The Rolex Grand Prix in Zurich…

Steve Guerdat, Olympic Champion, jumps the London bus

Steve Guerdat, Olympic Champion, jumps the London bus

Marcus Ehning wins the Rolex Grand Prix in Zurich….

Marcus and Kuchengirl

Marcus and Kuchengirl

Well done Marcus!! So perhaps the Swiss crowd was a bit disappointed that their home rider, Jane Richard Philips, didn’t win on Swiss soil, but let’s be honest, we’re always happy when Marcus wins.

It was a steady class, with 41 entries. California’s very own Richard Spooner started things off with the World’s number one ranking WBSFH horse, the lovely Cristallo. The first clear came from Oslo World Cup winner, Jeroen Dubbeldam, and the vivacious BMC Quality Time. The next would come from Switzerland’s very own Paul Estermann and the lovely Castlefield Eclipse.

Jane and Pablo

Jane and Pablo

The crowd roared for it was guaranteed that at least one Swiss rider would jump off for the Rolex title. The happy Swiss crowd were overjoyed to see Jane Richard Philips, another Swiss rider, qualify through to the jump off aboard Pablo de Virton. A very exciting accomplishment for the Swiss miss, currently ranked 148th in the world.

Many of you might remember Jane from the 2010 FEI World Cup finals in Geneva where Jane finished 4th in the last Qualifier with Zekina Z. So naturally, this 29 year old Swiss jockey doesn’t mind battling it out with the best.

Some hopeful combinations came through such as Katharina Offel and Fidji Island as well as Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum with Bella Donna and last weekend’s World Cup winner, Christian Ahlmann, and his bay stallion Codex One, but it seemed the wide blue oxer and the Rolex triple combination would ask too much for many.

Britain’s speed demon, Laura Renwick, was next to go clear with the feisty Oz de Breve. Once the British-born blonde ensured her place in the jump-off, we knew it was sure to be interesting.

Sergio and Carlo

Sergio and Carlo

Penelope Leprevost attempted a clear round with her big grey stallion Mylord Carthago, but alas it was not to be. Following France’s leading lady however, came Sergio Alvarez Moya and Carlo 273. Now this combination is one of my favorites of the season and I think a serious contender for the title in Gothenburg. Carlo and Sergio have come together so beautifully and I was sure they would qualify for the jump off.

Sure enough, my faith was well rewarded and Sergio and Carlo’s clear round numbered the 4th combination to battle it out. Following Sergio, previous World number one, Rolf attempted a clear round, Silver medalist Marc Houtzager and Gold medalist Scott Brash aboard his relatively new mare, Ursula, but none managed to join the rather small group of qualifiers.

Roger-Yves Bost and Castle Forbes Myrtille Palouis looked as though they may become the 5th but instead the competitive combination retired half way through the course.

Despite the long list of accomplished riders to follow Sergio, only one other combination managed to qualify through to the jump off; Marcus Ehning and Noltes Kuchengirl. A worthy combination with plenty of speed on standby.

Only six horse-and-rider combinations would stick around for the jump off. The rest of the 35 riders could take their boots off and enjoy the show, and it show it most certainly was.

Jeroen Dubbeldam and BMC Quality Time were first in the ring but alas, it was not to be with 8 faults, including the first fence, and a time of 38.44 seconds. Swizterland’s very own Olympic combination, Paul Estermann and Castefield Eclipse, were next in and the Swiss crowd grew quiet with hope. Would it be a Swiss victory?

Unfortunately, the bay mare would rub one fence, accumulating 4 faults but clocking in a very fast time of 35.92 seconds to give the remaining field a taste of what was possible.

Marcus and Kuchengirl clear the first fence

Marcus and Kuchengirl clear the first fence

It was Jane Richard Philips who would serve up the first clear round and the packed stadium couldn’t have been more overjoyed. Jumping a picture perfect round with her bay gelding Pablo, Jane consolidated a time of 40.48 seconds.

So, well behind Paul and with Sergio and Marcus left to go, it looked doubtful that a Swiss victory would be celebrated tonight.

