Rolex Grand Prix goes to Marcus Ehning: “That is something that is eternal!”

Marcus Ehning’s performance today in the Rolex Grand…

Marcus Ehning’s performance today in the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHIO Aachen 2018 wasn’t just the ride to victory. It was a demonstration of wonderful show jumping, fantastic advertising for the equestrian sport and also to an extent due to the support of the “best crowd in the world” as Ehning described the Aachen spectators.

Eleven of the 40 pairs on the starting list for the Rolex Grand Prix 2018 were German. Three of them made it into the second round: the Rolex Grand Prix winning pair from 2016, Philipp Weishaupt and L.B. Convall; as well as the Nations Cup heroes Marcus Ehning with Pret a Tout and Maurice Tebbel with Chacco’s Son. Marcus Ehning had to go first and delivered an exemplary stylistic clear round. Philipp Weishaupt and Convall had an annoying mistake in the first third of the course. Maurice Tebbel with Chacco’s Son had a perfect round and it looked like they were going to be the sixth pair to qualify for the jump-off. But unfortunately Tebbel made the wrong decision at the last obstacle, is how the national coach, Otto Becker, analysed the situation afterwards. His stallion came to close to the fence and the pole fell. The Rolex dream was over.

The jump-off

That meant there were only five left in the jump-off. Besides Ehning, whose last victory in the Grand Prix of Aachen was twelve years ago, the Irish rider Darragh Kenny with Babalou; the Brazilian show-jumper Pedro Veniss with Quabri de L’Isle; the Swiss Olympic gold medallist Steve Guerdat with Bianca and the pair that came second last year Luciana Diniz with Fit For Fun. Darragh Kenny’s Oldenburg-bred Balou du Rouet daughter, Babalou, had saved her rider in the double combination in the second round when he misjudged the distance and the mare proved that she had got extremely swift legs and managed to save herself over the fences. But in the jump-off her strength seemed to ebb: 12 faults.
Pedro Veniss and Quabri de L’Isle travelled to the CHIO Aachen 2017 as the contenders for the Rolex Grand Slam after their victory in the Rolex Major in Geneva in 2016. However, they weren’t able to compete in the Grand Prix, because the stallion sustained an injury during the show. Now they were actually in the jump-off and had the chance to take up the challenge of the Grand Slam again. And indeed, they jumped clear in a time of 41.62 seconds. A time that could be beaten, couldn’t it? Around one minute later Marcus Ehning and Pret a Tout answered that question.
The pair were greeted by emphatic, rhythmic applause from the crowd. This might have helped towards the subsequent victory, because as Marcus Ehning revealed later, Pret a Tout loves the attention: “When he enters the ring and hears the crowd it gives him additional motivation.” It certainly worked. Ehning and the 15-year-old Selle Français gelding Pret a Tout cruised over the jump-off course with ease – in Ehning style so to say: Not exciteement, no pulling, no tugging, simply a fast gallop along the shortest routes. The clock stopped at 38.34 seconds. But the competition still wasn’t decided.
After all, the Olympic gold medallist, Steve Guerdat, always rides to win. And his Swedish-bred Balou du Rouet daughter Bianca (Balou du Rouet may have even more mares to cover next season) is a fast horse. However, at the third oxer the mare got a pole between her legs and this took away a bit of her confidence over the remaining obstacles. Two more poles fell.
Then it was the turn of Luciana Diniz and Fit For Fun. It is part of the pair’s ritual that they enter the ring in walk on a long rein. A last moment of quiet and concentration. They had already finished second last year. This time they wanted to take the victory. Luciana Diniz: “I saw Marcus ride and decided to follow the same plan.” It worked to an extent. Diniz and her small jumping wonder rode clear, but with the clock stopping at 40.96 seconds they weren’t able to match Pret a Tout’s time. Diniz took it bravely: “I am very happy about finishing second. And it gives me motivation to keep trying.”

