Tag Archives: Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping

The Legend of the Rolex Grand Slam in Numbers

Photo: Rolex Grand Slam.

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping was launched in April 2013 and is today regarded as one of the most revered prizes in equestrian sport. The concept was created by the organising committees of three of the world’s biggest and most well respected shows – CHIO Aachen, Germany; CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, Canada; and CHI Geneva, Switzerland – and rewards the rider who consecutively wins the Grands Prix at these three shows with a €1M bonus. In March 2018, these three global events, which are also known as ‘Majors’, were joined by a prestigious fourth – the largest indoor show in the Netherlands: The Dutch Masters.

The first and only winner of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is Scott Brash MBE, who achieved this pursuit of excellence in 2015 aboard his bay gelding, Hello Sanctos. Having already triumphed in the Rolex Grands Prix at the CHI Geneva 2014 and the CHIO Aachen 2015, the British rider then went double clear in the ‘CP International’, presented by Rolex at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in 2015, and in doing so reached the pinnacle of the sport.

In a relatively short period of time, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has grown exponentially and has established itself as the sport’s ultimate challenge, attracting the very best horse and rider combinations on the equestrian world stage. While tennis has its four Grand Slam tournaments (Australian Open; French Open; The Championships, Wimbledon; and US Open) and golf has four Major championships (Masters Tournament; The Open; U.S. Open; and PGA Championship), the sport of showjumping is proud to have its very own Grand Slam. What makes the Rolex Grand Slam stand out from its tennis and golf counterparts is that women and men compete against one another on the same level for the same prize.

Since its inception, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has welcomed over 653,500 spectators yearly to its four Majors, crowned Major champions from nine different nations, while everything has been made possible by the unwavering support of more than 2,150 loyal volunteers.

© 2020 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

National Government Guidelines Force Cancellation of The Dutch Masters 2020

As a result of COVID-19, the organising committee of The Dutch Masters 2020 announced that it has cancelled the event with immediate effect. National government guidelines state that events in the Netherlands involving over 100 people must be cancelled.

Event Director of The Dutch Masters, Marcel Hunze, commented: “The national government just announced that all events in The Netherlands where there are more than 100 people need to be cancelled. Although we only have 60 riders here at The Dutch Masters, together with the grooms and the organisers, we are far in excess of 100 people, so we had no other option than to cancel the event immediately. We’ve managed to speak to all of the event’s stakeholders in the last few minutes, and they totally understand and agree that there is no other alternative.”

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping family stands together in solidarity, with the organisers of CHIO Aachen, Spruce Meadows, and CHI Geneva offering their unwavering support to The Dutch Masters and everyone associated with the Show.

Full release here.

© 2020 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Martin Fuchs Travels to Dutch Masters as Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Live Contender

Geneva, Switzerland, 9 March 2020 – The world’s top show jumpers will gather at The Dutch Masters, the largest indoor show in The Netherlands from 12-15 March, to contest the first Major of 2020 in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. The Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday 15 March is the highlight of this four-day show and will provide a thrilling finale to this prestigious event.

For more than 60 years, Rolex has been a committed partner of equestrianism, dating back to 1957 when pioneering British show jumper Pat Smythe became the sport’s first Testimonee. As part of its quest for perpetual excellence, Rolex partners with individuals and organizations from the world of equestrianism who set the highest standards of performance. The Dutch Masters, with its rich equestrian history dating back to 1967, upholds these values and the pursuit of such ideals.

With over 60,000 spectators expected to attend The Dutch Masters over the four days, an electric atmosphere will welcome the world’s best show jumping combinations. Requiring an immense test of character and courage, each partnership will be required to display the highest level of precision and skill to tackle the Rolex Grand Prix.

ROLEX GRAND SLAM OF SHOW JUMPING LIVE CONTENDER

Following his victory in the Rolex Grand Prix at the 2019 Concours Hippique International de Genève (CHIG), Rolex Testimonee and current European champion, Martin Fuchs, said, “Competing at The Dutch Masters for the first time is even more special as I am going there as the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender. The chance to emulate Scott Brash’s historic achievement would be a dream come true and I hope to get one step closer to this goal at The Dutch Masters.”

