André Thieme wins the Rolex Grand Prix 2024

07.07.2024 19:41

What a Rolex Grand Prix, what a finale…

What a Rolex Grand Prix, what a finale for the CHIO Aachen 2024! André Thieme hadn’t actually qualified to compete in the highlight of the weekend. But on Saturday evening he found out that he had moved up onto the starter list. Then, on Sunday afternoon he fulfilled a lifetime dream with his exceptional horse, Chakaria.

It was a stony road. Thieme had explained that the Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup had been disappointing for him. His horse had been in top form, but unfortunately she picked up four faults in both rounds. In one fell swoop two dreams shattered: taking part in the Rolex Grand Prix, because he didn’t qualify and participating at the Olympic Games in Paris. He has meanwhile accepted the fact that he is number five for the Olympics. Regarding the other dream – Thieme was able to participate in the highlight of the week after two riders withdrew. And since the pressure was off for the Olympics selection, he felt much more relaxed again, Thieme added – “the odd beer or two had also helped” – and he also quoted his wife: She had said: “So, go out and earn us money!‘“ As a good husband, who “loves Chakaria as much as his wife, but not more than her”, that is exactly what he did.

After two rounds, only four contenders for the 500,000 euro prize money and victory in the Rolex Grand Prix remained. McLain Ward from the USA was the first to go in the jump-off. Ward had reported on the day before that he hasn’t had Ilex for very long, but that he is a “big Jumper”. The eleven-year- old KWPN gelding by Baltic VDL demonstrated that impressively and produced a further clear round. The time did however seem beatable: 41.02 seconds.

Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei were faster, but they collected four faults, which ultimately meant fourth place for him. Then, Thieme and Chakaria entered the ring. The mare hadn’t looked like she was going to knock a rail in the first two rounds. And she also jumped immaculately in the jump-off: Clear in 39.77 seconds, faster than Ward, the new leaders. It obviously hadn’t felt like it: “After the combination I thought I am behind McLain and I only have these two last jumps left, so I’ll have to go for it. So I turned short before the oxer really aggressively and it worked out perfect. I don’t know how many strides I took to the last, I thought I’d never get there, but somehow I did. It was the last two jumps and her action that clinched the victory.“  Steve Guerdat evidently had contributed to Thieme’s strategy: “I must say thanks to Steve Guerdat. He told me your horse is jumping so fantastic today you can go for it. But ultimately Thieme had not dared to risk putting one less stride in between the two distances.

The winners of the Rolex Grand Prix in Geneva, Richard Vogel and United Touch S, were last to go in the jump-off. The spectators chanted Vogel’s name, he had won over the hearts of the crowd this week with his many victories. United Touch spread his wings and flew through the Soers. As quick as lightning and clear up until the last fence. He was half way over the green and yellow Rolex vertical and then he brushed the pole slightly with his back hoof and it fell. Vogel had already raised his fist in triumph before he registered what had happened. His end result was third place with the victory going to André Thieme with Chakaria, ahead of McLain Ward and Ilex.

Thieme: “I have had so many emotional moments with Chakaria before. But it is definitely different here in Aachen – two years ago for example I was part of the team that won the Nations Cup here and I had to go clear. But, of course, the Grand Prix in Aachen is every rider’s lifetime dream, most riders never even get close to it. If I was two years older, I’d say I’m done now.“ But luckily he is not and after this victory his personal Rolex journey gets underway. Because he is now the next contender for the Rolex Grand Slam.

