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!”


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: Fast, faster, Lavazza

Six teams comprising of one world-class show-jumper, eventer…

Six teams comprising of one world-class show-jumper, eventer and four-in-hand driving team apiece – are the protagonists that compete against each other in the Lavazza Cup. The winners in 2018 were a German/French trio with an Olympic gold medallist in their midst.


Michael Jung got the ball rolling with Chocolat, he passed over the baton to Denis Nielsen with Taquadriga and once he had crossed the finish line of the show jumping course, Jung took to his legs and jumped onto the carriage of the French driver, Benjamin Aillaud, who let his four horse power machine gallop at full pace across the ring. With a total time of 147.35 seconds Team Six took over the lead from Team One, comprising of Ingrid Klimke with Parmenides who sped over the natural obstacles, the Swiss show-jumper Alain Jufer with Casinjo Ex Z and his fellow countryman, Jerome Voutaz, who steered his carriage through the Soers. Their end result: 152.67 seconds. Third place went to the eventer Andreas Ostholt with Pennsylvania, the show-jumper Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA) with Herco van het Overlede Goed and the four-in-hand driver Chester Weber (USA).

CHIO Aachen: Double victory for the Stephex Stables in the Sparkassen-Youngsters-Cup Final

In the first competition of the Sparkassen-Youngsters-Cup 2018,…

In the first competition of the Sparkassen-Youngsters-Cup 2018, Daniel Deußer with Killer Queen was a nose ahead of his work and stable colleague from Stephex Stables, Lorenzo de Luca (ITA), the Italian show-jumper came second with Evita van’t Zoggehof. In the Final, Luca turned the tables round.


Eleven pairs reached the jump-off in the Sparkassen-Youngsters-Cup, ten of them jumped clear in this round too. Amid a full house, the best riders in the world delivered a thrilling final till the last minute with the crème de la crème of aspiring four-legged youngsters. The Italian rider Lorenzo de Luca and the eight-year-old Belgian Sporting Horse mare, Evita van’t Zoggehof by Golden Hawk reached the finish line in a time 39.21 seconds, which seemed to be an unbeatable result. But the fiercest rival from his own yard, Daniel Deußer was still to go with the BWP-bred mare, Killer Queen. And they really gave their best! But in the end it didn’t suffice: 39.77 seconds, which meant second place. After de Luca, two further pairs succeeded in cracking the magic 40-second mark in the jump-off: Christian Ahlmann with Cornwall and Martin Fuchs (SUI) with Karel VDB. But they couldn’t quite catch de Luca either. Ahlmann came third with the Westphalian-bred grey stallion in a time of 39.90, Fuchs finished fourth (39.97).


Lorenzo de Luca reported later that it had been a very difficult course for the young horses. But that it also proved the quality of the young horses in the way they coped with a water ditch and the huge arena. Lorenzo de Luca has been riding Evita since the beginning of 2018 and he thinks very highly of her. He definitely wants to keep her. “Today’s victory was especially nice for everyone involved because the breeder saw the mare in action for the first time.”


Talking about breeders – both Evita and her stable mate, Killer Queen, come from a good line. Evita’s grand dam, the Selle Français mare, Fragrance de Chalus by Jalisco, for instance also produced the stallion Mylord Carthago, who is also well-known in Aachen (Pénélope Leprevost/FRA) as well diverse other international sporting horses and graded stallions. Killer Queen’s dam, Derly Chin de Muze, competed at the Olympic Games in London with the Canadian show-jumper, Eric Lamaze, in 2012. And not only these two horses have famous ancestors. Christian Ahlmann’s stallion, Cornwall, is a son of Marcus Ehning’s Championship horse, Cornado NRW.

Richard Vogel with a master plan to his childhood dream in the U25 Jumping Trophy

Obviously, it is the dream of almost every…

Obviously, it is the dream of almost every horse-fan to ride in Aachen one day. But only very few pursue their dream as ambitiously as Richard Vogel, who won the Final of Germany’s U25 Jumping Trophy of the German Top Level Competition Sport Foundation in the Prize of the Müter Family today.


The trials for Germany’s most talented under 25-year-old show-jumpers were staged In Mannheim, Wiesbaden and Balve. The best of them were allowed to compete at the CHIO Aachen this weekend. The starter list includes names that have already proven themselves in top international sport, such as Laura Klaphake and Maurice Tebbel for instance, who both rode for the winning team in the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup on Thursday evening.