THE ROLEX FAMILY OF TESTIMONEES

Rolex has an affinity with human achievement that dates back to the origins of the company, and supports equestrian sport in its quest to unite and inspire. Joining Fuchs at The Dutch Masters are several legends of equestrianism and fellow members of the Rolex family of Testimonees, whose achievements have inspired today’s rising stars.

These inspirational riders include World No. 1 Steve Guerdat, winner of multiple elite titles, who will be determined to add this to his list of achievements in an already glittering career. The United States’ Kent Farrington will also be looking to extend his rich run of form from 2019 when he won the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen and the Rolex International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC) Top 10 Final at the CHIG.

Home favourite and highly decorated show jumper, Jeroen Dubbeldam, will be hoping to achieve success in front of an enthusiastic crowd. However, challenging competition awaits the Dutch rider from his fellow Rolex Testimonees, including France’s Kevin Staut, a two time Grand Prix winner at this Major (2010 and 2014) and Great Britain’s Scott Brash, the only rider to complete the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping when he won three consecutive Majors in 2014-2015 with his champion horse, Hello Sanctos.

In addition to witnessing the world’s elite show jumpers do battle, spectators will see in action the world’s most decorated dressage rider, Rolex Testimonee Isabell Werth. The record holder for the most Olympic medals in equestrian has had great success in ’s-Hertogenbosch, winning the Grand Prix Freestyle three times (2007, 2009, and 2018).

Virginie Chevailler
Rolex SA
virginie.chevailler@rolex.com
+41 (0) 22 302 2619

Merrick Haydon
rEvolution
mhaydon@revolutionworld.com
+44 (0) 7748 186 833

Inside the Dutch Masters 2020: Rolex Grand Slam Rider Watch

(Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

This year’s The Dutch Masters, held from 12-15 March 2020, will see more than 65,000 spectators descend on the town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch to watch some of the world’s best riders go head to head. Audiences can expect an all-encompassing programme of equestrian competitions, where some of the world’s most distinguished show jumping and dressage riders will be competing. The Rolex Grand Prix, the pinnacle of this year’s event, will culminate on the Sunday afternoon, where a variety of equestrian’s elite riders will do battle to become the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender.

The Brabanthallen ‘s-Hertogenbosch (14,500 capacity) will welcome a number of the world’s best horse and rider partnerships. The 2020 Dutch Masters will feature multiple contenders who will be vying for victory in the first Major of the calendar year.

Rolex Testimonee, Steve Guerdat (SUI), is no stranger to achieving excellence at the Majors. Three-time winner of CHI Geneva, the current World No. 1 will be hoping to emulate this success at The Dutch Masters this year. He brings with him a formidable number of horses, putting him in good stead for the upcoming competition, in his bid to become the new live contender.

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender, Martin Fuchs (SUI), is also in contention. Having already achieved so much at a young age, his career highlights include an individual silver medal at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games and most recently, an individual gold medal at the 2019 FEI European Championships. Fuchs has also shown a run of recent good form, securing a first-place victory with Stalando 2 in the Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup CSI 5* and he will be hoping to add this year’s Dutch Masters trophy to his impressive list of accomplishments. The Swiss Rolex Testimonee will be partnered with a strong string of horses, including his top mount Clooney 51, who led him to victory at CHI Geneva last December.

Henrik Von Eckermann (SWE), a previous live contender, is one to follow at this year’s Dutch Masters. Following a stellar 2019, including victories in the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters and at CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show, Eckermann will be hoping to defend his title and re-take the reigns as the live contender. The strong partnership with the talented Toveks Mary Lou, has allowed the Swedish rider to rise up the world rankings and the mare’s ability to produce quick jump-off times in small arenas, means there is no doubt he will be feeling confident heading to The Netherlands next week.