Sergio and Carlo were next and guaranteed to be fast, the combination set the pace early on, but it was the frustrating blue oxer, set wide, that would dash any hopes of a Moya victory. The spaniard’s disappointment etched all over his face, as he knew coming to the last few fences that he would not hear the Spanish anthem tonight.

Last to go was Marcus and Kuchengirl; a combination who have been together now for over 6 years. A tried and tested combination known for their pace, the pair put that reputation to good use tonight with a solid round, jumping clean with a time of 37.35 seconds.

Congratulations to Marcus Ehning for winning tonight’s Rolex Grand Prix in Zurich, Switzerland.

Rolex Grand Prix (Zurich, Switzerland)

FEI – Art. 238.2.2 (1.55)

1. 42 Noltes Küchengirl Ehning, Marcus GER
B 16-j.S v.Lord Z/M.v.Cambridge Cole/BAY/GER24879/B: Echo Büromöbel Vertriebs Gmb
2. 100 Pablo de Virton Richard Philips, Jane SUI
B 10-j.W v.Andiamo/M.v.Kashmir van’t Schuttersho/SF/102NF56/B: All.To Guldenboom
3. 75 Castlefield Eclipse Estermann, Paul SUI
B 11-j.S v.Obos Quality/M.v.Not Recorded/ISH/IRL40616/B: Fasana Jocelyne
4. 11 Carlo Alvarez Moya, Sergio ESP
SCH 12-j.W v.Contender/M.v.Cascavelle/HOLST/GER42975/B: Marta Ortega
5. 28 Oz de Breve Renwick, Laura GBR
F 11-j.H v.Dollar du Murier/M.v.Grand Veneur/SF/102MB54/B: Mr David Perry
6. 55 Quality Time TN Dubbeldam, Jeroen NED
SCH 11-j.H v.Quantum/M.v.Cantus/HOLST/NED40905/B: H.J.Nijhof
7. 47 Vincente Kürten, Jessica IRL
B 11-j.W v.Oklund/M.v.Ufarno/KWPN/NED41587/B: Stal Poels and James Paterson-Robin
8. 37 Chaman Beerbaum, Ludger GER
B 14-j.H v.Baloubet du Rouet/M.v.I Love You/KWPN/MEX01925/B: Winter-Schulze, Made
9. 108 Coolgirl Schwizer, Pius SUI
SCH 9-j.S v.Bill vd Heffinck/M.v.Polydor/WESTF/103EV86/B: Balmelli Armando
10. 53 Cocoshynsky Gaudiano, Emanuele ITA
B 10-j.S v.Cornet Obolensky/M.v.Popcorn/WESTF/102YQ85/B: Equita Kft
11. 5 d’Atlantique Royale Mathy, Francois Jr BEL
B 10-j.W v.Darco/M.v.Kannan/BWP/BEL42817/B: Team Harmony & François Mathy
12. 117 Carusso LS la Silla Bengtsson, Rolf-Göran SWE
B 11-j.H v.Montebello la Silla/M.v.Joost/SLS/MEX40260/B: Club Hipico la Silla/Rol

What a great Week in Germany…..

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you AACHEN!!!

Michael Whitaker and Gig Ami win the 2012 Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen

A place of show jumping history…

It was the first time I had ever been to Aachen and man is it everything I imagined. As a Canadian, when I think about International show jumping, when I think about a show where great riders from all over the world come to compete for a title that will be recognized across the world… of course I think about Spruce Meadows.

Spruce Meadows is and was the first show for Canadian riders like myself to attend and compete amongst the best in the world. I remember the first time I went to the Summer series at Spruce. We were stabled in the same aisle as Eric Lamaze, who I had just only recently met for the first time. Michael Whitaker was down the other end of the same stable with his niece, Ellen, in Barn D, while Richard Spooner was across in Barn E. It was the first time I was amongst so many greats, in one place. I saw them every day, every night and I even managed to establish some friendships with a few. It was a cross-over for me and it changed the way I saw our sport, forever. Seeing so many great riders, from all over the world and getting to know some was such a treat for me; a local Canadian girl from Vancouver.

