The Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen turned out to be the thriller it should be, and the German crowds could cheer for a home winner: Philipp Weishaupt! A rather surprising win, as Weishaupt's horse LB Convall (Colman x Cascavelle) is only 9-years-old and the Grand Prix of Aachen was only his third five-star Grand Prix. With no double clears, and a dramatic climax for Switzerland's Martin Fuchs as well as Dutch rider Gerco Schröder – Aachen was historical again.
None of the 40 world-class riders could deliver a clear round in the huge first round of the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen, built by Germany's acclaimed course designer Frank Rothenberger. The time allowed of only 84 seconds played a major role as well, and only twelve riders stayed inside the time allowed and none of them left the 1.60m obstacles untouched.
Germany's Philipp Weishaupt was first to go in the Grand Prix, and immediately delivered one of the best results with LB Convall (Colman x Cascavelle). In a very nicely ridden round, Philipp and his grey stallion finished on only two time penalties. As ninth to go in the first round, Dutch rider Gerco Schröder fought his way through the track aboard his powerful gelding Glock's Cognac Champblanc (Clearway x Caretino). Since Cognac is not a naturally fast horse, Gerco really had to keep the time allowed in mind and did everything he could to finish within 84 seconds. But, unfortunately Gerco's brilliant round concluded with one time penalty.
When even big-time-favorites McLain Ward and HH Azur (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Sir Lui) could not deliver a clear round, it became clear that the course was something very serious. McLain had a rail on the second part of the triple combination 13abc, which came down no less than ten times in the first round. Canada's Tiffany Foster truly had a beautiful round on Triple X III (Namelus R x Catango Z), only to knock down the final Rolex vertical. Switzerland's talented Martin Fuchs gave his 10-year-old Clooney (Cornet Obolensky x Ferragamo) a brilliant ride as well and finished on only a time penalty – the same result as Gerco Schröder.
Switzerland's Steve Guerdat, contender for the Rolex Grand Slam, could not keep a clean sheet either. Corbinian (Cornet Obolensky x Pilot) jumped fantastic, until the first part of the liverpool double at 9ab. After knocking down this fence, Corbinian got a little tense – just like Steve Guerdat described him in the Rolex-interview earlier this week. The third part of the triple combination came down as well for Guerdat and Corbinian, and the two finished on nine penalties.
The extremely tall vertical at fence ten also caused many problems, falling to the ground ten times as well in the first round. Great Britain's Scott Brash aboard Ursula XII (Ahorn x Papageno), USA's Beezie Madden riding Cortes 'C' (Randel Z x Darco) and Germany's Marcus Ehning with Pret A Tout (Hiram Chambertin x Stew Boy) all lost their clean sheet here. France's Roger Yves Bost had an unfortunate start of his round with Quod'Coeur de la Loge (Ideal de la Loge x Tenor de la Cour) knocking down fence number 2. After this, 'Bosty' jumped a wonderful round without faults, finishing on four.
Although the second round was as big as it gets as well, many managed to deliver a clear round. With a fast clear round in 70.28 seconds, Great Britain's Scott Brash managed to put himself and Ursula XII in the lead with only Philipp Weishaupt, Martin Fuchs and Gerco Schröder to go. Sergio Alvarez Moya had a brilliant clear round on Carlo (Contender x Cascavelle) as well, finishing in 70.69 seconds
The pressure was on Philipp Weishaupt, who could take over the lead when he delivered a clear. His very promising LB Convall showed top form again and Philipp kept his cool as well, finishing on a clean sheet. With only two penalties out of the first round, Philipp took over the lead. Then it was Switzerland's Martin Fuchs' turn. His 10-year-old grey gelding Clooney jumped flawless and everything pointed towards a clear. But then drama occured as the pair was approaching the last fence – a big Rolex oxer built away from the in-gate. Clooney decided to not jump the final oxer; he seemed to grab the bit and just ran right past it. Somehow, Fuchs managed to get him over the fence in the end, but it already was too late. The Swiss rider finished on nine penalties, seeing his victory in the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen fall to pieces.
Dutch rider Gerco Schröder was the last rider to go, and the only one who could still take the victory from Philipp Weishaupt or even turn it into a jump-off if he finished on a time penalty. But although Gerco and Glock's Cognac Champblanc N.O.P. showed great form, they knocked down the oxer number 10. “We jumped fence nine with the triple bar with quite some rhythm, so I thought we could make a forward six strides to oxer number 10. But we were too far away from it and although Cognac tried his heart out, we knocked it down,” a disappointed Gerco Schröder stated afterwards.
Philipp Weishaupt was crowned the winner of the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen with family Liebherr's LB Convall and won the enormous amount of prize money: 330.000 Euro. In September, Philipp Weishaupt will get the chance to secure a bonus of the Rolex Grand Slam in the Rolex Grand Prix of Spruce Meadows, Calgary. Switzerland's Steve Guerdat will still have a chance to win a bonus in September as well.
Text © World of Showjumping by Peter van der Waaij // All pictures © Jenny Abrahamsson
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