Mclain Ward joked: “This morning I thought if I was ahead of Richie it would be good enough and now I have come second again.” He knew where he had lost the time: “In hindsight I could have easily done eight strides to the last instead of nine.” He was nevertheless happy with his result: “My horse jumped even better in the second round than in the first. Andre took a great risk and it paid off. It was great sport!“

Richard Vogel was the same opinion and he took the opportunity to thank his entire time. “It is more their success than mine. It was the week of my life. I am not sure if I will be able to repeat that here in Aachen again.” Regarding today’s class he commented: “I went through my plan for the jump-off with McLain. Thought I could give a little breather before the last. The time was good enough. Then my horse jumped over the fence at the front but not at the back. I was sure luck was on my side, but it wasn’t.“ Nevertheless, “It has been fantastic this week and I am happy with the horse, who jumped three incredible rounds.” The fact that the crowd were calling his name was the icing on the cake: “Aachen is the best show in the world. To be here and know the crowd is behind you, gives you a fresh wind. It is a fantastic feeling!”

CHIO Aachen Head of Sport, Birgit Rosenberg, first of all thanked the sponsor Rolex for their meanwhile 25-year partnership. Her summary of the CHIO Aachen 2024: “We have experienced amazing, breath-taking sport this week. As I said after the dressage we can only prepare the stage and offer good conditions to compete. But you all paid us back with super performances and great sport all week. It was a great crowd, fantastic atmosphere, packed stadiums, absolute record attendance of 370,000 spectators. The equestrian sport is very alive here in Aachen.“

Bram Chardon wins Prize of Event Rent GmbH, the Netherlands the Böhringer Ingelheim Nations’ Cup

07.07.2024 15:18

The final day of the four-in-hand driving, the…

The final day of the four-in-hand driving, the Prize of Event Rent GmbH, offered material for a Greek tragedy with all it entails. The German team were the tragic heroes in the Boehringer Ingelheim Nations’ Cup.

Bram Chardon (NED) remained superior in the third competition of the four-in-hand drivers, the obstacle driving test, the Prize of Event Rent GmbH, and triumphed ahead of Dries Degrieck (BEL) and Boyd Exell (AUS). Exell clinched his twelfth (!) victory in the Prize of Family Richard Talbot, the individual classification of the four-in-hand drivers, on an overall score of 146.27 minus points. The positive thing from a German point of view: Mareike Harm came second (167.64) and Georg von Stein third (167.97).

But that was the end of the good news for the German drivers. The national coach, Karl-Heinz Geiger, made no bones about it when he said “I am frustrated!”, referring to his team’s performance in the Boehringer Ingelheim Nations’ Cup. Not because they came second and the Dutch were able to add a further triumph to their series of victories at the Soers that is unbroken since 2007. That wasn’t the problem. But Germany had never got that close to snatching up the victory ever before. Mareike Harm, Michael Brauchle and Georg von Stein already headed the field after the dressage. They put in magnificent performances in the Marathon and had such a clear lead at the start of the cone driving competition, that their competing at all today just seemed like a formality. However, anyone who is familiar with Murphy’s Law knows: Anything that can go wrong, does.

It went wrong in Michael Brauchle’s round, he namely drove through the wrong obstacle with his team of horses and was thus eliminated. That was bitter! The European Champion of 2015 was crying when he drove from the arena. It was still possible for Georg von Stein and Mareike Harm to drive the victory home, but then one ball too many fell. The dream of the long-awaited triumph was shattered. “But I am delighted about the second and third place in the individual classification, with regards to the World Championships in Hungary,” the German Coach, Karl-Heinz Geiger, stated.

The Netherlands completed the Nations’ Cup on a total score of 334.520 minus points, the German score was 335.610. Third place went to Belgium on 352.560 minus points.

Goosebump moments from Werth and Wendy in the Lindt-Prize

07.07.2024 14:16

Isabell Werth had already eternalised her name 14-times…

Isabell Werth had already eternalised her name 14-times on her “favourite board”, which is located at the entrance to the Main Stadium at the Soers. The fact that her 15th victory in the Grand Prix Freestyle, the Lindt-Prize, is really special, is among others because of her new four-legged dance partner, Wendy.