A victory for eternity

And Marcus Ehning? He now has something to tell his grandchildren: “That is something that is eternal!” He once again proved that he is a true horseman: “First of all I have to thank my horse. He has an incredibly good nature and knows his job!” Normally, the successful athlete then thanks the sponsor, because thanks to them Marcus Ehning is taking 330,000 Euros home with him. He did actually do that, but admitted: “I am in two minds here. On the one hand I am very grateful to Rolex that they make this fantastic competition possible. On the other hand, the poles on the Rolex obstacles fall down far too easily!” The next time he can try his luck at the green/yellow obstacles will be at the end of September in Spruce Meadows when he is to compete as the new contender for the Rolex Grand Slam. He hadn’t actually planned to compete in Calgary, so he will have to replan things. But there’s time for that later. Today he is first going to enjoy this victory after a CHIO Aachen with 362,000 spectators in total and fantastic sport.
There was one person among the 40,000 people, who were delighted at Marcus Ehning’s victory today, who particularly cheered him on: The national coach, Otto Becker. “I am so happy for Marcus! He is incredibly important for the team and was a key member on Thursday,” he said referring to the victory in the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup (the third in a row, each time with Marcus Ehning and Pret a Tout on the team). “He also manages the horses brilliantly!”
Some people were allegedly talking about a crisis on the German jumping sport scene prior to Aachen. Otto Becker: “The crisis can continue!” For instance, in Spruce Meadows at the next Rolex Major.

Quotes Rolex Grand Prix

Marcus Ehning (GER) “Pret a Tout has an…

Marcus Ehning (GER)

“Pret a Tout has an incredibly good nature. He knows his job, he recognises the heights and he really made it easy for me today. For him it is an additional motivation when he enters this huge stadium and the crowd cheers him on. There is no better crowd than here in Aachen!”

“The jump-off went really well for me. But I have to get two things off my chest: I am very grateful that Rolex sponsors this fantastic prize for us riders. However, the Rolex fences are terrible for us riders (grins).”

“Today was our day. I already had a great first round, a fantastic second round and a jump-off that suited me down to the ground. The first round was definitely more difficult than the second, but there were a lot of obstacles in both. The competition was made for me today! I was the most nervous watching Luciana’s ride in the jump-off. But my horse is in super shape! I’d also already sensed that in the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup.”

“I will have to take some time to think about whether to compete in Calgary, because I had already set my priority on the World Equestrian Games in Tryon before winning the class today. Now it is a new situation. I won’t be making that decision this evening though.”

Luciana Diniz (POR)

“Fit for Fun was very good and it was fantastic to be here in Aachen and to take part in the Rolex Grand Prix. I watched Marcus‘ ride in the jump-off and I took him as the role model and wanted to do it even better, but I didn’t have the same flow. It only sufficed to take second place. I have come second in the Rolex Grand Prix three times now. Perhaps I can do even better next time and actually win (grins).”

Pedro Veniss (BRA)

“It went very well for us today. It was a dream come true for me to ride in Aachen here. Because it is the first time that I have competed here. So I am of course very, very happy with my result today!”


Plenty of guests from business and political circles

Before the best equestrian sport athletes in the…

Before the best equestrian sport athletes in the world say “goodbye” during the traditional “Farewell to the Nations” ceremony to the World Equestrian Festival, CHIO Aachen, and its unique audience today, celebrities from business and political circles visited the traditional showgrounds again. The Ministry of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen, the Chairman of Evonik Christian Kullmann, SAP Executive Board member Bernd Leukert, the Chairman of the Deutsche Bank AG, Christian Sewing, the former Federal Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg with his wife Stephanie, DOSB President Alfons Hörmann and also the NRW Minister President Armin Laschet enjoyed the atmosphere. “It is a highlight for us every year to come to Aachen, a real family outing,” commented Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

CHIO Aachen: Margie Goldstein-Engle wins the SAP Prize, Michael Kölz in second place

The bronze medal winner at the German Show…

The bronze medal winner at the German Show Jumping Championships 2018, Michael Kölz, competed in Aachen for the first time this year and had stated that he “didn’t want to put in a bad performance”. “He certainly didn’t do that – even if the speedy rider from the USA, Margie Goldstein-Engle, managed to outpace him in the SAP Price.


Margie Goldstein-Engle had saddled the nine-year-old Rhineland-bred Dicas, whom she has had for around a year, for the 1.45-metre jumping competition against the clock. The gelding has already been placed many times in competitions at this level, but has never competed at the CHIO Aachen before. But he evidently likes the Soers: He achieved a clear round in the fastest time of 65.97 seconds, which meant the victory.