The home crowd can look forward to seeing a strong contingency of contenders including former World No. 1 Harrie Smolders and European gold medalist Jeroen Dubbeldam who will both be pushing for big results. It will be also be an emotional occasion for Dutch rider, Maikel van der Vleuten who will be retiring his legendary horse Verdi TN at the Show following an incredible 15-year partnership.

© 2020 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Exclusive Interview with Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Live Contender Martin Fuchs

Martin Fuchs (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

The Rolex Grand Prix win at CHI Geneva was obviously very emotional for you; can you talk about what that win meant for you, especially in front of your home crowd?

Geneva has always been a good show for me. I’ve never been close to winning the Rolex Grand Prix there though, so when I qualified for the jump-off, I was very excited. Clooney was in great shape and I knew the jump-off would suit us both. I kept focused and tried to go as fast as I could whilst sticking to my plan. It was then hard for me to watch the others go and I was quite sure that what I’d done wasn’t enough and one of the best riders would beat me. When Darragh Kenny, who was the last rider in the ring, had a pole down, I realized I’d won. It was an incredible moment, made even more special winning in front of my home crowd, my family, and my friends.

Looking ahead to The Dutch Masters, which has a much smaller arena, does that change your preparations at all?

Our preparation doesn’t change at all. Clooney is very good in the smaller arenas, so in a way it’s better for him. I’m excited as this will be my first time at The Dutch Masters; we will be competing at a 2-Star event with Clooney also in Holland a few weeks prior to The Dutch Masters in order to be as prepared as possible.

Clooney 51 is a superstar horse; how did your journey start and how have you grown together?

We bought Clooney through one of my best friends, when he was seven years old. In the beginning, he was a bit difficult, but he’s always been a great horse to ride. When he was eight years old, I realized that he could be a special horse, as he’d often placed in big Grands Prix. As a nine-year-old he placed second in a 5* Grand Prix in Doha. To become the team we are today, we’ve worked very hard on our dressage and his confidence. I try my best to keep him happy and give him the confidence he needs to perform, then in the ring he normally doesn’t let me down.

What do you think are the qualities he naturally has that make him so special?

Clooney is very careful and clever at the fences; he’s very aware of his surroundings and always knows where the poles are. He’s a very intelligent jumper, with his own style; he doesn’t over-jump and never runs through the fences.

Do you plan on taking Clooney to The Dutch Masters?

I will definitely be taking Clooney; we’ve been training hard and preparing, so we have a good chance to do well.

You have achieved so much already but what are your next dreams and ambitions, what do you want to achieve?

I was ecstatic to become world number one; it was obviously a huge success and a dream come true for me, especially considering I’m still quite young. The Rolex Grand Prix victory in Geneva was the best possible outcome for me, which makes me a live contender for the Rolex Grand Slam. My main goals for this year are the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping and of course the Olympics in Tokyo, which I’m incredibly excited for.

The Rolex Grand Prix win at CHI Geneva was obviously very emotional for you; can you talk about what that win meant for you, especially in front of your home crowd?

Looking even further ahead to CHIO Aachen, again another completely different arena, does Clooney grow in an arena like Aachen? How does it affect him?

Clooney can be a little spooked in the big grass arenas, which makes things a little bit more difficult. Aachen is over the course of a whole week, which gives me the chance to get Clooney in the ring a couple of times before the Grand Prix, which will help us be more prepared. Last year he jumped really well and had clear rounds; however, during the second round I didn’t ride so well, but ultimately, I’m looking forward to bringing him back to the show.

Scott Brash won Rolex Grand Slam with Hello Sanctos; do you think Clooney could be a potential horse that could emulate their success?

I have complete faith in Clooney. I know he can win in any arena in the world, in any class. This gives me a lot of confidence, but I’ve not even dreamed about winning the Rolex Grand Slam because it’s so difficult. Anyone involved in our sport knows what Scott Brash has achieved is incredible and the odds of it happening again are so low. Of course, Clooney and I will try our best but who knows what the future holds?

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I don’t think I’ve had a standout piece of advice given to me. I’ve learnt a lot of important values from a variety of people; the most important things I believe are to work hard, be dedicated, try to understand your horse, and do your best every day.

