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DSP Chakaria makes a lifetime dream come true for Andre Thieme with a win in the €1.5 million Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen

Sunday, 07 July 2024
CHIO Aachen 2024

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ “She already gave me so much. So many moments that were special, but it's just definitely different here in Aachen," Andre Thieme said as DSP Chakaria won him the €1.5 million Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen. All photos © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



Germany’s Andre Thieme and his horse of a lifetime DSP Chakaria (Chap 47 x Askari 173) wrote history on Sunday afternoon as they won the €1.5 million Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen – one of the four Majors in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

“I had very emotional moments before with that mare,” Thieme said after his victory, visibly touched. “She already gave me so much. So many moments that were special, but it's just definitely different here in Aachen. Two years ago, when I was part of the team that won the Nation Cup here, I was last to go and I had to be clear and I was clear and we won – that was already something I will never forget. But of course, the Grand Prix of Aachen, I said it now already a few times, is every rider’s lifetime dream – most riders never even get close to that. So, that's for me what makes it so extra special. This is really a dream and if I would be two years older, I would probably say ‘I'm done now’,” Thieme laughed. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ With three clear rounds, Germany's own Andre Thieme and DSP Chakaria won the €1.5 million Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen.

The tracks for the Rolex Grand Prix were as per tradition designed by Frank Rothenberger (GER), who served the 40 horse-and-rider combinations that had qualified a tough nut to crack in round one. The first and second element of the triple combination – 9a an upright followed by one stride to an oxer at 9b fronted by a delicate white plank – caused plenty of trouble with many of the horses getting a bit flat coming in on a distance of seven or eight strides, while the very last Rolex oxer at no. 13 also caused agony as several clipped either the front or the back rail as they made their final effort on the demanding course.

The first to produce a clear round was José María Larocca (ARG) and Abril Iconthon (Conthargos x Clinton), and immediately after last year’s Grand Prix-winner Marcus Ehning (GER) delivered a text-book clear aboard Coolio 42 (Casalito x Quidam de Revel) – with a sold-out Soers exploding in appreciation. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ USA's McLain Ward and Ilex finished second.

It took another fourteen horse-and-rider combinations before another clear came, this time from Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) and Denver de Talma (Vigo Cece x Canturo*Bois Margot). When Andre Thieme and his 2021 European champion DSP Chakaria posted the next clear on behalf of the hosts, the crowds went wild, and the Belgians also contributed with loud celebrations as Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) and Katanga vh Dingeshof (Cardento x Tornedo FCS) kept all the fences up as well.

Four more horse-and-rider combinations followed with clear rounds to make it a total of nine on a clean sheet going into round two: Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Leone Jei (Baltic VDL x Corland) – winners of the 2021 Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva and the 2023 Rolex Grand Prix of Spruce Meadows, Richard Vogel (GER) and United Touch (Untouched x Lux Z) – winners of the 2023 Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva, McLain Ward (USA) and Ilex (Baltic VDL x Chin Chin) – the American rider a winner of the 2022 Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva and the 2023 Rolex Grand Prix of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, as well as Kendra Claricia Brinkop (GER) who yet again impressed with the only 9-year-old Tabasco de Toxandria Z (Thunder vd Zuuthoeve x Cento Lano). 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The third place went to Germany's Richard Vogel and United Touch S.

Joining these nine clears for round two were nine riders on four faults, as eighteen horse-and-rider combinations returned to face yet another tough track with Rothenberger’s signature – this time consisting of a total of twelve fences and fifteen efforts.

First of those on a clean sheet to make it a double clear were McLain Ward and Ilex, who made Rothenberger’s track look like a walk in the park. A jump-off was secured straight after, when Martin Fuchs posted a second clear with his trusted partner Leone Jei – although the Swiss rider had to work a bit harder than Ward to get out of the infamous double of ditches, which this time were the last part of the triple combination at 7abc with an oxer coming in. 

For title-defender Marcus Ehning it was not to be when Coolio 42 agonizingly clipped the top rail on the last Rolex upright with a collective gasp going through the entire Soers. However, the home hopes got boosted when Andre Thieme piloted his feisty chestnut mare DSP Chakaria to another clear – joining the jump-off. And when crowd-favourites Richard Vogel and United Touch S made light work of the twelve-fence track to go clear, the sound level at Soers reached new heights – the flying German would be last to go in the four-horse jump-off, which would be a clash of titans.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The incredibly consistent Leone Jei jumped to a fourth place with Switzerland's Martin Fuchs.

