Philipp Weishaupt (Photo: Spruce Meadows Media / Mike Sturk)
29 horse and rider combinations navigated the Leopoldo Palacios-designed course in Spruce Meadows’ iconic International Ring, each hoping to take home the spoils in the SUNCOR Winning Round at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’.
Local favourites Eric Lamaze and his 22-year-old prodigy, Kara Chad, wowed the excited spectators in the arena’s packed stands, both going clear and posting impressive times of 71.10 s with Chacco Kid and 71.45 s with Viva, respectively, well within Palacios’s 74-second limit. Also progressing to the second round was Calgarian Jim Ifko and his 10-year-old bay stallion, Un Diamant des Forets, who went clear in a time of 71.80 s. Seven further riders from six nations successfully negotiated the Venezuelan course designer’s tough challenge to set up a 10-pairing showdown in the Winning Round, with notable top-class riders including The Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten and Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt.
First to go was Ireland’s Connor Swail, setting the early pace after going clear in a time of 54.38 s. Five-time Major winner Eric Lamaze and Chacco Kid demonstrated the strength of their bond by going double clear, while Lamaze’s mentee, Kara Chad, piloted Viva superbly before clipping the final rail. France’s Edward Levy, Ireland’s Daniel Coyle, and Australia’s Rowan Willis all put rails down to finish below Chad in the final standings. Jim Ifko notched up a double clear, fractionally beating Lamaze’s time. Philipp Weishaupt and Solitaer 41 entered the Ring looking sharp and impressively knocked Swail off top spot in a time of 53.25 s. Last to go was Maikel van der Vleuten, but his best wasn’t good enough to deny Weishaupt a well-deserved victory.
Weishaupt – who has had a memorable week after securing victory aboard Sansibar 89 in Thursday’s CANA Cup – etched his and his 10-year-old grey gelding Solitaer 41’s names on to the SUNCOR Winning Round trophy after a jumping display of the highest order.
Having won the CP ‘International’ in 2017 aboard LB Convall, the duo heads into Sunday’s $3 million blue ribbon class full of confidence and are sure to push the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender and Weishaupt’s fellow countryman Marcus Ehning all the way.
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.
Philipp Weishaupt and Chico 784. Photos by Spruce Meadows Media Services.
Tiffany Foster and Meredith Darst Top 1.50m Competitions on Thursday of the ‘North American’ Tournament
Calgary, AB, Canada – The ‘North American’ Tournament CSI5*, presented by Rolex, continued on Thursday with a win for Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt and Chico 784 in the feature Progress Energy Cup 1.55m at Spruce Meadows. The pair topped a 13-horse jump-off to win over Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Check Picobello Z in second, and Richard Spooner (USA) with Chivas Z third.
The Sun Life Financial ‘Reach for the Sun’ 1.50m was also held on Thursday with a win for Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Brighton. Earlier in the day, young rider Meredith Darst (USA) won the ATCO Cup 1.50m with her horse Quester de Virton.
Spain’s Santiago Varela set the courses on Thursday and saw 20 starters in the day’s highlight Progress Energy Cup 1.55m with 13 moving on to the jump-off. Six entries completed the short course without fault, with the fastest time of 42.08 seconds completed by Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt aboard Madeline Winter-Schulze’s Chico 784.
Eric Lamaze (CAN) was close on his heels in 42.84 seconds to finish in reserve aboard Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable’s Check Picobello Z. Richard Spooner (USA) and his own Chivas Z placed third in 43.45 seconds.
Weishaupt has earned a lot of top finishes this summer, but a win had eluded him until Thursday. The rider from Germany was thrilled to finally get his victory in one of the biggest competitions of the series with Chico 784, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Cordalme x Sandro) that he brought along from four years old.
“It was so nice to get my first win in the International Ring here, especially in that competition,” Weishaupt stated. “It was one of the highlights of the weekend, and the competition with the second best money of the whole tournament, so I am so excited that I won it. I had a good feeling on Chico in the first round and I thought I would try in the jump-off. I risked a little bit more than I did in the first weeks and I am so happy it worked out.”
