This year’s edition of CHI Geneva sees some big changes; can you tell us a little bit about what this year’s version of the event will look like?
"2013 was indeed a year of change for us. After 35 years and due to the new sponsor of the World Cup, we decided to retire from this circuit. It was not an easy decision but it was clear that we would remain loyal to Rolex, our title sponsor for over 17 years. We consequently had to think about something new for our sport. We therefore met with the organisers of Aachen and Spruce Meadows and together created a new concept. The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping was born. We are so proud to be associated with such great events! Three shows and for the riders the possibility to win a bonus of 1 million of euros, what a big challenge! And of course, thanks to Rolex to have at once supported our idea!
In addition to this new class, the spectators will have the opportunity to see classes such as the Credit Suisse Grand Prix, the third Champions' challenge© [a class made in Geneva which gets champions and challengers together], or else the six-bars, a knock-out, a combination class or a relay ponies/horses. And of course, the driving World Cup circuit."
Even though the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping is new this year, it seems that it already is established as showjumping’s ‘icing on the cake’ – how honored is CHI Geneva to be one of the three organizers of this series and what does it mean for the show to host the third and final leg of the season?
"We are really proud to be part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. It is a great opportunity for the CHI Geneva and also a new era for the equestrian sports. The Rolex Grand Slam allows the public, the media, the sponsors as well as the riders a simple comprehension of the class; the name "Grand Slam" sufficing to demonstrate the high level of this competition. In addition, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping allows for extensive visibility across the media whether written, radios and TV. It is fabulous for Geneva to benefit from sharing this experience with the two major events of our sport, working with them hand in hand to bring show jumping to a new level."
The CHI Geneva is considered to be one of the best shows in the world, what kind of machinery does it take to run an event like this?
"There is a committee of 34 people who work all year round. The majority of them, volunteers.
4 people are employed and work in our office. In addition, 700 volunteers complete the team during the 4 days of the show. They are so important for us and are clearly the soul of our event. Each year, I am impressed by their enthusiasm and passion!"
What kind of showjumpers can we expect to see in Geneva this year?
"We are really happy to welcome notably 18 riders of the Top 20 ! Scott Brash, Ben Maher, Ludger Beerbaum, Meredith Michaels-Berbaum, Kevin Staut, Patrice Delaveau, Roger-Yves Bost, Rodrigo Pessoa, Éric Lamaze, etc... And of course the darling of our public, Steve Guerdat ! They will all be there!"
Steve Guerdat’s amazing mare Jalisca Solier will be thanked off during the show, can you give us a few hints as to what to expect from the ceremony?
"This ceremony will take place after the Champions' challenge Saturday evening. I can definitely say that there will be a lot of emotion! But as Steve said during our last press conference, "it will be tears of joy not of sadness". Jalisca won such great classes during our Show [Grand Prix Rolex in 2006, Top 10 in 2010], she deserves this moment! And I am sure that we will live a thrilling moment!"
What can we expect from the Swiss crowds this year; will there be a full house in Palexpo?
"We have really enthusiastic spectators [40'000 during the show], such as the young people with banners in the grandstands. Each year, they provide a special atmosphere to our show. We are almost sold out Saturday and Sunday [a week before the show]. There are places remaining for Thursday and Friday... Notice to the latecomers!"
For you as a show director – what will be the highlight during this year’s edition of CHI Geneva?
"It is hard to say, each day has its individual highlight... For the sport, the Rolex Grand Slam on Sunday and for the emotion the ceremony for Jalisca."
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