When you’re not riding and competing, what are you doing? Do you have any hobbies outside of showjumping?

I’m quite laid back, so when I’m not competing, I like to go for long walks on the beach by the water, but sometimes I also go into the city. I try to relax as much as possible when I’m not training or competing. I think that’s important if you want to do well.

© 2020 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Inside the CHI Geneva: Martin Fuchs Wins Rolex Grand Prix

Photo: CHI de Genève / scoopdyga.com.

Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs becomes the new Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender following his victory in the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva. The formidable duo of Fuchs and Clooney 51 once again showed the strength of their partnership, producing a speedy clear round in the jump-off (38.60 seconds) that proved impossible to catch. Great Britain’s Scott Brash was just 0.05 seconds behind his fellow Rolex Testimonee securing second place with Hello Senator and Belgium’s Jérôme Guery finished in third.

How does it feel to win your first Major?

Wow! This is a huge win for me; it is certainly a career highlight and tops off an unbelievable year for me. I am so happy.

What does CHI Geneva mean to you now?

It is one of best shows in the world and one that every rider wants to win. I am so happy that I was able to be so competitive at this Rolex Major and to win the Rolex Grand Prix in front of my home crowd is so special.

Clooney 51 is a superstar; how did he feel?

Clooney is a phenomenal horse and his performance was exceptional. Everyone saw what he did in the arena; he tries so hard and is just amazing.

Super Saturday at CHI Geneva

The biggest U25 class at the CHI Geneva, the Grand Prix des Espoirs, was won by USA’s Coco Fath and her chestnut gelding, Exotik Sitte. The 19-year-old from Fairfield Connecticut produced an electric jump-off to seal the victory in the time of 34.89 seconds.

Fath commented on her win: “I am so honored and humbled to just be a part of this legendary event but to win here is a dream come true. I am lucky to have such an incredible team behind me at Amethyst Equestrian with Rodrigo, Alexa, and Fran (our groom) all here supporting me, as well as the equally incredible team at home cheering from afar! And of course, the inimitable Exotik Sitte a.k.a. Scotty who is the best partner I could ask for!”

It was an emotional Saturday evening at the CHI Geneva as the show jumping world bid goodbye to Scott Brash’s legendary horse, Hello Sanctos, in a special retirement service. Brash paid tribute to the horse that helped him become the only rider to have won the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping: “He’s made all my dreams come true and I really can’t thank him enough for what he has done. I also need to thank my owners for believing in me and believing in Sanctos. We had an incredible partnership and I hope he will be remembered as a superstar.”

Watch here the tribute video.

© 2019 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Inside the CHI Geneva: Kent Farrington Wins the Trophée de Genève

Kent Farrington (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

USA’s Kent Farrington produced a lightning fast round aboard his notoriously fast mount, Creedance,  to claim the Trophée de Genève at CHI Geneva. This victory secures Farrington’s spot in Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix, where he will be hoping to emulate his success of 2017 and become the next Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender.

How did you produce such a fast round?

I brought Creedance here because he is so fast and he does a lot by himself, so I just try to stay out of his way and let him go, which is usually the best plan. He’s actually won this class before, so he really knows what he’s doing and he showed that tonight.

You have had a lot of success at this Major; how does it feel to be back?

Yes, I think this is one of the best, if not the best show of the year. All the top riders, all the greatest horses are here, and every class feels important. Each class is hard to win and, of course, it’s part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping so it’s very special. I’m just really glad I have started off so well and hopefully we can keep it up.

Looking ahead to Sunday, which horse will you be riding in the Rolex Grand Prix?

The plan is to ride Gazelle. I am going to do the normal routine, let her get some small rounds under her belt for her confidence, and the go for it on Sunday.

© 2019 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Riders to Watch in Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva

Photo: Rolex / Kit Houghton.

From 12-15 December 2019, show jumping fans will travel to Switzerland for what is widely regarded as the world’s greatest indoor competition, CHI Geneva. The event, which spans four days, marks the final Major of the year and will welcome the world’s best equestrian combinations. Each rider will compete in front of around 42,000 people at Palexpo, the biggest indoor jumping arena in the world, as they seek to gain show jumping’s highest honors.

Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Rider Watch

Visitors attending the 2019 edition of CHI Geneva will witness world-class equestrian action at an event that has been voted the world’s best show jumping competition nine times. With several of the world’s most prolific horse-and-rider combinations set to compete, there will be numerous contenders vying to be crowned the next Rolex Grand Slam live contender, further adding to the hype of the highly anticipated event.

One of the favorites to claim this year’s title is legendary Swiss rider and World No. 1, Steve Guerdat. The Rolex Testimonee has built up a great run of form this season after winning the ‘Pan American’ Grand Prix presented by Rolex in Spruce Meadows this summer and finishing second in the 2019 Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters in March. Already a three-time winner of Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva, Guerdat will be eager to impress once more in front of a vibrant home crowd.

American rider Kent Farrington sits just outside of the world’s top 10 but has already established himself as one of the best riders in the world after magnificently winning the 2019 Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen with his outstanding mare Gazelle. The Rolex Testimonee has been on fine form this season, making him a prime contender for the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva title, which he previously claimed back in 2017.

Never far from success is Germany’s Daniel Deusser, who currently sits at third in the Jumping World Rankings. Given his recent form, including a second-place finish in the 2019 Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen back in July, Deusser is expected to be one of the top performers at this year’s event in Geneva.

Current World No. 2, Martin Fuchs, is another rider who will be looking to secure the Major win in his native Switzerland. The young rider has already achieved much success in his career, including a silver medal in the Individual Jumping at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™, and is the current European Champion. Fuchs’ recent results have helped the 26-year-old establish himself as one of the world’s very best competitors, so there will be a high level of expectation for him to finish off the year with his first Rolex Grand Prix title.

A field of 40 combinations will battle it out in the hope of seizing the final Major victory of the year in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping at CHI Geneva, which promises to be a weekend of enormous competition starting on December 12th.

© 2019 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Rolex and Equestrianism: An Enduring Legacy

Photos: Ms. Baade riding Clemens in the Wallküren-Preis at CHIO Aachen, 1930; Isabell Werth riding Satchmo at CHIO Aachen, 2010.

More than 60 years ago, Rolex formed a partnership with the greatest show jumper in history to represent Great Britain, the pioneering Pat Smythe. Winner of more grand prix events in more countries than any man or woman before her, she was the first female rider to participate in the Olympics and the first to win a medal, a team bronze in Stockholm in 1956. Like Rolex, she was an innovator, always pushing back the boundaries of what was possible. In 1957 Smythe joined the Rolex family, becoming its first equestrian Testimonee, marking the start of one of the strongest alliances in the sport. Since then, Rolex’s bond with the equestrian world has grown stronger each year. In 2019, Rolex celebrates several key anniversaries within the sport, with milestones for two elite equine events and two legendary athletes.

ROLEX GRAND SLAM

Rolex’s association with one of the sport’s four prestigious Majors began 30 years ago when it partnered with the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, the annual show jumping competition held in the foothills of the Alberta Rocky Mountains in Calgary, Canada. It was here, in 2015, that Rolex Testimonee Scott Brash etched his name in equestrian history by becoming the first and, to date, only winner of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, the sport’s ultimate prize awarded to the winner of the Grand Prix at three successive Majors. His feat was the result of an unwavering quest for perfection, an unprecedented display of precision and excellence required to win all of these historic Majors.

Preceding the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ is the CHIO Aachen, an event that this year celebrates 20 years of partnership with Rolex. Founded in 1924, this revered event in Germany is the oldest of the four show jumping Majors. Its rich heritage is cherished by the knowledgeable 360,000 fans that annually fill the 40,000-seat open-air stadium over nine days of top-tier competition. Widely considered equestrianism’s “homecoming” event, CHIO Aachen is often likened to The Championships, Wimbledon, being the oldest and most prestigious tournament within the sport. Another quality it shares with the esteemed tennis event, which Rolex is proud to have partnered for more than 40 years, is the unquestionable passion of the spectators who travel far and wide to watch their heroes in action. Isabell Werth is one rider who enjoys superstar status at CHIO Aachen, competing in front of an adoring home crowd whose noisy adulation fills the purpose-built Hauptstadion.