Detailing his winning jump-off, Weishaupt noted, “I thought that if somebody went crazy they would beat me, but they had to try hard to get that time. I think I had a pretty good jump-off and Chico is a fast horse. He loves those big grass arenas and he has a huge stride. I knew that if they wanted to beat me they would have to go quick today.”
Before this summer, Weishaupt had only competed at Spruce Meadows in the ‘Masters’ Tournament, but decided to try out the Summer Series this year for the great competition and excellent ranking points.
“I came to Spruce Meadows three or four times to the Masters with the German team,” he explained. “Every year I did very well, I just never had the win. We won the Nations’ Cup two times as a team, but I never had an individual win here, so it feels really good today. It is a special moment.”
Weishaupt recently jumped from 139th to 81st in the Longines FEI World Rankings thanks to his great results at Spruce Meadows.
Commenting on his major move, the rider remarked, “I did not do much for half a year and that gets you to the bottom of the ranking list fast, so that is another reason that I came here this summer. It is a great place to earn points to come up in the rankings. I was shocked when I saw the list that I moved up so much; it was amazing. You have to have the right horses; it does not come automatically. You have to be strong, and you have to have the right horses, and you have to be competitive; otherwise you are not moving anywhere.”
Weishaupt plans to jump Chico 784 again in Saturday’s ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup. His horses will then fly back to Germany where he will compete at the CHIO in Aachen.
Concluding the day, Weishaupt stated, “I love Spruce Meadows. Calgary is a great place to compete; the horses love it, the riders love it, and it is just an amazing place. I am definitely coming back again.”
Foster Gets a Win in the Sun Life Financial ‘Reach for the Sun’ 1.50m
The Sun Life Financial ‘Reach for the Sun’ 1.50m jump-off was held Thursday evening with a win for Canada’s Tiffany Foster aboard Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable’s Brighton. Foster and the ten-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Contendro II x Quick Star) topped an eight-horse jump-off out of 27 starters over the Santiago Varela (ESP) designed course. They completed the fastest of six double clear rounds in 35.54 seconds.
Mario Deslauriers (USA) and Wishing Well Farm’s Cherrypop finished second in 35.94 seconds. Richie Moloney (RL) and Equinimity LLC’s Merquisio placed third in 36.08 seconds. Lucy Deslauriers (USA) with Lisa Deslauriers’ Hester, and Peter Lutz (USA) aboard Katherine Gallagher and Michael Meller’s Retiro, tied for fourth place with matching times of 36.53 seconds. Brian Morton (CAN) and Grafton Farm’s Atlantis T placed sixth in 37.89 seconds.
Commenting on her winning mount, Foster smiled, “He is awesome. We got him when he was seven, and from right when we first started competing together, he has always been a winner. This year he has actually really stepped into his own. He has won a few times this year and he is just the coolest; I love him.”
Foster has also had many top placings throughout the summer series, and already this week, and was happy to finally win one in the ‘North American’ Tournament.
She stated, “Spruce Meadows is so special in any ring, but especially in the International Ring, and I have been second a lot here. I have been so close so many times. I have been trying to win all of them and I just keep being not quite fast enough. I know with this horse that I can take all of the risk. It is funny, because Philipp Weishaupt and I have been joking that we have been the bridesmaids of this tournament because we have both been second a lot. Then he won the big competition today, and I won this one, so we were the brides today!”
Foster detailed her plan for the jump-off, noting, “I find Brighton a little bit short-strided, so I do not always try the big leave outs. But as has been the case in a few of the competitions that we have won, Eric (Lamaze) said to me, ‘Nope, you can do it, you can leave that stride out,’ and I kind of went with it. If Eric says I can do it, I know I can do it, and it generally works out.”
Foster added, “Every course suits Brighton. He can do anything. He goes forward, he adds, he is so clever, and so quick. His legs move so fast. He is a really cool, very special horse, and I feel really lucky to have him. It really shows this initiative that we have had at Artisan Farms with Andy and Carlene Zielger buying young horses and bringing them along. All of our horses that are so successful, most of them we have started as young horses. They are really patient owners and they have really encouraged us to bring the young horses here to Spruce Meadows and develop them, and then we come back with horses that can win a lot of competitions.”
