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Emotional win for Marcus Ehning in the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen

Sunday, 02 July 2023
CHIO Aachen 2023

A triumphant triple at Soers for the German ace

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ For the third time in his long and illustrious career, Germany’s own Marcus Ehning won the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen – this time with Stargold. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



For the third time in his long and illustrious career, Germany’s own Marcus Ehning won the prestigious Grand Prix of Aachen. Ehning first won the Grand Prix in 2006 with Nolte’s Kühengirl at the age of 32, then again in 2018 with Pret A Tout and today it was Stargold (Stakkato Gold x Lord Weingard) that the German maestro piloted to victory. 

“It can never get old! It’s so amazing, with this crowd and the way it went as last to go. It was incredible!” Ehning said about his third Grand Prix win in Aachen – which today had a total prize money of 1.500.000 Euro, with 500.000 going to the winner.

“I think you could see me,” Ehning smiled when asked which emotions ran through him as he realized he was the winner of the Rolex Grand Prix – one of four Majors in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. “I can’t really describe what it feels like, also I was not really sure; I saw the 45sec but not the end of my time, but then it was a .1 behind – and that's when I realized!” 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Marcus Ehning and Stargold, winners of the 2023 Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen – one of four Majors in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Over the week in Aachen, forty world-class riders had managed to qualify for the Rolex Grand Prix so as expected Frank Rothenberger’s tracks were no walk in the park. While French pathfinders Olivier Perreau and GL Events Dorai d'Aiguilly (Kannan x Toulon) made Rothenberger’s first-round fourteen-fence track look deceptively easy when jumping a clear round, it soon became apparent that this was not the case.

Causing trouble was the first element of the double at 4ab, a yellow oxer with a water tray beneath, as did the super short distance of two strides between two uprights followed by one stride out over a big oxer at 12abc. However, the final line of four long or five short strides from a vertical to a Rolex oxer was the real heartbreaker as the latter fell again and again – especially for those that opted for a long four. A few were also unlucky to be caught out by the open water, such as reigning European champions Andre Thieme (GER) and DSP Chakaria (Chap 47 x Askari 173) as well as Ludger Beerbaum (GER) and Mila (Monte Bellini x Linton). 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Runners-up: Daniel Deusser and Killer Queen VDM. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

The second rider to post a clear round was Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) who delivered one of the most beautiful performances of the day aboard the impressive Major Tom (Vagabond de La Pomme x Heartbreaker), and ten more managed to repeat the feat moving on to the second round on a score of zero; Daniel Deusser (GER) and Killer Queen VDM (Eldorado vd Zeshoek x For Pleasure) – winners of the 2021 Aachen Grand Prix, Eduardo Alvarez Aznar (ESP) and Bentley de Sury (Sunday de Riverland x Calvaro), Eugenio Garza Perez (MEX) and Contago (Cornet Obolensky x Cassini II), as well as Marcus Ehning and Stargold.

Title defenders Gerrit Nieberg (GER) and Ben 431 (Sylvain x Quincy Jones) also jumped clear, as did Jens Fredricson (SWE) and Markan Cosmopolit (Cohiba x Calido I), Philipp Weishaupt (GER) and Zineday (Zinedine x Polydor) – the German rider also a previous winner of this prestigious Grand Prix in 2016, Steve Guerdat (SUI) and the wonderful Dynamix de Belheme (Snaike de Blondel x Cornet Obolensky), Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) and Katanga vh Dingeshof (Cardento x Tornedo FCS) – fresh from their Rolex Grand Prix win in La Baule in June, as well as Ben Maher (GBR) and Dallas Vegas Batilly (Cap Kennedy x l’Arc de Triomphe Bois Margot). 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Third: Philipp Weishaupt and the only 9-year-old Zineday. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

These twelve were joined by five more on four faults completing the start field for round two; Simon Delestre (FRA) and Dexter Fontenis Z (Diarado x Voltaire), Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Leone Jei (Baltic VDL x Corland), Hans-Dieter Dreher (GER) and Elysium (VDL Zirocco Blue x Coronado 3), Yuri Mansur (BRA) and Miss Blue-Saint Blue Farm (Chacco-Blue x VDL Zirocco Blue), as well as Richard Vogel (GER) and United Touch S (Untouched x Lux Z).

For McLain Ward and his 17-year-old HH Azur (Thunder vd Zuuthoeve x Sir Lui vd Zuuthoeve) who came to Aachen as live contenders and with the chance to win their third Major in a row – and become historical alongside Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Sanctos (Quasimodo van de Molendreef x Nabab de Reve) – the Grand Slam dream got an abrupt end as poles fell early on in the course, at fence no. 2 and 3, and the American rider wisely decided to retire.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Marcus Ehning and Stargold. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

With the (in)famous double of liverpools making an appearance for the second round as part of the eleven-fence track, which also included a massive oxer-oxer-plank triple combination at no. 8abc, Rothenberger made sure to keep the suspense at a max. 