THE QUEEN OF DRESSAGE

Over the years, Werth has become known as “the queen of dressage,” a title bestowed on her due to a glittering career that has helped elevate the discipline to new heights. Werth has won more Olympic medals than any other equestrian athlete in history, 10 in total, six of them gold. Her long list of achievements includes a World Championship victory in 2006 at Aachen, where she was presented with an engraved Rolex Timepiece, and a gold medal for team dressage and a silver for individual dressage at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Speaking of her key achievements, Werth said: “You don’t forget those special moments, even after all these years. Every time I look at my Rolex watch it reminds me of reaching the very top of my sport.”

THE PESSOAS

Another key member of the Rolex family is the Brazilian show jumper Rodrigo Pessoa. Son of Nelson Pessoa, a legendary equestrian athlete in his own right, Rodrigo seemed destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. Commenting on his childhood, Rodrigo says: “My father travelled a lot. Taking me to the shows was a way for us to spend time together and he wanted to see if I would catch the horse and competition bug at a young age, and I did.” As Rodrigo grew up, he had the benefit of his father’s knowledge and expertise to guide him through the highs and lows of being an elite equestrian athlete. Nelson supported his son every step of the way, from the moment he first made an impression on the sport at the age of 19, to winning Olympic gold in Athens in 2004. Rolex also has supported Rodrigo during his decorated career. Throughout this partnership, 20 years old and still going strong, the gifted rider has received many accolades and established himself as one of the most respected names in the sport. Of the partnership, Rodrigo says: “The support from Rolex shows how committed they are to our sport and to raising the level of professionalism. The progress made in our sport over the years has been tremendous and it would not have been possible without Rolex elevating the bar.”

Having competed in the upper echelons of the sport for more than four decades, Pessoa decided to take his career in a new direction towards the end of 2016, turning his focus towards coaching and accepting the highly respected position as Irish Chef d’Equipe. In this role, he found himself mentoring young Irish rider Bertram Allen, Rolex’s youngest equestrian Testimonee. In the same way Nelson imparted his wisdom to Rodrigo, the latter now finds himself tutoring one of the sport’s most exciting prospects. Rolex’s partnerships with key figures in the equestrian community, such as Pessoa, Allen, and Werth, run across generations and continents, enabling knowledge and experience to be shared. Rolex is confident this process will perpetuate a cycle of renewed and enduring excellence, the benefits of which can already be seen through Pessoa’s rapid success as Ireland show jumping team manager, to give one example. Within a year of Pessoa taking the reins, an Irish team featuring Allen claimed team gold at the 2017 European Championships in Gothenburg. Coincidentally, Werth took gold in all three dressage categories she competed in at those Championships, once again highlighting Rolex’s wide-ranging support to top equestrian athletes.

YOUNG RIDERS ACADEMY

It is worth noting that these top competitors’ partner with Rolex not only when they are at the pinnacle of their careers, but also as aspiring riders striving to make their name in the sport. Allen, for example, is a graduate of the Young Riders Academy, an initiative supported by Rolex and the most prestigious training course available to young equestrian athletes. Since leaving the Academy, Allen joined the Rolex family of Testimonees and represents a new era of equestrian excellence. They serve as a reminder of Rolex’s long-standing support for human achievement, which can be traced back to the brand’s pioneering roots and is demonstrated by its creation of the world’s first waterproof wristwatch, the Rolex Oyster.

By nurturing young talent and supporting them as Testimonees on their journey to becoming champions, the Swiss watchmaker’s presence permeates all levels of the sport. The brand’s belief in unlimited human potential, in striving for continuous improvement, is embodied in a word inscribed on every Rolex Oyster watch. Perpetual. The important equestrian anniversaries being celebrated in 2019 highlight Rolex’s long-standing and continuing commitment to this elegant and historic sport.