“Normally the dressage stadium calls up the jumping because we are too loud. But this time it was extremely loud in the dressage arena as well,” joked Birgit Rosenberg, Head of Sport at the CHIO Aachen with a sidewards glance at the top three riders from the Lindt-Prize, the Grand Prix Freestyle on Sunday morning at the CHIO Aachen. Isabell Werth with Wendy, Frederic Wandres with Bluetooth and Ingrid Klimke with Franziskus were among those who rocked the sold-out Deutsche Bank Stadium today. First and foremost, Werth and Wendy.

The judges awarded an incredible score of 89.095 percent for the black mare’s performance. At championships that would be the sort of score that would pick up an individual medal. Wendy didn’t put a hoof wrong in her new freestyle routine, for which the text of Barry Manilow’s “Oh Mandy” had been changed into “Oh Wendy”. The crowd applauded nearly all of the riders as they turned onto the final centre line. But in the case of Werth and Wendy the fans went totally crazy, yelled and whistled. No sign of the sacred silence that usually prevails in dressage arenas, instead pure enthusiasm. Wendy stayed totally cool. As Isabell Werth reported: “She didn’t have a wet hair on her body when she went in, nor when she came out.” Regardless of the thunderous applause of the crowd, she kept in rhythm in piaffe and passage and then walked calmly to the exit, while Werth waved to the spectators, thanking them for the standing ovation. Definitely a special moment, even for the dressage rider, who has won everything there is to win.

“That was unbelievable for me too. Today was our day. We grow closer together day by day. Wendy was really totally cool, although it was so loud. She simply said: “Tell me what to do”, and then she did it. I have been here so many times, but today was the best day ever. It is a pleasure to be here.”

Second place went to Frederic Wandres with Bluetooth on a score of 83.010 percent. Yesterday, Isabell Werth, shook him out of his mental low with a strict “Pull yourself together!”, today everything went easier, according to Wandres. He was satisfied with his freestyle: “We had no technical mistakes, the walk line was fine, but I felt bit of tension. The technical mark was good, there is some room for improvement with the B mark. I was slightly behind the music here and there.” As far as Bluetooth is concerned, he was very happy: “We have been here a week and now today on Sunday he felt just as fresh and smooth as on Monday.”

Ingrid Klimke and Franziskus came third on 81.385 percent. There is an extended trot right at the start of her freestyle choreography, the great strength of “Franz”. Unfortunately, he broke into canter. “I risked a little too much and pushed him too much. I played it safe after that,” is how Klimke analysed the situation. Nevertheless, she was delighted to have been there today. “It is the first time that I have ridden the freestyle on the Sunday morning. The atmosphere is incredible! You could even hear the crowd during the warm-up. When you ride under the bridge into the stadium, it is a very special moment, and when you ride onto the final line to salute: “Aachen is simply unique. The crowd is so knowledgeable. They know what they see and want they want.”

Birgit Rosenberg could only agree: “We are just the ones, who prepare the stage. The rest is up to the horses and riders. Thank you for the beautiful dressage we have seen all week!”

Robert Whitaker wins the Mystic Rose Prize

07.07.2024 13:38

His father has won the Rolex Grand Prix…

His father has won the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen and his uncle. This year is Robert Whitaker’s premiere appearance at the CHIO Aachen. His victory in the Mystic Rose Prize was good preparation for his first Grand Prix in Aachen.

After coming third with Team Great Britain in the Nations’ Cup, Robert Whitaker walked off with the gold rosette today. The British rider jumped clear in the fastest time of 64.97 seconds in the Mystic Rose Prize, a 1.45-metre competition against the clock, with the 15-year-old KWPN gelding, Evert. “It has been a good week for me and my first victory here in Aachen is the highlight,” Whitaker said – and immediately added: “But the week isn’t over yet…“. Because he is competing in the Rolex Grand Prix later today.
Unlike Romain Duguet from Switzerland, who ended his week at Aachen with second place with his Selle Français gelding, Bel Canto du Boguin. Duguet and Bel Canto de Boguin took 65.19 seconds for their clear round. The rider from the USA, McLain Ward, has been in a head-to-head this week with Richard Vogel to see who could collect the most results under the top three. Ward added a further placing to the list today: He finished third with the OS mare, First Lady by Don Diarado, in a time of 65.64 seconds.