The first of those on a clean sheet from round one to deliver a double clear were Eugenio Garza Perez and Contago, who made the tricky track look easy with a perfectly executed round – really impressing with their stylish performances. It took another four riders before a jump-off was secured and it came from Rodrigo Pessoa – a winner of the Aachen Grand Prix back in 1994 – who piloted the powerful Major Tom to another breath-taking clear round at Soers. 

While Nicola Philippaerts added one stride too many on the last line, to record an agonising time penalty which kept him out of the jump-off, the Germans came in full force with the last four riders in the ring representing the host nation. And when Philipp Weishaupt, Daniel Deusser and Marcus Ehning all delivered clear rounds – it exploded at Soers. Unfortunately for title-defender Gerrit Nieberg, the b-element on the double of liverpools hit the ground – preventing him from returning for the jump-off. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ “I can’t really describe what it feels like, also I was not really sure; I saw the 45sec but not the end of my time, but then it was a .1 behind – and that's when I realized!” Ehning said about his feelings as he had secured the victory. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Garza Perez was first to come back for the jump-off, but unfortunately Contago clipped the front rail on the Mercedes-Benz oxer midway and finished on four faults in 48.77 seconds. Luck was not on Rodrigo Pessoa’s side either, who had the back rail on the Grand Slam oxer down – slotting in just ahead of Garza Perez after stopping the clock on 47.08 seconds. Philipp Weishaupt was lightning fast, but the risk came on the expense of the front pole on the Mercedes-Benz oxer – however, his time of 43.36 seconds showed just how fast it was possible to be.

If a pin would have dropped at Soers as Daniel Deusser got underway, you would have heard it. The crowd held their breath as the home hero got underway, but the further out in the course he got, the louder the spectators’ cheering grew – and as he crossed the finish line clear in 45.73 seconds, it exploded at Soers. 

Deusser had piled all the pressure on to Ehning, but the German rider has been around for a while and showed no sign of nerves as he set off on a mission to get his name on the Winners’ Wall for a third time. Once again, the crowds jumped every fence along the way in support and as Ehning reached the approach from the penultimate oxer to the final Rolex upright, the cheers and whistles grew to a whole other level at Soers. As Ehning had crossed the finish line, he looked up at the screen – the clock showed 45.12 seconds and he had done it! An emotional Ehning punched the air, while Stargold threw in his signature buck in celebration – knowing exactly what had just happened – while the two received a standing ovation from the fantastic Aachen-crowds for topping an all-German podium.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ “Stargold is such an amazing horse," Ehning said about his brilliant 11-year-old stallion. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“Stargold is such an amazing horse. I was hoping but you never know with horses,” Ehning said about his expectations ahead of the Grand Prix. “I had a quite good feeling already at the beginning of the week; Stargold really likes the ring here. He’s been in a really good shape the last two weeks, so I had a bit of hope but that I am now here and have won the Grand Prix of Aachen is unbelievable!”

“What do I say? First of all, I am very, very, happy with the performance of my horse today – she jumped three fantastic clear rounds,” Deusser said. “She was fast in the jump-off; it was a little bit the way how the jump-off started – people had a bit faults here and there. I went in, and I had – for my feeling – a very good round and thought that I put a little bit pressure on Marcus. At the end of the day, it is a bit a mixed feeling – I would have liked to win one more time, but on the other hand, if I had done one stride less and gone maybe half-a-second faster, Marcus would probably do the same after me, so at the end I am very, very, happy with my horse and with my second place.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Ehning added his name to the Winners' Wall in Aachen for the third time. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“Normally, when you ride a jump-off, you always want to win, but in my situation here, I am riding a 9-year-old horse which I think no one else did so sitting next to those two guys with very experienced championship horses – I’m over the moon with Zineday today,” said Weishaupt. “He showed his quality, he is an absolute outstanding horse. He’s a young horse, and how he handled the first round, it’s absolutely insane and it’s so much fun to ride him.”

“What I experienced over the last years in Aachen; I think I can write a book,” Ehning smiled. “I also had some very bad moments here, and I already decided a few years ago that the week after Aachen I will do no show because you never know what will happen – for this year, I think I decided perfect, so next week we will have a nice party.”

As the new live contender in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Ehning was asked if he plans to jump at the next Major at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in September. However, as relaxed as only Ehning can be, this had not really crossed his mind yet. “I did not think about it before, but now I have to!” he laughed. 



2.7.2023 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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