Michael Kölz, the German Championship bronze medallist, who fulfilled a long-standing childhood dream competing here at the Soers, came second with the Moritzburg State Stud stallion FST Dipylon by Dinglinger (68.10). It wasn’t the only rosette he picked up this weekend either. He came third in the Opening Jumping with Dipylon and tenth in the Two-Phase Jumping Competition on Wednesday.


The Italian rider Lorenzo de Luca secured himself third place in the SAP Prize with Limestone Grey after finishing clear in a time of 69.84.

CHIO Aachen: Ijsbrand Chardon winner across the board at the CHIO 2018

The Dutch four-in-hand driver, Ijsbrand Chardon’s first victory…

The Dutch four-in-hand driver, Ijsbrand Chardon’s first victory at the CHIO Aachen was 31 years ago, the last victory ten years ago. His time had come again this year. Chardon not only won the individual classification in the Prize of the Richard Talbot Family, but also the obstacle driving competition, the Prize of the Heitkamp & Thumann Group, as well as the Nations Cup team classification together with his son Bram and Koos de Ronde.


Ijsbrand Chardon won’t forget this CHIO Aachen in a hurry. With today’s only clear round in the obstacle driving competition, the Prize of the Heitkamp & Thumann Group, Chardon perfected his victory in the overall classification of the CAIO. The obstacle driving competition was very tricky. Chardon not only demonstrated his driving skills by reaching the finish line in a time of 105.46, but also the fact that he has nerves of steel. Georg von Stein (109.19) came second in this competition, followed by the Belgian driver Edouard Simonet (110.04). The fourth and fifth places of the two German riders, Mareike Harm and Anna Sandmann, were also noteworth. The latter, the daughter of Christoph Sandmann, one of Germany’s top drivers, is pretty new to the four-in-hand driving sport and after receiving a wild card to compete in Aachen from the organisers put in an excellent performance.


Prize of the Richard Talbot Family


Apropos newcomers – a further one in Aachen is Ijsbrand Chardon’s son Bram. The 25-year-old has already won four-in-hand driving competitions but had never competed in Aachen before and had stated in the run-up to the show that he wanted to come under the top ten. “But we also have the potential to make it under the top five,” the Dutch driver stated before today’s final. Indeed, he ultimately came third in the individual classification on a total score of 165.51 minus points behind his father in first place (157.87) and the Australian driver Boyd Exell (158.82). Exell could even allow himself to pick up four faults in the concluding obstacle driving class and still retain the overall victory, but in fact two balls fell, so he had to make do with second place.


Exell didn’t compete in the winning round of the Prize of Heitkamp & Thumann Group. He stepped down voluntarily because his broken ankle was causing him some pain: “I wouldn’t have thought it, but I am tired! One needs one’s leg more than one imagines…!”


Eleventh Nations Cup victory in succession


The Dutch team more or less hold the patent for the victory in the Nations Cup in Aachen: It was their eleventh victory in a row. The Oranje drivers finished on a total score of 319.8 minus points (Ijsbrand Chardon, Bram Chardon, Koos de Ronde) and left the German team (Michael Brauchle, Mareike Harm, Georg von Stein) trailing behind on a score of 341.26 minus points. Third place went to the Belgian team (Dries Degrieck, Glenn Geerts, Edouard Simonet/353.95 minus points.

CHIO Aachen: Isabell Werth’s invitation to dance in the Deutsche Bank Prize

The spectators clapped in rhythm, the horse owner,…

The spectators clapped in rhythm, the horse owner, Madeleine Winter-Schulze, wiped a stolen tear from her eye and Isabell Werth clenched her fist in triumph. She celebrated an amazing freestyle routine with Emilio in the Grand Finale of the CHIO Aachen 2018 in the Deutsche Bank Prize.


After today’s freestyle, Isabell Werth definitely goes down in CHIO history as the Queen of the Deutsche Bank Stadium. Today’s triumph is the twelfth in her career in the Deutsche Bank Prize, Emilio the fourth horse that she had steered to victory in Aachen. Werth left the dressage arena with the 12-year-old Westphalian-bred Ehrenpreis son on a personal best score of 87.625 percent. Second place went to the US American rider, Kasey Perry-Glass with her Danish-bred Goerklintgaards Dublet by Diamond Hit on a score of 85.205, followed by her fellow countrywoman, Laura Graves with Verdades by Florett As (85.085).