Second victory for Siebe Leemans in the NetAachen-Prize

07.07.2024 10:43

First time at the CHIO Aachen, competed in…

First time at the CHIO Aachen, competed in two classes, won two classes – the Dutch aspiring talent, Siebe Leemans, boasts a 100-percent success quota for his debut at the Soers in the scope of the NetAachen-Prize.

Couldn’t go better. After the recently crowned Dutch Champion of the Young Riders, Siebe Leemans, was already able to assert himself in the opening competition of the NetAachen-Prize, he then continued his winning streak in the Final with a jump-off. Exactly half of the 20 participants reached the jump-off. Leemans, who lives near Eindhoven and trains with his father, was the eighth to go with Karamella. The nine-year-old mare knocked 0.73 seconds off the leading time. Two rides later, Siebe Leemans was celebrated as the winner.

Second place went to the double-European Champion of the Children in 2022, the just 16-year-old Tony Stormanns, with the Selle Français gelding, Donjon d’Asschaut. Representing Germany, the son of the former world-class show-jumper, Helena Stormanns, who is a successful trainer today, crossed the finish line in a time of 42.93 seconds. The clock had stopped at 42.20 seconds for Leemans and Karamella. Tom Wachman from Ireland, who came second in the opening competition, finished third with Obora’s Laura (43.61).

Leemans was, of course, overjoyed about his victory. “I was happy even to be allowed to ride here and to go on an win two classes is, of course, something very special.” Whereby he knows that in Karamella he has the right partner at his side: “My horse is a true fighter. She always wants to jump clear.” The U21 European Championships are Leemans’ next goal.

Rebecca Thamm receives the “Silver Camera”

07.07.2024 10:35

The equestrian sport has many faces, it tells…

The equestrian sport has many faces, it tells exciting stories and can be incredibly emotional. The award ceremony of the “Silver Camera”, which pays tribute to the best equestrian photo of the year, proved this on Saturday evening.

What distinguishes a good photo? The motif? The technical quality? The atmosphere? A star-studded jury have to answer this question every year. Because the organisers of the CHIO Aachen, the Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein e.V. (ALRV), traditionally confer the “Silver Camera” for the best international equestrian sport photo of the year. 166 photographs had been submitted, however only could win. This year Gerrit Nieberg, German show-jumper and winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHIO Aachen 2022, last year’s winner Pauline Roy Chowdhury, Andreas Müller (CEO Medienhaus Aachen) and ALRV board member Philip Erbers were responsible for selecting this year’s winners and runners-up. “The quality of the photos is outstanding. The decision wasn’t easy for us jury members,” stated Philip Erbers. The entry from Rebecca Thamm ultimately convinced the star-studded jury. Her photo, that captured an exceptional fair play moment during the CHIO Aachen 2023, particularly stood out against the remaining entries thanks to its perfect interplay between emotion and technique. Second place went to the Dutch photographer, Danielle Smits, who shot an intimate moment on the warm-up area at the CHIO Aachen. Jasmin Metzner won third place with her photo of the 2023 Rolex Grand Prix winner, Marcus Ehning.

The “Silver Camera” is awarded by the Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein and was initiated by the artist, Wolfgang Lamché. The prize was presented on Saturday evening by the ALRV Supervisory Board member, Peter Weinberg. First place is endowed with prize money to the value of 2,500 Euros, second place wins 1,000 Euros and third place 500 Euros.

