What an anniversary! Coinciding with the tenth birthday…
What an anniversary! Coinciding with the tenth birthday of the Rolex Grand Slam in Aachen, there was a German trio on the podium and the heroes of the hour are Marcus Ehning and Stargold.
Five pairs reached the jump-off, three from Germany: Philipp Weishaupt with the nine-year-old Zineday, then the winning pair from 2021, Daniel Deußer with Killer Queen, and Marcus Ehning with Stargold. The two further pairs were the Mexican rider, Eugenio Garza Perez with Contago and the Olympic gold medallist, Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) with Major Tom. They were the first two pairs to go in the jump-off, but both picked up four faults each. Then it was the turn of Weishaupt and Zineday – they were as fast as lightning: 43.36 seconds, but they too knocked a rail. But they were nevertheless still in the lead. Next to go: Deußer and Killer Queen, the winners of the Rolex Grand Prix in Spruce Meadows in 2022 and thus contenders to win a 250,000-Euro bonus. They delivered a super round, fluent, clear in a time of 45.73 seconds, the new leaders.
Marcus Ehning and Stargold entered the ring. The stadium fell silent. One could even hear Stargold’s rhythmic snorting from the top rows of the stand. The stallion didn’t waste a millisecond in the air and nor did Ehning on the ground. He didn’t quite find the right take-off at one fence, the whole crowd gasped, but the rail stayed up. And then they jumped the last obstacle clear, Ehning glanced swiftly to the clock: 45.12 seconds, 1st place. Marcus Ehning tore his helmet from his head, cheered, hugged his stallion’s neck, waved to the crowd, evidently not knowing what to do for pure joy. He had succeeded. For the third time, for the first time with Stargold. What a memorable moment!
He could hardly hold back the tears during the prize-giving ceremony. Stargold on the other hand stood relaxed on a long rein in front of the Rolex Grand Slam Trophy, laughed like a stallion, looked around full of confidence and seemed to be fully aware that he was the hero of the hour. A star that is worth his weight in gold. His rider says he is “probably a bit arrogant, but in a nice way”. And a “real pal”. Ehning’s conclusion: “Today, was our day. I had a good feeling all week. He likes the stadium, he was in super form two weeks ago. But to win the Grand Prix of Aachen is unbelievable!”
It is a good thing he hasn’t been competing the week after Aachen for years. “I decided that because one never knows what might happen. I have had so many good and bad experiences over the years here in Aachen.” But he does know what is going to happen this week: “We will celebrate a nice party!”
It was a very expensive sixth tenths of a second for Daniel Deußer. But he took coming second and missing out on the bonus in his stride: “I am very, very happy with the performance of my horse today. We had three really fantastic clear rounds. I thought the jump-off was good for my feeling. I tried to put a bit of pressure on Marcus. I have mixed feelings, of course I would like to be stand on the winning podium, but even if I had ridden a second faster, Marcus would probably have done the same.“
Philipp Weishaupt, who finished third, certainly hadn’t reckoned on coming under the top three with his just nine-year-old, Zineday. “No one else had such a young horse. So, sitting here on the podium next to these two guys with their experienced Championship horses is a great result. He said knocking the rail was his fault. “I took the oxer too direct, I could have chosen the line a bit better and then it would have took Daniel and Marcus a little bit more to beat us. But to come third here in Aachen with a 9-year-old horse is fantastic!”
And all of this at the anniversary edition of the Rolex Grand Slam in Aachen. CHIO Aachen Head of Sport, Birgit Rosenberg stated: “I think if you saw the competition today, it says it all about this series. Top sport, tradition, the best crowds, the best organisers in the world come together here. The series is fantastic for the sport. Thank you Rolex! The home crowd here in Aachen was superb, I am really proud of these people, they made this week very special.”