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Inside CHIO Aachen: And the winner is...

Monday, 23 July 2018
CHIO Aachen 2018

Photo (c) Rolex / Kit Houghton Marcus Ehning riding Pret A Tout, winner of the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen. Photo (c) Rolex / Kit Houghton.

Germany’s Marcus Ehning gave the 40,000 patriotic spectators a reason to celebrate at CHIO Aachen, as he clinched the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix title aboard his 15-year-old chestnut gelding, Pret A Tout. 

Although this is the fourth Major Ehning has won, his Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping journey has only just begun, as he becomes the new live contender. We spoke to Ehning following his incredible performance, which left him two seconds clear of his closest rival, Portugal’s Luciana Diniz: 

What were your thoughts when you walked the course? 

I thought it was a really good course, I thought there would be about 10 clears and, in the end, there were 11. There wasn’t anywhere specifically that looked too challenging or that my horse couldn’t jump, but my horse has performed amazingly in past years here, and he gave me a confidence that I could really trust him and believe that we could go all the way. He is a very flexible horse and I am very lucky to be riding him. 

Which round was more difficult, the first or second? 

For me the first round was more difficult, a few times I didn’t have the perfect rhythm that I wanted but I was very happy to be clear. The second round was amazing, from the first jump to the last, we were fast but there was a lot of control and I really enjoyed it. 

Where you nervous watching Luciana’s round? 

I was nervous watching Luciana, she is a good rider and has come close to winning here a few times. 

You are now the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender, will you be competing at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in September? 

Before this win today I was only focusing on the World Equestrian Games, but obviously now this is a very different situation. I need to speak to my team and my owners to work out a strategy and think about what we do.

Walk the Course With: Course designer Frank Rothenberger

Photo (c) Rolex / Kit Houhgton Frank Rothenberger. Photo (c) Rolex / Kit Houhgton.

Could you talk us through the Rolex Grand Prix course? 

It’s the biggest class I build every year, it’s scheduled up to 1.70. We have thirteen jumps with a big water jump and a triple combination. It’s a very tough course in a big arena, and there is always such an exciting atmosphere. There will be two rounds with a tricky jump-off too, we have built the course almost to the maximum we can build, so it should be very interesting. 

What do you think the biggest challenges are going to be? 

I think the double ditches and the double oxer. You never know how spooked the horses will get and how they will react when they see the water beside the lake. The last line is also very difficult, with three big jumps from the entrance. It requires seven long and five short strides. These will probably be the most challenging aspects of the course, but we will have to see.

Do you feel extra pressure when having to design a course that is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping? 

I’m starting to sweat at the moment. I’m already getting nervous and my hands are already getting wet. Of course, it is a very nerve racking experience. The closer we get to the Rolex Grand Prix the more nervous I feel. But I am looking forward to seeing how the riders do on the course.

Behind the Stable Door With: Marcus Ehning’s groom, Mel Obst

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson / World of Show Jumping Mel Obst, groom to Marcus Ehning. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson / World of Show Jumping.

Can you tell us about Pret A Tout? 

Pret A Tout is the easiest horse we have, he has a super character and is so brave. He is very calm, you can give him to anyone to hold and he will behave, he is just lovely and easy. When he is jumping he is like ‘I am doing my job and focused’ after he has finished he is like ‘I am chilled, I just want to eat’ when he is eating he is very happy, I think he even had a bit of grass in the prize giving! In the stable he is so relaxed and such a wonderful horse to be around, I am so lucky to work with him. 

How will you reward him tonight? 

We will reward him with a lot of food, he loves food. He loves carrots, apples, everything, so he will be getting all of those tonight for sure. 

How did you feel when you realised Marcus had won? 

I felt unbelievable, it is so exciting for us! We have had an amazing week here at CHIO Aachen and to win the Rolex Grand Prix tops off an incredible show for us, to win this and the Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup, it feels like a dream. It took some time to sink-in that we had actually won, I suddenly realised Luciana’s time was slower and worked out we had actually won, it was unreal.

About the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping:

The Rolex Grand Slam is considered by the sport to be the ultimate equestrian challenge,  primarily due to the sporting prowess required to achieve this feat. It is a quest taken on by the world’s top riders, vying to secure the legendary status associated with winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Launched in 2013, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is the only initiative to reward the outstanding rider who wins three Majors consecutively, at four of the world’s most historic shows – The Dutch Masters, CHIO Aachen, CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ and CHI Geneva. Considered by the sport to be the ultimate equestrian challenge, it rewards the very best horse and rider combination with a €1 million bonus. If all four Majors are won in succession, a further €1 million bonus is awarded. If two shows are won in succession, the bonus is €500,000. If the rider is successful in qualifying for the “two out of four mode”, but doesn’t claim the victories at two consecutive shows, the bonus totals €250,000. It is only the rider that counts, therefore it is possible to claim the bonus riding different horses.


Press release from the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping

Pictures © Kit Houghton and Jenny Abrahamsson/World of Showjumping

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