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A dream comes true: Daniel Deusser and Killer Queen VDM win the €1.000.000 Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen

Sunday, 19 September 2021
CHIO Aachen 2021

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ "To win the Rolex Grand Prix here in Aachen, is a dream come true,” Daniel Deusser said. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



After an unforgettable afternoon of top sport at CHIO Aachen, Germany’s own Daniel Deusser and Killer Queen VDM (Eldorado v. Zeshoek x For Pleasure) were crowned the winners of the €1.000.000 Rolex Grand Prix – the third Major of this season’s Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. After being the best horse of the Sparkassen Youngster Cup in Aachen in 2018, then winning the RWE Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia in 2019, Killer Queen VDM took the most sought-after title of them all today with Deusser when topping the Rolex Grand Prix on what is holy ground for the world’s best horses and riders. An incredible triple clear from the only 20-year-old Brian Moggre (USA) and Balou du Reventon (Cornet Obolensky x Continue) gave them the second place, while Gregory Wathelet (BEL) – winner of the Rolex Grand Prix in 2017 – finished third with Nevados S (Calvados Z x Romualdo), also he triple clear. 

“This is definitely one of my top Grand Prix wins. To win the Rolex Grand Prix here in Aachen, is a dream come true,” world no. one Deusser said. “The Rolex Grand Prix is always something special. Of course, as a German it was my big goal to win here in Aachen. I came very close a couple of times. It is an emotional moment to be honest!”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Daniel Deusser and Killer Queen VDM en route to victory in the €1.000.000 Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

This year’s Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen was an absolute thriller, and with the crowds starved for top-level competition during 2020, the anticipation could be felt in the September-air as this classic in the showjumping calendar finally got underway in glorious autumn weather. 

The first-round track, set by Frank Rothenberger, was as expected a tough one. Out of the forty horse-and-rider combinations, twelve managed to jump clear rounds – and they were joined by another six riders on four faults for the second part of the Grand Prix. Set at 1.60m, counting thirteen fences and sixteen efforts, it was the last part of Rothenberger’s course that claimed most victims. The line on seven short or six forward strides from a triple bar to an upright proved tricky, and again and again the top pole on the vertical fell to the ground. The Rolex triple combination set at 12abc also caused plenty of trouble, especially the middle element – a very wide oxer with dark green poles. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The new the Rolex Grand Slam Live Contender: Daniel Deusser with Killer Queen VDM. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

As fifth to go, Philipp Schulze Topphoff (GER) made it explode at Soers when posting the first clear round aboard his lovely Concordess NRW (Congress 4 x Acobat 3) – and the home crowds got more to cheer for as Gerrit Nieberg, Daniel Deusser and former Aachen Grand Prix winner Christian Ahlmann also delivered. They were joined by heavyweights such as Olympic gold medallists Ben Maher (GBR) and Explosion W (Chacco-Blue x Baloubet du Rouet), Live Contender Steve Guerdat (SUI) and Venard de Cerisy (Open Up Semilly x Djalisco du Guet), an elated Patricio Pasquel (MEX), as well as young gun Brian Moggre, former Aachen Grand Prix winners Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Scott Brash (GBR), as well as Laura Kraut (USA) and Jerome Guery (BEL).

Only six riders managed to repeat their clean sheet in round two, to make it to the jump-off. The first of those was Deusser and his 11-year-old mare, who made light work of Rothenberger’s tricky twelve-fence track – that this time included another demanding triple combination as well as the double of Liverpools coming down the final line. For Live Contender Steve Guerdat, the dream of another Major victory unfortunately ended with a very unlucky rail down on the penultimate vertical while Jerome Guery secured a jump-off when posting the second double clear with his faithful Quel Homme de Hus (Quidam de Revel x Candillo). Gregory Wathelet had a bit of luck on the last Rolex oxer, but made it three for the third round against the clock with his wonderful Nevados S – and clear rounds followed in succession from Laura Kraut on Baloutinue (Balou du Rouet x Landor S), Ben Maher on Explosion, Scott Brash on Hello Jefferson (Cooper vd Heffinck x Irco Mena) and Brian Moggre on Balou du Reventon. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ 20-year-old Brian Moggre has been the sensation of this year's CHIO Aachen, winning the Mercedes-Benz Nations Cup and finishing second in the Rolex Grand Prix with the incredible Balou du Reventon. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Being first to go in the jump-off, Deusser had no easy task ahead of him but nevertheless posted another beautiful round – going clear in 41.85 seconds, getting a fantastic turn to the third last vertical. Guery did not have luck on his side, and a rail fell on the first fence – but for his compatriot Wathelet it worked out and he slotted in one second behind Deusser when going clear in 42.83. Kraut had a lightning fast round, but had a pole on the second oxer down while Maher was caught out by the b-element in the double as was his compatriot Brash. With Moggre left as the only one who could threaten Deusser, the spectators were kept at the edge of their seats to the very end. Full of confidence, Moggre set off with his stunning stallion but crossing the finish line he was just slightly too slow – settling for an impressive second place in his Aachen-debut with a time of 42.16 and pushing Wathelet down to third place. 

“Going first in the jump-off, I did what was possible for me,” Deusser detailed after his win. “At the beginning I thought it was maybe not an advantage to go first because I did not see anyone going. I did not know how many strides, or what everyone else would do. Afterwards, I think it was maybe good to go first and put pressure on the other ones. My horse did a fantastic job today. It was just enough today.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ "I love him so much!” Moggre said of Balou du Reventon. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“I have to say, with the circumstances we had a fantastic show here again,” Deusser smiled when speaking about being back in Aachen after the Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to last year’s edition. “Even with only 50% of the public, I think I can speak on behalf of all the riders that we love to compete with the crowds again. Thanks to Frank Kemperman and his team and especially thanks to Rolex for organising a show like this!”

Like Deusser, Moggre was smiling from ear to ear. “I’m thrilled to be honest!” Moggre said. “My horse Balou du Reventon, owned by Ann Thompson, is the most amazing horse I have ever had in my short life. To compete in Aachen has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid, watching the videos from your room you see the Olympics and you see the Aachen Grand Prix; I always wanted to be here so I am just so thankful. I wanted to have a really positive experience, and my horse said: ‘Let’s not make it a positive one, let’s make it an awesome one!’ I love him so much!”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Third place went to Gregory Wathelet and Nevados S. "My horse was amazing," the Belgian rider said after being triple clear. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“To be honest I would like to sit there again,” Wathelet joked with reference to Deusser’s place in the middle as the winner. “I know that feeling, and it’s the best Grand Prix to win. But I’m happy, my horse was amazing, and the two others were just better than me today.”

After giving it a few shots, Deusser is finally the Rolex Grand Slam Live Contender. “The Rolex Grand Slam is a part of our history, so if you have a very good horse you wish to win a Major one time – or even a second one!” Deusser smiled. “So far, I have never been in a position of winning one of the four Majors, but I am really looking forward to try my best in the next three stages,” he closed off – with a nod towards CHI Geneva that will take place in December, hosting the fourth and last Major of the year.  



No reproduction without written permission, copyright on all images © World of Showjumping

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