Naturally, Europe; the epicenter of show jumping, has its own Spruce Meadows, that is older and more established.

That is Aachen.

Aachen is the most famous show jumping competition in the world. I mean this place, this show ground, has been established for more then a century (that is a 100 years you realize….). It was founded in 1898 and the first “Riding and Driving” event was in 1924. In 1927, Aachen held its first International “Riding, Jumping and Driving” event with 8 participating nations.

I mean, Aachen is as old as the sport itself.

When you walk to the entrance of the main jumping stadium, you see the wall that displays all the winners of the ‘Grand Prix of Aachen” dating back to 1927, when Major Lotz (GER) won riding Olnad.

The list runs through with the world’s greats…

(1954) H.G. Winkler (FRG) with Orient

(1960) George Morris (USA) with Night Owl

(1962) Alwin Schockemohle (FRG) with Freiherr

(1964) Nelson Pessoa (BRA) with Gran Geste

(1974) Paul Schockemohle (FRG) with Talisman

(1977) Harvey Smith (GBR) with Graffiti

(1978) Eddie Macken (IRL) with Boomerang

(1982) Nick Skelton (GBR) with Everest if Ever

(1992) Jos Lansink (NED) with Opibeurs Egano

(1994) Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) with Special Envoy

(1997) John Whitaker (GBR) with Welham

(2002) Ludgar Beerbaum (GER) with Goldfever 3

(2004) Markus Fuchs (SUI) with Tinka’s Boy

(2005) Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) with Shutterfly

(2006) Marcus Ehning (GER) Nolte’s Kuchengirl

(2007) Beezie Madden (USA) with Authentic

(2008) Albert Zoer (NED) with Sam

(2009) Denis Lynch (IRL) with Lantinus

(2010) Eric Lamaze (CAN) with Hickstead

(2011) Janne Friederike Mayer (GER) with Cellagon Lambrasco

The energy of this place was amazing. The sound of the crowd when Marcus Ehning went clear in the first round of the Nations Cup was unbelievable. The sound of 40,000 spectators cheering is really uplifting and for the sport of show jumping it is terrific.

As a Canadian, I have only ever seen large crowd’s for a show jumping competition at Spruce Meadows. But I have never seen anything like I have seen in Aachen. In 2011, there was a total of 363,000 spectators in attendance through out the week. Seeing such a large attendance, day in and day out, made me realize how central I am to the sport and how much the Western-European populace is aware of our sport. The crowd was incredible on Sunday for the Rolex Grand Prix. There was not one empty seat in the main stadium. It was so truly incredible to be part of such passion and excitement. Standing in the Rider’s tribune, next to Rodrigo Pessoa and Ludgar Beerbaum on the steps, as they cheered Michael on for the win, I felt a real part of history and a real part of this sport.

I will never forget that feeling.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Michael Whitaker wins the 2012 Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen…..

“It only took me 30 years”

said Michael after I congratulated him on his win this afternoon. Michael is one of my absolute favorite people on the circuit. One of the coolest, most down-to-earth guys you have ever met. As I was standing in the Rider’s tribune cheering Michael on in the jump off, along with all the other riders, grooms, owners and associates, I realized that I was not the only one who felt this way about the infamous Whitaker.

“No one deserves it more” said Ramzy Al Duhami (KSA)

Michael was defiantly the favorite to win. Rodrigo was yelling “Michael, Michael, go Michael” as he raced through the last two fences. The whole Rider’s Tribune was on the edge of their seats, cheering him on through every fence and every turn.

“He rode the jump off so well” said Trevor Coyle (IRL)

Michael was quite emotional during the ceremony and so he should be. The Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen has been a goal of his for over 30 years. It is especially timely, as Michael, was rather surprisingly not given a placing on the British Team for the London Olympics next month and so this win must mean a lot.

Michael will join his older brother John on the famous plaque at the Aachen judging tower. John Whitaker won the Rolex Grand Prix aboard Welham in 1997. Now Michael can rest easy, as both brothers are on the famous winners wall.

 

More details on my Weekend Review so stay tuned….

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.