Five years ago, Philipp Weishaupt met his girlfriend, Bliss Heers, at the CHIO Aachen – the native American is, like himself, a show jumper. On Saturday, the two got engaged, and on Sunday Philipp won the the Grand Prix of Aachen, riding the young stallion LB Convall.
And how he won! Two time faults after the first round, with the entire world elite to follow. How high had he rated his chances of winning at that point? “Absolutely zero!” Instead of preparing himself professionally for the second round, he chose to wander round Aachen village with his new fiancee, Bliss. He came back for round two and went on to jump clear. While others had been in a position to beat him (Martin Fuchs from Switzerland and Gerco Schröder from Netherlands had the only two clears in the first round) it wasn’t to be. Philipp finds his victory “incredible” and “awesome”.
A win at the next Major – Spruce Meadows in Canada in September – would give Philipp a tilt at the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, and there is a story behind this too, because the world-famous showground at the gates of Calgary is where he prepared himself for the Aachen Rolex Grand Prix. If he wins at Spruce Meadows, he then has to win the Grand Prix at Geneva to claim the $1m Rolex Grand Slam prize.
Philipp is a professional rider at the Beerbaum Stables, and LB Convall, who is just nine years old, is Holstein-bred. Their victory was over a course that designer Frank Rothenberger described as the “most curious” in his career.
Under an overcast sky in humid conditions, 40 combinations from 13 nations lined up for the competition, which is considered by both spectators and riders to be the toughest Grand Prix in the world. Phillip’s colleague at the Beerbaum Stables, Henrik von Eckermann, said in advance that the track was extremely tricky, and that time would be the problem. He was right: all three who went clear (Philipp, Gerco Schröder and Martin Fuchs) had time faults.
The second round seemed like an entirely different competition with the 17 who went through posting 11 clear rounds, including a superb performance from Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Fibonacci 17, and Aachen favourite Marcus Ehning on Pret a Tout, who was willed over every fence by the patriotic crowd.
Scott Brash (GBR) corrected his mistake of four faults and one time from round one by riding a flawless second round with Ursula XII. The mare had been out for two years recovering from an injury, so Scott was delighted with her first outing in the huge arena. Spain’s Alvarez Moya followed the British lead and cruised around the course with Carlo 273, also putting pressure on Philipp. The atmosphere was electric as the crowds waited for the last two riders, Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs riding Clooney 51 and Gerco Schröder on Glock’s Cognac Champblanc N.O.P. Uncharacteristically, Clooney refused the final fence, and Gerco’s grey gelding had four faults, handing the win to Philipp and the young stallion.
Commenting afterwards, Philipp said, “I was first to go so didn’t have too many expectations. When I walked it I knew it was hard to jump a clear round, but Convall jumped amazingly in both the first and second round. I have been riding in the Grand Prix here at Aachen for the last 10 or 12 years and that was the toughest course I have ever jumped.”
Scott Brash was second with five faults, and Alvarez Moya was third with a slightly slower time. In fourth place was Marcus Ehning who made a comeback in the second round by jumping his Olympic ride Pret A Tout clear in 71.83, staying ahead of Canada’s Tiffany Foster who finished in fifth.
ROLEX GRAND PRIX 2016 RESULTS
1. Philipp Weishaupt (GER), riding LB Convall
2. Scott Brash (GBR), riding Ursula XII
3. Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP), riding Carlo 273
4. Marcus Ehning (GER), riding Pret A Tout
5. Tiffany Foster (CAN), riding Tripple X III
6. McLain Ward (USA), riding HH Azur
7. Elizabeth Madden (USA), riding Cortes ‘C’
8. Daniel Deusser (GER), riding Equita van’t Zorgvilet
9. Judy-Ann Melchior (BEL), riding As Cold as Ice Z
10. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER), riding Fibonacci 17