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CHI Geneva: A star-studded line-up

Wednesday, 01 December 2021
CHI Geneva 2021

The number of entries for the Concours Hippique International de Genève (CHIG) grows with every passing year, a reflection of its continuing appeal to drivers and riders. And once again, the very best of them will be at Palexpo this year, with over 100 athletes from 22 nations taking part in the jumping, indoor cross-country, and Driving World Cup events.

With competition sure to be fierce at what is the 60th CHIG, to be held on 9-12 December 2021, spectators can look forward to some excellent sport. The world’s leading riders will be lining up for the jumping events, where Swedish duo Peder Fredricson and Henrik von Eckermann will top the bill. Reigning Olympic team champions and respectively ranked first and third in the world, they will be looking to shine in the 20th Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final, an event that has yet to see a Scandinavian winner. Germany’s Daniel Deusser, the world No. 2 and the winner of this year’s Grand Prix of Aachen, has his sights set on winning the Rolex Grand Prix (on Sunday 12 December) and pocketing the bonus that will come with it. Joining him in the German ranks will be Christian Kukuk and David Will – both team silver medallists at the recent European Championships in Riesenbeck – and the ever-present Christian Ahlmann.

Partnered by the brilliant Explosion W, the horse he rode to Olympic individual gold at Tokyo 2020, Great Britain’s Ben Maher is also honouring the organisers with his presence. His compatriot, Scott Brash – the only rider ever to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping – will also be in attendance. Heading up the US contingent will be Kent Farrington, who will be joined by multiple Olympic and World Championship medallist Laura Kraut and Jessica Springsteen, who has been in impressive form throughout the indoor season. France will be represented by six riders, among them 2017 Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final winner Kevin Staut and Roger-Yves Bost. Brazil’s Pedro Veniss, who starred at Palexpo aboard Quabri de L’Isle at the 2016 Rolex Grand Prix, will also be lining up. A Selle Français stallion, Quabri de L’Isle will be making his final competitive appearance here in Geneva, as will Eric Lamaze’s mount, Fine Lady V, who partnered the Canadian to Olympic individual jumping bronze at Rio 2016.

Hosts in fine fettle

Selected by national head coach Michel Sorg, the Swiss team contains some solid performers, among them newly crowned European team champions Martin Fuchs, who also won individual silver in Riesenbeck, Steve Guerdat, Bryan Balsiger, and Elian Baumann. They will joined by a clutch of promising riders, including Edouard Schmitz and Elin Ott. The riders of French-speaking Switzerland will also be there in number, with no fewer than 12 taking part.

The next generation of jumping stars will have their own CSI, with three events on the card, among them the Grand Prix Land Rover on Saturday 11 December. A total of 28 athletes will be taking part, including nine young Swiss hopefuls, who will be trying to glean as much experience as they can at the largest indoor jumping arena in the world, all in front of a crowd known for its passion and enthusiasm.

An Olympic indoor cross-country event in all but name

There are a host of other disciplines on the CHIG programme for equestrian sports lovers to enjoy, among them indoor cross-country, presented by La Tribune de Genève. And once again, the best will be there. Germany’s Michael Jung, the most successful event rider of them all, will be coming up against some very motivated competitors, not least Karim Laghouag (FRA), Olympic team champion at Rio 2016. The winner of the 2019 event, Ireland’s Cathal Daniels, will be intent on defending his title, while Australia’s Andrew Hoy, a 62-year-old veteran of eight Olympic Games, will attempt to demonstrate that age is no impediment to success in equestrian sports. Representing Switzerland, Olympians Robin Godel and Mélody Johner – the country’s leading rider at Tokyo 2020 – will both hope to shine in what is an exclusive event.

Victory no. 12 for Boyd Exell?

The CHIG will stage the only Swiss leg of the 2021/22 Driving World Cup season. Six drivers have entered the event – presented by Radio Télévision Suisse – and heading the field is the indefatigable Boyd Exell, who is undefeated at Palexpo since 2008. Victorious in the season opener in Lyon, the Australian is clearly the man to beat in Geneva, though Belgium’s Dries Degrieg, who placed second in Lyon and is making his first trip here, and Bram Chardon of the Netherlands will have something to say about that. Switzerland’s Jérôme Voutaz and his quartet of Franches-Montagnes will make another bid for glory in an event that has always eluded them, despite having the most vocal of supporters’ clubs.

An anniversary well worth marking

An exciting show celebrating the 60th CHIG will be staged not once but twice: on the Saturday evening and again at midday on the Sunday. As well as a 20-minute film showcasing highlights from the event over the years and interviews and archive images, it will feature a stunning dressage display put on by the Pignon and Delgado families – two great names on the international scene – and a parade in honour of the event’s volunteers.



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