A “victory that means the world” to the Ecuadorian rider, Julio Mendoza in the IWEST-Prize

06.07.2024 23:49

His whole life long Julio Mendoza Loor had…

His whole life long Julio Mendoza Loor had dreamt of riding in Aachen. This dream not only came true for the dressage rider from Ecuador tonight, he actually won the IWEST-Prize.

With a narrow lead, the gold medallist of the Pan-American Games, Julio Mendoza Loor, rode to victory in the Grand Pris Freestyle, the IWEST-Prize with his KWPN gelding, Jewel’s Goldstrike. The pair were awarded a score of 78.920 percent for their choreography to among others, “La Isla Bonita”. Second place went to the Polish dressage rider, Sandra Sysojeva and her just eight-year-old Oldenburg-bred mare, Maxima Bella, on a score of 78.510 percent. The US-American team silver medallists from the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper, came third (76.430 percent).

“This victory means the world to me,” explained the overwhelmed winner. “I have always dreamt about competing here in Aachen. The fact that this dream has come true with this horse, means everything to me!” He and Jewel’s Goldstrike alias “Goldie” have been a pair for five years. The biggest achievement in their career to-date was claiming the title at the Pan-American Games in 2023. Up until now they have only competed in the USA (where Goldie otherwise lived out at grass 24/7, as Mendoza Loor explained), this is his first season in Europe.

Sandra Sysojeva with Maxima Bella was torn between joy and disappointment at coming second. The black mare first competed at international level in Hagen and the pair’s performance was characterised by lightness and harmony. Which would have been anything but matter of course a few years ago, as her trainer reported: “Sandra bought her as a two-year-old together with other young horses. The mare proved to be extremely difficult. But with an incredible amount of patience she has managed to win the mare over.” And now they had won a silver rosette on their debut appearance at the CHIO Aachen. Until Julio Mendoza Loor and Jewel’s Goldstrike entered the dressage arena as the last pair to go, it looked like they were going to win the class. So, having missed out on the victory so narrowly, was of course slightly disappointing. But this is without doubt not her last appearance in Aachen.

Speed, excitement and fun in the MERKUR SPIELBANKEN-Cup

06.07.2024 23:39

In the late evening on Saturday, the Soers…

In the late evening on Saturday, the Soers rocked in the MERKUR SPIELBANKEN-Cup, the “Jump & Run” of the special kind.

Six teams à six horses, two riders and a driver are the ingredients that turn the Merkur Spielbanken-Cup into a relay race of the special kind at the Soers. First of all, a shortened version of the cross awaits the participants. As soon as the eventer has reached the finish line, the show-jumper sets off and once he has mastered his course, the cross-country rider, who should have already handed his horse over to a groom, has to leg it over to a carriage as fast as possible, jump on and off they go. The fastest team with the least faults wins.

That was the “green team” this evening, an Australian/Brazilian trio comprising of Kevin McNab with Willunga, Rodrigo Pessoa with Dhalida and Boyd Exell, who was already the fastest in the Prize of schwartz Gruppe earlier today. The green team’s combined score was 126.30 seconds.

On an overall score of 129.32 seconds, the orange team, two thirds of which was made up of Oranje riders, came second: Lars Kersten with Holywood and Bram Chardon with his team. The remaining third was actually British, but he was in disguise, namely cladded in a jacket of the Dutch team: David Doel with Captain Kadou.

In third place: The red team on a score of 131.12 seconds, comprising of Calvin Böckmann with Crunchip M from Germany, the Swiss eventer Romain Duguet with Stawita PS and Jérôme Voutaz, also from Switzerland, whose four Freiberger horses impressed the crowd with their agility and speed.

Wotax-Prize for Charlott-Maria Schürmann’s black pearl

06.07.2024 22:55

Charlott-Maria Schürmann claimed the victory in the Intermédiaire…

Charlott-Maria Schürmann claimed the victory in the Intermédiaire I, the Wotax-Prize, with a round that was almost as beautiful as her mare, Dante’s Pearl.

