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Inside CHIO Aachen: Rolex Rider Watch

Friday, 20 July 2018
CHIO Aachen 2018

Photo (c) Rolex / Kit Houghton McLain Ward riding Clinta, winner of the Prize of North Rhine-Westfalia. Photo (c) Rolex / Kit Houghton.

The second Rolex Grand Prix qualifier at CHIO Aachen, the Prize of North Rhine-Westfalia, was won by USA’s McLain Ward in speedy fashion, finishing at the top of the leaderboard in 46.95 secs, shaving nearly two seconds off his closest rival, Kevin Staut, who took second place. McLain paid tribute to his stunning 11-year-old mare, Clinta, following his victory: 

Can you tell us about Clinta? 

I purchased her in February this year, I actually tried her for the first time right after Aachen last year. She performed really well here, and we were very impressed by her. We started competing together in Florida, in March, and the partnership felt fantastic right from the beginning, she won the first 5* Grand Prix in New York and the 4* in Devon, so we have certainly had a great start together. We are so excited for her career, she is a really spectacular jumper, she is as careful as any horse I have ever ridden and I think we are going to have a bright future. 

Who will you be riding in the Rolex Grand Prix? 

I will be riding HH Azur in the Rolex Grand Prix, Clinta will jump the big class tomorrow and that will be her last for the week. I am so lucky to have two such amazing horses here, they are both brilliant. They are slightly different in character – Azur has an ease and a blood, an athleticism about her, you can see it in the way she stands, Clinta is a bit quicker, moves a bit faster and her jump is a little more dynamic. The similarity between the two, is they have that wonderful quality of giving everything they have to you. 

Do you feel extra pressure competing at one of the four Majors that make up the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping? 

I have extra pressure on myself as it’s the last big Grand Prix of the world I haven’t won, and I would like to get my name on that wall before I retire. So that’s my drive, I want to win here for sure, so we will do our best, hopefully have some good fortune and we will be in for a chance on Sunday afternoon.

Exclusive interview with: Israel's Daniel Bluman, ahead of the Rolex Grand Prix

Photo (c) Rolex / Kit Houhgton Daniel Bluman. Photo (c) Rolex / Kit Houhgton.

How’s your experience of Aachen so far this weekend? 

It’s been really good, it’s an unbelievable place to be at. Already from the get go, with the Turkish Airlines Prize of Europe on Wednesday which is a qualifier for the Rolex Grand Prix, Ladriano Z jumped really well, she finished in the rankings, which allowed us to qualify for the Grand Prix on Sunday, so the week has been fantastic so far. 

Who do you think your biggest competition on Sunday is? 

That’s pretty much an impossible question right now as the level of riders in the world is incredible, you have Eric Lamaze, who is first of all one of my mentors and an idol, he is strong, he has been really good in the last few months. But then again, you have Steve Guerdat who is fantastic, you have Philipp Weishaupt and the rest of the German crew who are doing great, Marcus Ehning etc. the list goes on. There are so many people with unbelievable talent, it will be a tough competition and I think anyone can take it.

Behind the Stable Door With: Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum’s groom, Anu Harrila

Photo (c) Rolex / Kit Houghton Anu Harrila, groom to Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. Photo (c) Rolex / Kit Houghton.

You’ve worked with Meredith for a very long time, what are your favourite parts of the job?

My favourite part of the job is working with the horses. I have worked with a lot of horses over the last 20 years and there are always a few that stick with you and have a special place in your heart. I am so lucky to work with such amazing horses, so that’s definitely the best part. Meredith is lovely to work for, I know her inside out now, so it works seamlessly, and I think we are a great team.

As a team, do you feel extra pressure when competing at one of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Majors?

There is always pressure when it is a Rolex Grand Slam Major because obviously you want to do well. Here now in Aachen, it’s Germany, in front of a home crowd and there's a lot of prize money at stake. 

If you weren’t a groom, what would you be? 

I honestly don’t know. I can’t imagine doing anything else, I guess I have my dream job.

 


Press release from the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping

Pictures © Kit Houghton

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