Image courtesy of ROLEX.
Home favourite Philipp Weishaupt, riding LB Convall, thrilled the capacity 40,000 crowd to win the Rolex Grand Prix on the final day of the world famous CHIO Aachen, the highlight of the World Equestrian Festival, and the first equestrian Major of the year.
The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping holder Scott Brash, riding Ursula XII, took second place and Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya aboard Carlo 273 was third.
Under an overcast sky and humid conditions, 40 riders from 13 nations qualified for the Rolex Grand Prix, and were faced with a typically challenging course set by designer Frank Rothenberger. Rightly considered by both spectators and riders as the toughest Grand Prix in the world, the first round showed the sport of show jumping at its most challenging.
Reiterating the importance of the clock, only 13 riders completed their first round within the time allowed, but incurred jumping penalties. Three combinations jumped but picked up penalties against the clock. Separated by time faults, the first rider into the ring Philipp Weishaupt accumulated two, behind Gerco Schröder and Martin Fuchs with one.
The second round seemed like an entirely different competition with the seventeen starters posting eleven clear rounds including a scintillating performance from Rolex Testimonee Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum riding Fibonacci 17, who also jumped double-clear during the Nations Cup competition earlier in the week, and Aachen favourite Marcus Ehning on board Pret a Tout, who were willed over every fence by the patriotic crowd.
But it was Weishaupt who turned up the pressure, with a fault-free second round leaving him in the driving seat. The atmosphere was electric as the crowds waited for the last two riders, Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs riding Clooney 51 and Gerco Schröder riding Glock’s Cognac Champblanc N.O.P., to enter the ring. But sport can be cruel, and with Fuchs’ horse refusing the final fence, and Schröder incurring four faults, Philipp Weishaupt and LB Convall were crowned the winner of the Rolex Grand Prix.
Weishaupt has only ridden the nine-year-old LB Convall for the last ten months, starting the 2016 summer outdoor season competing in 3* Grand Prix classes, and only progressing up to 5* level during the Grand Prix at the Spruce Meadows summer series, which proved to be the perfect preparation for the large grass arena at Aachen.
Commenting on his victory, Weishaupt said, “I was first to go so did not 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 ten or twelve years and that was the toughest course I have ever jumped.”
He continued by saying, “I just did my thing and it is unbelievable. I just can’t believe it.”
This year’s Rolex Grand Prix saw the welcome return of Scott Brash’s Ursula XII who proved she is back to winning ways with a clear in the second round. Speaking about Ursula, Brash said, “Ursula jumped wonderful today and I’m delighted with her. She has been out of the sport for two years; she’s now 15 so to get her back to this level of the sport, all my team, all my staff have done a wonderful job getting her back this top end, so touch wood, she feels fantastic and hopefully we’ll get a victory with her soon.”
All eyes will now be looking ahead to the next equestrian Major at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in September, where Weishaupt will attempt to continue his reign as the live contender of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, and write his name in the history books alongside Rolex Testimonee Scott Brash.
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