the gelding Titus, Guy William’s horse, stumbled on landing after an obstacle and had to be taken from the arena in an ambulance. After being inspected immediately in the clinic on the CHIO grounds, it was announced that he had suffered a sprained tendon. After a corresponding break he should be fit and ready to compete again.

Flash Quotes

STAWAG Prize goes to the Aachen fan, Beezie Madden

The course in the STAWAG Prize was certainly…


The course in the STAWAG Prize was certainly tricky, admitted the US rider, Elizabeth “Beezie” Madden. Whereby she excelled in mastering the challenges at hand.

The two-time team Olympic gold-medallist, who had saddled the Quintero son, Breitling LS, crossed the finish line almost three seconds faster than her fellow competitors. The guests from overseas sped over the course with a clear round in 66.01 seconds. “I love Aachen, it is always an honour to ride here. And winning here is something very special,” commented Madden.

The currently extremely successful, Felix Haßmann, who had saddled his Westphalian-bred stallion Balzaci, whom he steered to two Grand Prix victories at the last two shows, followed in second place after jumping clear in 68.59 seconds.

Third place went to a further rider from the USA, Laura Kraut, with the KWPN mare, Whitney, an Indoctro daughter, who crossed the jumped clear in 69.86 seconds.

Incidentally, the shooting stars of the German jumping scene, Laura Klaphake and Maurice Tebbel delivered the second and third best German results.

Tebbel and the Hanoverian-bred Calmé daughter, Camilla PJ ranked sixth. Laura Klaphake and Silverstone G by Diamant de Semilly finished eighth. In the morning, the co-national coach, Heinrich-Hermann Engemann, had raved: “It is a feast for the eyes to watch how they jump!!” Obviously it not only looks great, they are very successful too!

Philipp Weishaupt and his “intelligent” horse win the Sparkassen-Youngsters-Cup

How does the saying go? A good horse…


How does the saying go? A good horse only jumps as high as it has to? Philipp Weishaupt can confirm that. His horse, Call me Eva, does precisely that. She carried the Rolex Grand Prix winner of 2016 to a further triumph at the Soers today in the Sparkassen-Youngsters-Cup.

The Chacco-Blue daughter, Call me Eva, is eight years old. Philipp Weishaupt has been riding her for two years. “She is not a horse, who jumps excessively high,” the professional rider who is employed at the Beerbaum Stables. And this is exactly her strength: “She is incredibly intelligent, really clever!” This is how she jumped to victory today with a clear round in 60.29 seconds in the second classification of the Sparkassen-Youngsters-Cup, which comprises of three classes in total.

In second place – as on Wednesday in the first class – Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet with the highly talented Holsteiner Sandro Boy son, Sandero (0/60.90). Yesterday’s big winner, Canada’s Eric Lamaze, came third with the BWP mare, Jewel by Kannan (0/62.84).

Wednesday’s winner, the Spanish rider Alvarez Moya picked up four faults today with the just 7-year-old KWPN gelding G & C Wolf by Harley. The show-jumper had explained on Wednesday that one could recognise the quality of horses in Aachen. Today’s winner, Philipp Weishaupt shares his opinion: “It is totally different how the horses react to the Stadium here in Aachen. Some love being able to really canter round here. Whereas it intimidates others. And in my experience that doesn’t change much later on.” He added that Call me Eva definitely belongs to the category of horses who love such grass arenas. Weishaupt is convinced: This is going to be a horse for the big tour!

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