Inside the Rolex Grand Slam: Special Youth Edition

Photo: Harry Charles.

This week, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has been catching up with the new generation in professional show jumping. Almost 40 years younger than some of their senior competitors, we took a look at how initiatives such as the Young Riders Academy and the introduction of U25 competitions at the Majors gives young riders the opportunity to break into the senior world.

Words from Harry Charles, young rising star of show jumping:

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Definitely competing in the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen; that has always been the dream of mine since I was small and to be able to do it was incredible. I still have to pinch myself that I have done it, to be honest with you. Sometimes when I am hacking with ABC Quantum Cruise at home, I look down and say to him, ‘can you believe that we jumped the Rolex Grand Prix at Aachen?’

Who are your idols / which riders do you look up to?

For me it has always been Scott (Brash). As well as great rider, he’s a really nice guy too so he is definitely my idol. We talk about everything actually and he is always willing to help me out and lend a hand. Especially when I started doing the big shows, he was always the first one who would come and sit with me at breakfast in the morning at the big shows when I didn’t know anyone, which I really appreciated.

The Rolex Grand Slam Majors are promoting youth by organizing more and more U25 competitions; what is your point of view on this?

I think it is great; any chance for a young rider to jump in a top-level event like any of these shows is massively important and influential. Being among the top riders with a big crowd is just amazing, not only to inspire and motivate young riders, but also for their exposure. For example, when I was in Aachen, so many people contacted me, and I think I gained about 400 followers on my social media platforms each day I was there. Taking part in these events really does give you drive, and although you may only be able to jump two classes, it makes you even more motivated at the idea of jumping more later down the line.

Words from Jos Verlooy, European Championship Bronze Medallist:

What do you think are the three most important attributes for being a professional show jumper?

Work ethic is number one for me and I think it is the same in all sports. You have to work hard in order to achieve your goals and you have to be willing to learn. It is also very important to have good people behind you who you trust. Finally, a good relationship with your owners is so important because the role of the owners has evolved so much.

What impact has your owner had on your career?

I have a very good owner and I am very lucky that I could keep riding Igor because a lot of people wanted to buy him. Our sport is not just about riding; it’s about finding the right horses and the right partnerships and that is where the importance of the owners come in; it really is a team effort.

You are almost 40 years younger than some of top riders who are still competing – what are the tools you need to have such a long career?

It’s hard to say, but definitely the most important thing is to have the right horse. Even if you’re 50 you can always learn and keep improving and I think if you have a good horse you can perform at the highest level whatever your age. I have a lot of respect for Ludger Beerbaum who has had an incredible year and always kept the right people behind him. It’s only until you’re in the sport that you realise how difficult it is to have the right horse, the right management, and the right team; you need all pieces in the puzzle, really.

Words from Karen Polle, Japanese rider:

Do you feel a responsibility to help grow the sport of show jumping in Asia?

I am really glad to see that the sport is growing in Asia. As a Japanese and Asian rider, I definitely feel a responsibility and want to play whatever part I can in expanding the sport. I think at least in Japan there is a big interest in horse racing, but not so much show jumping. I think the reason it’s not as popular yet is because it’s not quite as well-known, but I think once people learn how great show jumping is and how great the horses are, I do think it will become very popular. It is all about building awareness around the sport and I think with the Olympic Games coming up this is starting to happen, which is great. The Japanese eventing team is very strong, both individually and as a team. Also, they are hosting an Asian Championship in Thailand in December for the first time and that involves a lot of investment and infrastructure, so there definitely is a growing interest in the sport.

When did you decide you wanted to be a show jumper?

Probably when I was a junior. I competed in the US national jumper championships, and I went into it being a real under-dog. I had an amazing week and my horse was incredible and we ended up winning which was very special. After that I understood what it felt like to win and that’s when I knew I wanted to do show jumping. I thought to myself, if I work really hard, I could maybe achieve more. After that moment I just absolutely loved show jumping and it catapulted from there.

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