CHIO Aachen is over for 2017 and what an exciting festival of equestrian sport it has been over the last nine days. Featuring eventing, show jumping, dressage, driving, vaulting and plenty of shopping, it is certainly an event to put on your bucket list, if you haven’t already!
A cool, overcast day welcomed the 40 combinations who had qualified for the Rolex Grand Prix. This is one of the four Majors which make up the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, and every rider had travelled here with the aim of winning it.
The course, designed by the notoriously demanding Frank Rothenberger, asked continuous questions over the first round, with 16 jumping efforts to tackle.
Only seven clear rounds were produced within the time, including a superb one from Canadian Olympic 2016 bronze medallist, Eric Lamaze. Two seconds faster than the rest of the field, he set the bar high for the second round.
Eighteen riders went through to this, including Scott Brash, Kent Farrington and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum each with four faults from the first round.
Luciana Diniz, Marc Houtzager, Gregory Wathelet and Laura Kraut all went clear in the second round, but Eric Lamaze had an unlucky four faults and dropped from contention .
First to go in the jump-off was Marc, who went clear in 53.66 seconds, but was quickly beaten by Luciana, who raced around in 47.40. Greg and Coree sliced off another second, winning on 46.60, and unlucky Laura Kraut took the last rail, dropping to fourth place. However, Laura’s beautiful grey mare won the prize for the show’s most successful horse.
This is the start of a new Rolex Grand Slam attempt for Gregory, with the next leg taking place at Spruce Meadows in Calgary in September.
You could hear a pin drop when Isabell Werth and Weihegold entered the stadium for the last of the dressage competitions.
There is currently no other horse that can match the quality of the Oldenburg-bred Don Schufro daughter, and as Dr. Evi Eisenhardt, Chief Judge at C, explained: “My colleagues and I wished we could have awarded 11s and 12s today.” The mare didn’t make a single mistake throughout her freestyle, and the result was a score of 89.675.
The crowd exploded and gave the six-time Olympic gold-medallist a standing ovation. “I had a super feeling today,” said Isabell afterwards. “She was by me from the first to the last moment; we were in perfect harmony.”
Sönke Rothenberger and his KWPN gelding, Cosmo, also turned on a magnificent display, and took second place with a very impressive 85.75%.
The career of this 22-year-old German and his 10-year-old gelding has been meteoric, with their first team appearance in 2016 and from there straight on to Rio, where they helped win team gold.
Third place went Laura Graves, who came to Aachen determined to beat Isabell Werth, and did so in the Grand Prix Special on Saturday – her 30th birthday – with the gorgeous Verdades. Today, a few mistakes in the canter tour left her with a score of 82.550.