After a mistake that cost valuable points, the Danish rider Cathrine Dufour ranked fourth with Cassidy (84.835). Helen Langehanenberg delivered the second best German result with Damsey (5th/82.575). Dorothee Schneider and Sammy Davis. Jr, finished seventh (81.295). Sixth place was claimed by the Danish rider Daniel Bachmann Andersen with Blue Hors Zack, who was the only rider in the freestyle test to achieve a score of 10 for the degree of difficulty – which makes up one tenth of the overall score (82.195).


Names, scores and nationalities confirm Isabell Werth’s conclusion of the days at the Soers: “That was an exciting week for us all!” A week with victories and defeats for favourites, surprising victories and comebacks, which began with a below average performance in the Grand Prix for Werth, continued with a triumph in the Spéciale and climaxed with the best ever freestyle routine with Emilio in their career. Emilio seemed to gain confidence and courage from movement to movement and danced in harmony to music by Beethoven, Puccini and Verdi, which in spite of it being 30 degrees in the shade caused a goose bump shiver to crawl down one’s spine. As the bay horse passaged down the final centre line, the crowd started clapping to the music, Isabell Werth lifted one hand to greet and rode the last few metres of the salute one-handed. She had hardly come to a halt before thunderous applause broke out. The horse owner Madeleine Winter-Schulze wiped a tear from her eye and Isabell Werth could hardly praise Emilio enough. What a ride. So light, so harmonious, that’s what dressage is about!


Up until now Laura Graves was seen to be Werth’s most serious rival. And indeed the rider from the USA won the Grand Prix with Verdades. However, in the Spéciale, which she managed to beat Werth in last year, her horse spooked at a camera and totally lost the thread. Today, the KWPN-gelding was back to his usual top form. But that last touch of charisma lacked today that decides between victory and defeat.


In any case, Graves‘ training colleague, Kasey Perry-Glass – both train with the former Olympic participant  Debbie McDonald – succeeded in beating the rider, who has already notched up a fourth place at the Olympic Games, for the first time ever, as well as all other German riders apart from Werth. That is definitely a statement too!

Kasey Perry-Glass competed in Europe for the first time in 2016 and caused a stir with her elegant dark bay horse. However, the performances of the pair remained under expectations in 2017, here in Aachen too. Afterwards the rider gave her sports partner a break. “He needed it and so did I. We changed the training around, didn’t drill the movements as much and made the training more diversified. And it paid off because he came back stronger.” Indeed – it was a joy to watch the two of them celebrate their freestyle to the film music from “Lord of the Rings.” In fact, the entire competition was a joy to watch. A worthy finale to the dressage competitions at the World Equestrian Festival!

Quotes Deutsche Bank Prize

Isabelle Werth (GER) “I am so happy with…

Isabelle Werth (GER)

“I am so happy with Emilio. We were able to improve day by day here in Aachen. Today he was back to his top form. In my opinion that was our best Grand Prix so far. The atmosphere here in this stadium with the fantastic crowd is simply gigantic. Our ride fitted in so well with the music. The feeling when the crowd cheered and clapped when I rode the last centre line was simply indescribable. Simply a fantastic day! And all of that after this extremely exciting week with its ups and downs. Nobody knew what was going to happen the next day, whether a rider would have a good day or a bad day. It really was a thrilling dressage week. Even the weather played along this week!”

“The CHIO Aachen really is an exceptional show. Everyone knows that I love Aachen! Aachen is the best show in the world alongside Olympic Games and Championships. The whole atmosphere, this combination between sporting event and a folk festival is something totally special.”

Kasey Perry-Glass (USA)

“I have always believed in my horse. It has been a long journey. 2016 was our first Grand-Prix year and we both came up very fast. Somehow that became too much. 2017 was a learning curve for us. Then, I gave him a break and I needed a break too. That paid off because he has come back stronger. And we put in a great performance today in Aachen. We were well attuned to each other and my horse was extremely eager to demonstrate his skills. I am simply delighted with this result and am happy to be up here with these guys.”

Laura Graves (USA)

“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to demonstrate our top performance yesterday and made a few mistakes that are very untypical for us. That was a shame, but that is our sport – especially when one is competing against so many other top international riders. One never knows in advance who is going to head the ranks in the end. That is the challenge in our sport to be able to call up top performances at the right moment in time. Isabell is right it really was a very exciting and crazy dressage week in Aachen (laughs). My horse was still a bit nervous like yesterday. I have to give him a bit more time from show to show to get used to this stadium atmosphere.”