Charlott-Maria Schürmann and her nine-year-old Oldenburg-bred black mare, Dante’s Pearl, won the Intermédiaire I, the Wotax-Prize with a high-quality and harmonious performance. The five judges unanimously saw the pair in first place. Her score: 75,383. Frederic Wandres came second with Quizmaster on a score of 73,647 percent, followed by Juliane Brunkhorst with Diamante Negro (72.50). Hence, a German triple.

This marks a very special victory for Charlott-Maria Schürmann. In 2016 and 2017, she was placed here in the CDI4* Tour with her former top horse, Burlington. And now she has returned victorious: “It is, of course, a huge honour for every rider to compete here in Aachen. I already achieved some good results with Dante’s Pearl this year. But the fact that I was invited to ride in Aachen, honestly bowled me over. And of course I wasn’t expecting her to perform so well here. I am overjoyed that she let herself be celebrated so magnificently by the huge crowd in this stadium and simply gave everything. She really enjoyed it, me too. It is a dream here!” A dream with a dream horse, as Schürmann confirmed: “Pearlie has been with me for two years and I think she enchants everyone, who sees her, because she is simply so beautiful. This horse is simply unique, I think, and is simply something special for us all.”

Levi Noesar wins the Sparkassen-Youngsters-Cup, Richard Vogel a foal

06.07.2024 22:43

Unbelievable, but true: Richard Vogel notched up his…

Unbelievable, but true: Richard Vogel notched up his fourth victory this week here at Aachen in the Final of the Sparkassen-Youngsters-Cup (in addition to four further top placings). He has high hopes for the future for the horse that made it possible.

Richard Vogel had brought the eight-year-old KWPN gelding, Levi Noesar, to Aachen with him for the Sparkassen-Youngsters-Cup, a Zirocco Blue son, bred by Jur Vrieling, the former team World and European Champion from the Netherlands and the rider of Zirocco Blue. They came second in the first of the three competitions in total, fifth in the second class and then today the chestnut gelding, showed his full potential. The pair sped around the jump-off course to cross the finish line in 42.93 seconds. The only rider, who could have stolen the victory from him was Ben Maher (GBR) with the OS gelding, Corlander, who were the last to go in the jump-off. They won the first competition and afterwards Maher had praised the star qualities of the Cornet Colbert son, which he also demonstrated today. Although they weren’t faster than Vogel and Levi Noesar, they were certainly close at their heels (42.93 seconds). Third place went to the just seven-year-old Zangersheide-bred mare, Marieke Z Santa Rosa by Moncler van Overis under the Canadian rider, Erynn Ballard. The pair took 43.78 seconds to complete the course.

Richard Vogel said about Levi Noesar: “He was schooled by Nina Piasecki before he came to me. He is jointly owned by Mario Piasecki and Patrick Mielnik. They then decided that on his way into top sport we would perhaps make a good match. I started riding him in December, but we consciously didn’t take him to America with us, because we wanted to bring him on gently and so I didn’t actually start competing with him until April.” His first international results since then are impressive: Three shows, eight competitions, eight placings and he didn’t pick up a single fault. And the success story has continued in Aachen: “We are, of course, delighted that he has jumped clear on all three days here in Aachen and winning the Final was the icing on the cake.” That is a statement in itself about the quality of the horse. Especially considering the tough competition he was up against. Over half of the participants had qualified for the jump-off, 17 of the 30 horses and 15 of these jumped clear again.

The Sparkasse donates a special prize for the rider with the highest combined score from all three competitions: a promising foal with an excellent jumping pedigree. This year a Rhineland-bred filly that descends from Christian Ahlmann’s aspiring star, Dourkhan Hero Z out of a Canturo dam. The breeder is Peter Chorus from Aachen. And its new owner is Richard Vogel. The plan for his newcomer? “Rear him, then train him!” Perhaps the young lady will return to the Soers in a few years’ time.

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