Amazing Aachen, an equestrian extravaganza

Aachen is one of those venues that is worth putting on your list of places to visit, especially when you get to watch world class riders at work! Steve Guerdat has a live chance of claiming the coveted Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping there this month, but in order to do so, he first has to take the GP win...

The beautiful Aachen arena. (Image: ©Rolex/Kit Houghton)
The beautiful Aachen arena (Image: ©Rolex/Kit Houghton)

Elite competitions in show jumping, eventing and dressage return to Aachen this month, as the world’s top riders take part in the first equestrian major of the year.

Considered by many to be the greatest horse show in the world, CHIO Aachen attracts a record attendance, with more than 400,000 spectators across 10 full days. It runs from July 8-17 this year and offers driving and vaulting as well as the three main disciplines. The ultimate highlight, the Rolex Show Jumping Grand Prix, is scheduled for Sunday July 17.

New Zealand’s eventing team will compete on July 15-16. The riders are: Blyth Tait (Xanthus III), Jonelle Price (Faerie Dianimo), Tim Price (Bango), Sir Mark Todd (NZB Campino) and Jock Paget (Clifton Signature).  New Zealander Andrew Bennie will be on the eventing ground jury. The German Olympic team will be there too, and Australia’s Shane Rose is riding CP Qualified, his first start in Europe this campaign.  The full entry list for eventing can be found here.

THE ROLEX GRAND SLAM OF SHOW JUMPING

Rolex
The Rolex Trophy (Image: Rolex/Kit Houghton)

The show jumping course is designed by the legendary Frank Rothenberger, and is widely acknowledged as one of the most demanding for equine athletes, testing horses and riders to the limits of their skills. Crowds in excess of 40,000 are expected to watch Rolex Testimonee Steve Guerdat tackle this challenge and attempt to maintain his position as the live contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping (CHIO Aachen, CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ and CHI Geneva).

The Rolex GP at CHIO Aachen has been won by some of the most famous names in the sport, including father and son Nelson and Rodrigo Pessoa, and Rodrigo’s fellow Rolex Testimonees, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Eric Lamaze and Scott Brash. Scott won the Grand Slam in 2015 and will be back again this year.

However, all eyes will be focused on leading Swiss rider and current Olympic champion Steve Guerdat, who won at CHI Geneva in December 2015 and will be aiming to continue his quest for the Grand Slam by chalking up win number two at Aachen.

Rolex Testimonees
Rolex Testimonees: Eric Lamaze, Steve Guerdat, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and the Director of Communications for Rolex, Arnaud Boetsch

EQUESTRIAN TESTIMONEES SET TO COMPETE AT AACHEN

Rolex has close partnerships with a handful of top riders – its equestrian Testimonees. These men and women are notable not only for exceptional levels of achievement, but also for their horsemanship and sportsmanship, and the ability to deliver repeatedly under pressure.

A number of them will be in Aachen with their leading horses this year, including Canadian Eric Lamaze (who won the Rolex title in 2010 with Hickstead) and the ‘first lady’ of German show jumping, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, who will be hoping to repeat her 2005 victory.

 

Rodrigo Pessoa at Aachen in 2014 (Image: Rolex, Kit Houghton)
Rodrigo Pessoa at Aachen in 2014 (Image: Rolex, Kit Houghton)

Kent Farrington (USA), French rider Kevin Staut and Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa will also be there, as will Rolex’s youngest Testimonee, Bertram Allen of Ireland.

The full list of show jumping entries can be found on this link.

World and Olympic gold medallist Isabell Werth is competing in the CDIO dressage. Isabell has won Aachen’s Grand Prix an amazing 11 times, and is regarded by Rolex as ‘an iconic Testimonee’.

Four Australians are also riding in the competition.  The full list of CDIO entries can be found on this link.

AN OPENING CEREMONY LIKE NO OTHER

More than 160 horses and 500 participants will take part in a spectacular official opening ceremony on July 12. “Forget everything you know about CHIO Aachen opening ceremonies to date. This year’s will be better than ever,” says show director Frank Kemperman.

Many of the competitions will be live-streamed. Times are not yet available but can be found on this link in due course.