But not even they had a chance against the 21-year-old Richard Vogel today with the ten-year-old Hanoverian-bred Solitaer. The professional rider from Ludger Beerbaum’s stable sped across the jump-off course with his grey horse in an unbeatable time of 41.25 seconds and left the two European Championship team silver medallists of the Young Riders, Cedric Wolf with Cho Chang J (who also claimed silver in the individual classification of the European Championships) and Justine Tebbel with Light Star, trailing behind him.


Richard Vogel’s success was anything else but coincidental. “I have prepared for this jumping competition all season with Solitaer. Each time I rode him, I had Aachen in mind,” the rider who comes from Baden-Württemberg stated. “It was a new experience for me to go to shows with the aim of preparing for a certain goal rather than just to win – that is one of many things I have learnt from Ludger Beerbaum.”

He already dreamt about riding in Aachen one day as a small child. His deceased mother came from a horse-loving family. He rode at his first German Championships on a horse that descended from the breeding stock of his grandfather. Richard’s father supports his passion, but didn’t actually ride himself. However, Richard’s uncle does and he knows Philipp Weishaupt, so he was able to put his nephew into contact with the Beerbaum Stables. Richard introduced himself and was able to stay. At the time, he had already completed his training as a professional rider. Before that he left school a year before taking his A’ Levels – to the distain of his family. “In that respect I am quite stubborn. I simply knew that this is what I want to do!”


Now Richard has achieved his goal for the year. “So I can go back to normal everyday life now. It was down to the generosity of my boss, Ludger Beerbaum that I was able to compete here. At a show for four days with just one horse – that is like being on vacation.” It is not just any old horse either, Solitaer was bred by Dietrich Schulze, the deceased husband of Ludger Beerbaum’s long-standing sponsor, Madeleine Winter-Schulze. Richard: “He was definitely keeping his fingers crossed for me up above.” It certainly helped!


They were the title defenders – but would…

They were the title defenders – but would the German show-jumpers be able to repeat their victory in the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup at the CHIO Aachen? After the results of the Nations Cups at the start of the year there were justified doubts. But three aspiring young German show jumping talents and an old hand proved all of the gloomy predictions wrong.
Laura Klaphake, Simone Blum, Maurice Tebbel and Marcus Ehning let the midsummer night’s dream come true at the Soers. With just four faults after both rounds, they rode to victory ahead of the team from Ireland (6 faults) and the Netherlands (9). And how they won! Laura Klaphake had a double clear round with her mare, Catch Me If You Can, which was moreover a role model for stylish jumping. It was the Aachen premiere in the Nations Cup for both her and Simone Blum with Alice. The latter picked up four faults in the first round, but jumped clear in the second round.

Maurice Tebbel made his debut premiere in the Aachen Nations Cup with Chacco’s Son in 2017 – and thus celebrated his second triumph at the Soers after a super clear round number one and four faults in the second round, which he explained came about because his otherwise extremely careful stallion slipped slightly while taking off and didn’t have enough grip to push himself away from the ground strongly enough.

Marcus Ehning joked in the Press Conference that he is so old that he couldn’t even remember how many times he has ridden for Germany in Aachen. But one thing is for sure, the two previous times the victory in the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup went to Germany. And today his was the ride that decided the victory.

The ride to victory

As the most experienced rider, Ehning played a key role for the team with his French chestnut, Pret a Tout. That is why the national coach, Otto Becker, let him ride last, since the final rider often decides between victory and defeat. That was indeed the case today. When Ehning entered the ring, Germany was lying in first place with a lead of one point. If he stayed clear, the team’s victory was safe. On the Riders’ Stand Simone Blum and Laura Klaphake clutched each other closely and trembled at every obstacle. In the first round Ehning and his Hiram Chambertin son picked up four faults. Would he jump clear this time? 40,000 spectators were as quiet as mice. He jumped one obstacle after the other clear. But a Nations Cup is terribly long! After Ehning had left the triple combination behind him and steered towards the final obstacle, the first voices could be heard. “Shush!” came from all sides. Concentration! After all the pole could even fall at the last fence! But Pret a Tout knows his job. He also mastered the last jump with no problems at all. A cry went out all over the Soers. Deafening applause, German flags, great joy! Mission accomplished!