Meredith Darst Takes First International Victory
The ATCO Cup 1.50m jump-off was the first event to be held in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows on Thursday with a significant win for 19-year-old Meredith Darst (USA). The young rider took her very first FEI victory aboard Quester de Virtonafter only jumping clear over her first 1.50m track just 24 hours before.
Course designer Santiago Varela (ESP) saw 45 starters over his first round course, yielding 12 to advance to the jump-off, where Darst had the advantage of being last to go. After watching the early competitors, she stole the lead in 46.89 seconds
Antonio Maurer (MEX) and Mario Onate’s Balarina 3 finished second in 47.56 seconds. Jonathan McCrea (USA) and Candy Tribble’s Brugal VDL placed third in 49.08 seconds. Leslie Howard (USA) jumped into fourth place aboard her own and Peter Howard’s Up & Blue Chapelle in 49.13 seconds, and Enrique Gonzalez (MEX) placed fifth aboard his own Chacna in 49.51 seconds.
Darst, who usually trains in the U.S. with Max Amaya, has had the privilege of being coached by Olympic gold medalist Eric Lamaze (CAN) this summer. With Lamaze looking on, she laid it all on the line with “nothing to lose” in Thursday’s competition.
“It is my first FEI win, so it is incredible,” Darst remarked. “Yesterday was the first time that I was clear in a 1.50m ever. I am just honored to show here, and compete in this ring, and I do not think it has really hit me yet.”
Detailing her jump-off round, Darst explained, “The first half of the course is where I made up speed I think. Eric Lamaze is helping me and he said to go for it on jumps one, two, three, four, and I do not think I have ever gone so fast in my life. I just galloped! Then I took my time a little bit in the end, just because there were harder, more careful parts at the end of the jump-off course. My horse jumped great. He was with me everywhere and I just felt really confident.”
Darst had never even met Lamaze before coming to train with him in Calgary this summer, but has learned a lot in the last several weeks.
“It has been an incredible experience,” she noted. “Eric was like, ‘If you want to go for it, just go!’ And I was not going to say no, so I went for it.”
Speaking of Quester de Virton, a 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Aiglon Rouge) that she has owned for one year-and-a-half, Darst added, “I really just started doing big jumpers when I got Quester. I always did a lot of hunters in the U.S., and getting my confidence up has been enough of a project, but when you have a horse that has all the scope and all the heart it really makes your job easy. I just have to find the jumps. Last year I did a 1.55m here, which was my first big competition on him. I have gotten to know him well, so we are really clicking now, and it is so much fun. He is a really great horse.”
The ‘North American’ Tournament, presented by Rolex, continues on Friday featuring the Pepsi U25 Challenge and the LaFarge Cup 1.50m in the International Ring in the evening.
WILY WEISHAUPT IS BEST IN BORDEAUX – by Louise Parkes
Bordeaux (FRA), 5 February 2011 – Philipp Weishaupt and the stallion Catoki brought the German tally of wins in the 2010/2011 Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping Western European League qualifying series to a sensational six this evening at Bordeaux in France. The 25 year old rider from Munich was one of 12 in the thrilling second-round jump-off, and he steered a line against the clock that proved too good for the rest and brought him through the finish more than a half-second quicker than French runner-up Simon Delestre. Third place went to Beijing Olympic silver medallist Rolf-Goran Bengtsson from Sweden while Ireland’s latest super-star, Billy Twomey, was less than a second off the winning time when slotting into fourth.
Weishaupt was more than happy at the end of the day. “Those 20 points were very important to me,” he said. “I really wanted to get to the final in Leipzig, but I needed more points and now I think it’s possible so I’m very pleased!” he added. The Germans look a formidable force going to the final on their home turf. With six victories in the ten qualifying competitions staged to date, they will surely be the ones to beat when the action gets underway on April 27.