First back in for the jump-off, McLain Ward put pressure on the three with a clear round in 41.02 seconds. However, with three notoriously fast combinations coming behind him, the American rider had left the door slightly ajar. As next in, Martin Fuchs showed the time could be bettered, but when the back rail on the penultimate Mercedes-Benz oxer hit the ground the Swiss rider had to add four faults to his 39.03 seconds. 

As Andre Thieme entered the ring, the German spectators crept forwards on their seats in anticipation. And the German rider did not disappoint his many fans; blazing around the shortened track cheered on by the crowds, Chakaria gave her all to her rider and when the two crossed the finish line the roars could be heard over the German border – the clock showed 39.77 seconds and Thieme had taken the lead. 

Last to go, Richard Vogel had the chance of his life to write history on home soil at the legendary venue. And he got as close as one can get, even celebrating in the landing as the clock was ticking towards his 38.64 seconds – but as he turned around with his fist punching the air, the top rail of the last Rolex upright was already on its way down to the holy grass of Aachen as United Touch S had clipped it out of the cups with the hindlegs, handing the €500.000 victory to Thieme. Ward finished second, Vogel third and Fuchs fourth. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ "I think the risk to the last two jumps and her quickness made it happen," Thieme told about his winning jump-off with DSP Chakaria.

“I knew I was behind,” Thieme said about the start of his jump-off, as he had to add on the lines where Ward did leave-outs. “But, I also knew that she's quick on the ground and I knew I can turn really quick. And I also knew she does not lose too much time in the air. So, I knew it's not over yet. And then I got a pretty good first distance angle on that red vertical. Then I did nine strides, which I really was not happy about because there I really wanted to do eight and I got a little careful and I thought ‘ohh somehow she's not taking me enough’. She got really careful and backed off. And then when I came through that combination, I knew now I only have the last two jumps left and I have to go for it otherwise I'm definitely going to stay behind McLain. So, I turned, I think, really short and it worked out perfect. And then, I don't know what number I did to the last jump, but it felt like not good – the whole time I thought ‘I'm not going to get there’. But, somehow I got there and she cleared it and I think the risk to the last two jumps and her quickness made it happen.”

“I said many times that I love her just like my wife,” Thieme said of his incredible mare. “My wife totally understands, and she likes her also…” Thieme joked. “Especially when I come home now with this prize check!”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ “She is a once-in-a-lifetime horse for me," Thieme said of his 14-year-old chestnut mare.

“She is a once-in-a-lifetime horse for me. She made so many things happen in our lives. We had so many unbelievable moments, unbelievable wins all over the world, European individual champions – but this of course, the Grand Prix of Aachen, for me I thought I would never ever have a chance ever!”

Second-placed Ward has a relatively new partnership with Ilex, who he started to compete at the beginning of the year, and everything taken into consideration he was not too disappointed with missing out on the win. “I have to say, that I thought this morning that if I was ahead of Richi it was good enough,” Ward joked. “And then it would finally be mine… This Grand Prix has definitely eluded me. I mean, certainly going first with this level of competition is a challenge, and it’s actually only the second jump-off I have ridden this horse in,” he explained. 

“He did everything exactly the way I planned,” Ward said of Ilex. “In hindsight, I could have done eight to the last pretty easily, but I had a fade-out and then it felt slow. The horse was jumping better the last round than in the first, so you always kick yourself a little bit, but Andre took a great risk and it paid off and you know that's great sport. I can't be disappointed with anything other than that you certainly would like to win.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Andre Thieme in front of the legendary Winners' Wall in Aachen.

“I thought he jumped outstanding,” third-placed Vogel said of United Touch. “I had a plan for the jump-off, and I actually went through the plan right before I went in with McLain and was confident about it and everything worked out well enough. So, I thought I can give myself a little breath before the last. I thought I didn't take all the risk to the last and I was still quite sure the time was good enough. And then he was over the fence in front, but not behind yet… touched it slightly behind and we had a rail. I was sure the luck is on our side so…. But, that is not taking anything away. We're more than happy, especially with how my horse jumped and all the success the rest of the week.”

Thieme is now the new live contender in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, as the prestigious series heads towards its next Major at Spruce Meadows, Calgary, Canada, in September. 



7.7.2024 No reproduction of any of the content in this article will be accepted without a written permission, all rights reserved © World of If copyright violations occur, a penalty fee will apply. 

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