Cool youngsters

As he walked over to the warm-up area, the national coach Otto Becker blurted out: “Super troop!!! How they stick together, how they fight – simply fantastic! And how the youngsters performed here – immensely cool!” The German jumping sport has reached a new phase. Experienced experts are not at hand right now, but instead we can rely on the strength of the youth. The season got off to a “halting start”, Otto Becker admitted. Then we came second at the CHIO in Rotterdam, where Laura Klaphake – who has been a member of the European Young Riders Academy initiated by Rolex for three years and thus also trains regularly with Franke Sloothaak – and Catch Me If You Can delivered the best team performance with two double clears. That was anything but a one-day wonder today. Does she have a recipe for success? “I give my horse a kiss before entering the ring!” Who knows whether that’s what does the trick or whether the mare is simply “in the best form of her life”(Laura Klaphake), but one thing is certain: That is what winners look like! Klaphake’s conclusion after her first Nations Cup in Aachen: “A dream has come true, First of all, because I was actually able to ride in the team, secondly because we won.”

Simone Blum and Alice, who only had one show to prepare for Aachen, because they had to have a time out for a few weeks in the spring, also made an outstanding impression. A totally overwhelmed Simone Blum commented: “I simply can’t believe it. It was a fantastic day, a fantastic team and I am proud of us all.” And Marcus Ehning, who has competed so often here at the Soers that he can no longer remember how many times, emphasised: “Once you have won here once, you want to win every year! Indeed, we have succeeded in doing so for the last three years. So we are simply happy! And then taking a sideward glance over to his team colleagues, the Olympic gold medallist praised the team: “The young riders performed superbly.”

This victory was dedicated to Hans Günter Winkler who passed away earlier this month. All four riders wore a black armband in remembrance of the show jumping legend. “HGW” would no doubt have enjoyed this evening at the Soers.


The first national anthem that was played at…

The first national anthem that was played at the CHIO Aachen today, was the German anthem. It was played for Philipp Weishaupt, who won the VBR Prize with a big lead, a two-phase jumping competition over 1.55 metre obstacles.

“That course was really high today,” Philipp Weishaupt summed up after the prize-giving ceremony for the VBR Prize. No problem for his 12-year-old Holstein-bred Lesson Peak. The Lord Z son was extremely fast too: He beat the rest of the field by almost two seconds. Weishaupt crossed the finish line in 35.08 seconds. Second place went to the Belgian rider, Yves Vanderhasselt with Hetman Of Colors, who also jumped clear in a time of 36.97 seconds, followed by Laura Kraut (USA) with Zeremonie (0/38.99).


In a two-phase competition, the jump-off is basically a continuation of the first round in one course. If a pair remains clear over the first part of the course, he simply carries on jumping the rest of the obstacles. The second half of the course is then ridden against the clock. The course itself was “almost like a standard course,” commented Weishaupt. But long, consisting of 14 obstacles. That was very strenuous in the heat! That is the advantage if one has a horse that is a little more temperamental by nature – like Weishaupt’s Lesson Peak: “In his case it is a fine line between genius and insanity,” his rider explained. The two of them have only been a pair for a few weeks. Weishaupt took over the gelding from a Canadian pupil of his employer Ludger Beerbaum and has already celebrated victories with him, among others at the CHIO Rotterdam. “But winning at home is always something different,” the two-time Rolex Major winner added, “and here in Aachen is always very special, regardless of which competition it is!”


…and it was to win. Shane Sweetnam is…

…and it was to win. Shane Sweetnam is Irish after all. And – according to him – the Irish love hunting competitions over ditches and banks like the Prize of the Sparkasse.
His plan came off. Shane Sweetnam was pretty confident today. The reason for his optimism has four legs and is called Cyklon: “He is 17 years old and has already won plenty of classes. He also came second in the Derby in Falsterbo. He has experience over natural fences and can be really fast.” That was evident today: The stallion and his rider galloped to victory in a time of 64.89 seconds.


Second place went to the British rider, Harry Charles, the 19-year-old recently crowned European Champion of the Young Riders and a member of the European Young Riders Academy sponsored by Rolex. He rode the KWPN stallion, Controe by Wender R and reached the finish line in 65.29 seconds. Hans-Dieter Dreher was delighted to take third place with the Selle Français gelding, Tiopepe des Champs for whom the clock stopped at 67.09 seconds.