Spectators are recovering well

After the fall of the rider Oliver Townend…

After the fall of the rider Oliver Townend during the cross-country competition on Saturday, his horse ended up in the spectator area. Two of the visitors were injured and were taken to the RWTH Aachen University Hospital. One of the spectators has in the meantime already left the clinic, the other is recovering well under the circumstances and the organisers of the event have already been able to communicate with him/her.

CHIO Aachen: Personal record and a champagne shower in the LUMILEDS Prize

Silence in the dressage arena? Not in Aachen….

Silence in the dressage arena? Not in Aachen. Okay, not always. There was definitely a fantastic atmosphere this evening during the LUMILEDS Prize, the Grand Prix Freestyle of the CDI4* Tour, when Shelly Francis was presented with the golden rosette and Ingrid Klimke let Franziskus dance to the sounds of DJ Ötzi!


“That was the best freestyle test we have ever performed!” the US American rider Shelly Francis blurted out after riding to victory with Danilo on a score of 79.305 percent. “It was great fun! It was fantastic! I was so happy that I cried,” she raved. “Brave Junge,” she praised her horse with an unmistakable American accent. Hey, German? “Well, it is a German horse!” To be precise an Oldenburger. “It wasn’t my best Grand Prix. Which is why I was simply overjoyed that he performed so well today, regardless of the result.” Indeed, it sufficed to take the victory. To top everything she was given a champagne shower by Chef d’Equipe, Robert Dover, after the prize-giving ceremony.


Corks were popped by the Klimke family too after Ingrid Klimke and Franziskus had, according to own accounts, performed the best freestyle of their joint career, which was rewarded by the judges with 78.390 percent and 2nd place. “He was better than ever,” the overjoyed master of riding commented when she rode out of the stadium to the thunderous applause of the crowd. “He loves it when the crowd cheer and clap!” So, it certainly wasn’t quiet in the arena tonight. Franziskus flourishes when the spotlight is turned on and the curtain goes up! It moved his owner, the stallion keeper, Wilhelm Holkenbrink, to tears because he had always dreamed of seeing one of his horses perform  in Aachen and now he even has one that earned a standing ovation in the Deutsche Bank Stadium.


The US riders had a second reason to celebrate tonight, because Olivia Lagoy-Weltz finished third with her Danish horse, Lonoir, on a score of 77.435 percent.

Ingrid Klimke claims her first Aachen victory in the Wotax Prize with Bluetooth

The master of riding, Ingrid Klimke, received the…

The master of riding, Ingrid Klimke, received the gold rosette for her victory in the Intermédiaire I, the WOTAX Prize 2018 in a rather unusual outfit for the Deutsche Bank Stadium.


The Deutsche Bank Stadium is indeed familiar with eventing riders and horses. But it is definitely the first time that a rider took part in the prize-giving ceremony of a dressage competition donning a safety vest, a jumping saddle and short stirrups. But because the Eventing Olympic gold medallist, Klimke, was to take part in the Lavazza Cup with her Trakehner Parmenides straight afterwards, the judges and sponsors had to congratulate him in place of his stable mate, Bluetooth. And there was the added bonus that during the lap of honour he was able to get used to the atmosphere that was awaiting him in the Main Stadium a few minutes later.


Ingrid Klimke hadn’t actually intended to ride to win in the Intermédiaire I today. “Bluetooth was still very distracted in the Prix St. Georges on Wednesday, and made some big mistakes. So I was planning on just steering him through without any tension today.” The judges obviously liked what they say. The Oldenburg-bred horse that his rider describes as a bit of a baby, very shy and that he needs a little bit longer to be able cope with his amazing movements, was awarded a score of 72.676 percent. She has only been riding him for a few months, but can already say: “He is totally lovable and incredibly eager. He just has to work at his self-confidence a bit more.”


Winning in Aachen should enable him to hold his head up high in any dressage arena in the world. Today he relegated the US American rider, Steffen Peters into second place with Donavan (72.176). Stefanie Wolf came third on a score of 71.441 percent with former World Championships of the Young Dressage Horses finalist, Saphira Royal.