(Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Peggy Schröder)
Fifty world-class horse and rider combinations entertained CHIO Aachen’s crowds over one round and a jump-off in Friday’s feature class, the RWE Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia, the final chance for those riders not already qualified to book their place in the week’s pinnacle event, Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix.
Second to go, Germany’s Jana Wargers made the 17-fence Frank Rothenberger-designed course look straightforward, effortlessly going clear with her 12-year-old Eve Jobs-owned bay stallion, Limbridge, in 87.02s. The 30-year-old – currently ranked number 361 in the world – was to hold on to top spot for the majority of the first round, after many of the sport’s very best were unable to emulate her performance and go clear, demonstrating how difficult the course was. However, reigning Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping champion, Great Britain’s Scott Brash, and his 12-year-old gelding, Hello Jefferson, and Nicolas Delmotte of France and his 13-year-old gelding, Urvoso Du Roch, both demonstrated their talent, confidently navigating the course without accruing any penalties, thereby triggering a deciding three-horse jump-off.
First to go in the jump-off, it looked as though the crowd favourite, Jana Wargers, would make it a fairy-tale ending after going double clear in a time of 47.03s. Next up, Scott Brash was to also go double clear, but over a second faster than the German managed, slotting into top spot with just one rider to go. Last to go, July’s winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at the Chantilly Masters, Nicolas Delmotte breezed the jump-off, eventually eclipsing Scott Brash’s time, finishing double clear in 45.03s.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix, current world number 25, Delmotte, commented: “I’m very happy about this season’s results that I’ve had with Urvoso du Roch and also today. I’m feeling confident with him, but this will be the very first Major of his career, so I am looking forward to the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday.”
On his 13-year-old gelding, Urvoso du Roch, who he competed with at the recent Tokyo Games, the Frenchman said: “He’s very sensitive, but he didn’t start very well with his previous rider, and would sometimes refuse jumps. Now, he has a bit of a funny technique, and I think he has to really grow into these classes with their heights. I will have to be very careful with how I ride him, to make sure I give him the opportunity to jump well, so he can use his technique to the best of his ability.”
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