British showjumper Nick Skelton is taking on the Rolex Grand Slam after winning the Grand Prix with Big Star at the World Equestrian Festival at Aachen.
To win the Rolex Grand Slam, he must now win the GP events at the CSIO 5* Spruce Meadows Masters (September 5-9) and the CHI Geneva in succession, which will bring an additional €1 million in prize money.
“The Rolex Grand Slam is a fantastic initiative. Now, things are going to get really exciting for me,” Skelton said after his victory in Aachen.
Second place went to Janika Sprunger from Switzerland, who like Patrice Delaveau from France (third place) made it into the jump-off. Daniel Deusser, who came fourth, was the best German rider. Unfortunately, he picked up one fault for exceeding the time in the first round. Christian Ahlmann, who jumped clear in the first round, collected four faults in the second round, so neither made it into the jump-off.
Forty horse and rider combinations qualified for the class, and the first round saw eight go clear. The format of the competition dictates that numbers reduce to 18 for the second round, and faults were carried forward.
Writing history seems to be in Skelton’s blood – he is the the scond rider (together with Piero d´Inzeo) to win the Grand Prix in Aachen four times.
His first title was in 1982 when riding Everest if Ever, and he has had subsequent victories in 1987 and 1988 riding Raffles Apollo.
“My first win here was a long time ago; Janika probably wasn’t even born then, but although I am getting on a bit it’s all about your horse and how good a horse you have. I’m lucky that I’ve got a good horse and can keep going.
“Of course, it is not going to be easy to win the Rolex Grand Slam, namely heading the field in the three first-class shows in Aachen, Calgary and Geneva in a row. But who knows – perhaps I can simply carry on where I have left on in Aachen,” Skelton said.
He described his win on Big Star as “an absolute dream”. Sunday was the final day of the festival, and 40,000 spectators turned out to watch the show in the sold-out stadium.
Reigning World Champion Boyd Exell has won the prestigious CAIO Aachen for the sixth time in his career and has taken the lead of the FEI World Cup Driving qualification standings.
Koos de Ronde (NED) was runner up, and the leader of the individual standings before the marathon Chester Weber (USA) finished third. The Dutch team won the gold medal for the seventh time in a row.
Exell finished second behind Chester Weber in the individual and team dressage. Although Australia did not field a team, the team dressage and cones were compulsory for all individual competitors. Exell secured a score of 34,80 penalty points in the dressage test with the beautiful black horses owned by the Hungarian Támas Vincze and drove a double clear round in the cones course. The difference with dressage winner Chester Weber was only 2.41 points before the marathon in which the competitors started in reverse order of merit.
The marathon footing had become heavy because of the rain during the previous night and on the morning before the competition, but all 25 drivers and their horses finished without major problems. By setting top scores in the majority of the eight challenging obstacles, Exell gradually overtook the overnight leader. By the time both drivers had crossed the finish line, they knew Exell had won Aachen for the fifth time in a row and for the sixth time overall in his exceptional career as a four-in-hand driver.
The team competition was won by the Dutch reigning World Champion team consisting of Koos de Ronde, Theo Timmerman and IJsbrand Chardon, for him this was not the best Aachen experience. Because of several injuries, the four-time World Champion started without three of his top horses and was twice the drop score. But Koos de Ronde and Theo Timmerman were very strong and secured the gold medal, much to the satisfaction of national coach Harry de Ruyter.
The German team, led by Georg von Stein, finished second ahead of the Swedish team. Double World Champion Tomas Eriksson competed for the 30 and possibly last time in Aachen this year as he has not been able to find a sponsor to help him to continue the sport.
After taking the sixth place in dressage, lady driver Georgina Hunt-Frith recorded the second best individual result, taking 10th place in the overall standings with her impressive team of beautifully turned out black KWPN geldings.
CAIO Aachen was one of the 14 outdoor competitions held in Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, The Netherlands, and Slovenia which serve as qualifiers for the indoor FEI World Cup Driving. The top ten drivers after the last competition will qualify for the series 2013-2014 season, which starts in Hannover (GER) on 17 October.
Reporting: Cindy Timmer
Individual results CAIO Aachen 2013:
1. Boyd Exell AUS 118.46
2. Koos de Ronde NED 124.81
3. Chester Weber USA 125.78
4. Georg von Stein GER 135.15
5. Theo Timmerman NED 136.93
Team results CAIO Aachen 2013:
1. The Netherlands 262.84
2. Germany 270.11
3. Sweden 286.77