Scott Brash of GBR riding Hello Sanctos. Photos © Spruce Meadows Media Services.
Calgary, AB, Canada – September 13, 2015 – The 2015 Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament concluded with a momentous day of show jumping on Sunday, September 13, as Great Britain’s Scott Brash jumped to victory in the $1.5 Million CP International, presented by Rolex, riding superstar mount Hello Sanctos. Belgium’s Pieter Devos and Dylano placed second, and Brazil’s Pedro Veniss and Quabri de L Isle finished third. With the win, Brash became the first rider in history to conquer the challenging Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
One of the most prestigious grand prix events in the world, the CP International was the third and final leg in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Prior to his arrival at Spruce Meadows, Brash already made history by winning two consecutive legs of the challenge with victories at CHI Geneva in December followed by a second victory at CHIO Aachen a few months later. By topping the final grand prix event at Spruce Meadows, the rider took home the competition’s winning prize of $500,000 Canadian Dollars (the equivalent of about €350,000). He was then awarded an additional bonus of €1 million for winning all three events in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
The 29-year-old rider was almost speechless as the magnitude of his accomplishment sunk in. “To win the Rolex Grand Slam is every rider’s dream. I did not actually think it could be done,” Brash acknowledged. “This means everything to me.”
As he thought about the win, Brash gave credit to Hello Sanctos, the 13-year-old Belgian Sport Horse gelding (Quasimodo vd Molendreef x Nabe de Reve) that helped make his biggest dreams come true.
“When you target something for so long, and your whole team has put so much work and hard effort in, to actually come and achieve that dream and have it all pay off is just a wonderful feeling,” Brash expressed. “I do not think words can describe how I feel. I am ecstatic and I don’t think it has really sunk in just yet.”
“Sanctos is a horse of a lifetime,” he added. “I thought he was a little fresh in the first round and was not absolutely perfect, but the second round he was just unbelievable. He tried his heart out today. He is a privilege to work with and ride.”
Thirty-nine entries started in round one and the top twelve were then invited to return for round two in reverse order of penalties. The twelve that returned included ten clear rounds and two entries that entered carrying one time fault.
The difficult course set by Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios took its toll in round two. Yann Candele (CAN) riding Watermark Group’s First Choice 15 and Alex Borrin (FRA) aboard SARL C Epona’s Marlou des Etisses each came into the second round with one time fault and added to their totals. Candele added ten faults in round two to finish tenth overall and Borrin added 19 faults to place twelfth.
Richard Spooner (USA) was the first of ten clear entries to return in round two, and completed a fantastic four-fault trip to eventually place fourth aboard Show Jumping Syndication Intl.’s Cristallo. Wout Jan Van Der Schans (NED) was next to go aboard K.V. van den Berg and S.J. Kat’s Capetown with ten faults to finish in ninth place.
Pedro Veniss (BRA) followed with a clear trip over fences, but one fault on the clock. He eventually finished third based on his time from round one aboard Carmen Davrella de Aguilera’s Quabri De L Isle.
“I am so happy. This was my first time to Spruce Meadows,” Veniss said of his finish. “It was a dream for me to come to Spruce Meadows. We just won the Nations’ Cup yesterday, and now third in the grand prix, so I am a very happy man today.”
McLain Ward (USA) and HH Azur, owned by Double H Farm and Francois Mathy, were next to return and had a great round until one rail fell at the final fence and one time fault was added. The pair finished fifth overall on five faults total.
Romain Duguet (SUI) returned clear with Christiana Duguet’s Quorida de Treho but dropped four rails in the second course to place 11th. Pieter Devos (BEL) and Devos Stables’ Dylano then jumped into second place with one time fault and their time from round one.
Devos previously won the competition in 2013 aboard Candy, and was very happy with his result this year riding Dylano.
“I am just behind Scott, so it is not a shame I think,” Devos remarked. “I came out of the ring with one time fault and a few people told me that I might have to jump-off with Pedro, who also had one time fault. Really inside, I knew that it would not come to a jump-off for us because Scott still had to go. I am very delighted to be here again and to be second. I won one time, but I am really happy with my second place now. I am happy with my horse; he did a really good job today.”
Last year’s champions, Ian Millar (CAN) and Susan and Ariel Grange’s Dixson, were next to go with nine faults to place eighth. Beezie Madden (USA) and Abigail Wexner’s Cortes ‘C’ dropped two rails to place seventh, and Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Conrad de Hus, owned by Haras de Hus, also had eight faults in a faster first round time to take the sixth place prize.
Last to go, Brash had a lot at stake as he rode into the ring aboard Lord and Lady Harris and Lady P Kirkham’s Hello Sanctos. The world’s number one rider kept his cool and guided his talented mount to a beautiful clear round as the crowd exploded in applause. With the only double clear round, Brash won the biggest grand prix in the world and rode into history as the first rider to ever take the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
“I was just very focused on the course,” Brash said of his preparation. “I was here early this morning to walk. I must say, I think Leopoldo has done an absolutely fantastic job. It is easy for me to say that because I am sitting here as the winner. I think Spruce Meadows has a reputation of being a tough course, but I think that is really good. I think that is what makes it so unique. They always try to just get one double clear and for a course builder that is very difficult, but Leopoldo seems to deliver that year after year. My horse feels like he could do another round. He felt really, really good.”
Devos also praised Palacios on his course, stating, “It was two tough rounds, but the same with my horse that he came out after the second round and he felt like he could go again. I think that is very important. We know it is very tough here. It is a tradition; it is unique and it has to be like that, but the welfare of the horses is always important and it was very good today.”
The unique venue and challenging course of the CP International was the last in three very different competitions that Brash won in succession. When asked how he and Sanctos were able to jump so well in such different venues, Brash smiled, “That is a question for Sanctos really! He is an incredible horse. He has the mind of a human. To be able to win in a delicate ring like Geneva, then a big tough course like Aachen and then such a unique venue like Spruce Meadows – to do that on different horses is hard – but for the same horse to win all three is just incredible. You could go 20 or 30 years at least and it could probably never be done again. I think Sanctos deserves every bit of credit he is going to get for this. I think with age, he has gotten more comfortable with different rings and he has turned into a horse that can jump anywhere and do anything.”
With the conclusion of a phenomenal experience, Brash already has next year’s Grand Slam in mind and explained that he will try for the title again, along with aiming for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
“I will try and do both,” he laughed. “It is an incredible title to have to aim for, but the percentage chance of being able to win the three biggest grand prix in the world consecutively is very, very hard. We were told it was impossible. We will try again, but it is going to be very difficult. We will start again in Geneva. They are the best shows in the world, so every rider in the world wants to be at these three shows. Rio is in our plans too. We saved Sanctos a lot this year. I must say, he feels better than ever and we have high hopes for next year.”
Brash’s win concluded a fantastic week of competition at the 2015 Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament CSIO 5*. For full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.