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Inside the Rolex Grand Slam: Road to CHIO Aachen 2023

Friday, 23 June 2023
CHIO Aachen 2023


Press release from Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping



CHIO Aachen returns from 23 June – 2 July and will play host to the second Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major of 2023. This year, CHIO Aachen will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, the sport’s ultimate prize, having hosted the inaugural Major in 2013. The 10-day show will culminate with the Rolex Grand Prix, which will see some of the world’s top horse and rider combinations from 16 different nations, including seven Rolex Testimonees, compete over Frank Rothenberger’s masterfully designed course.

Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping – Rider watch

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam “I cannot wait to return to CHIO Aachen to try and defend my title," Gerrit Nieberg said. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam.

All eyes will be on one rider; America’s McLain Ward as he aims to become only the second person to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. The World No.3, who won the Rolex Grands Prix at both CHI Geneva and The Dutch Masters aboard the 17-year-old mare HH Azur, will be looking to write his name into the history books. Ward has experienced success at the show in the past, last year taking victory in both the Turkish Airlines-Prize of Europe and RWE Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia, as well as placing fifth in the Rolex Grand Prix. As a fierce competitor who knows how to win in the unique Main Stadium, he will be one to watch. Ward will be joined by four compatriots who will all be making the long journey across the Atlantic Ocean to the celebrated venue, including his 2020 Tokyo Olympic teammate, Laura Kraut

He will, however, face competition from the very best in the world including last year’s victor Gerrit Neiberg. The German, who recently took the top spot in the CSI5* Grand Prix in Hamburg, will be seeking to continue this form to become the first rider to win this prestigious class back-to-back. In total, 18 German riders will contest the international showjumping at this year’s World Equestrian Festival including Daniel Deusser and Marcus Ehning, both of whom are also past victors of this prestigious class. 

Looking ahead to the 2023 edition, Nieberg stated: 

“I cannot wait to return to CHIO Aachen to try and defend my title. Winning the Rolex Grand Prix in front of my home crowd truly was a dream come true and something that I will never forget.”

Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs, a double Major winner at CHI Geneva, comes to CHIO Aachen on the back of an impressive victory in the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show with Conner Jei. Fuchs will be hoping to claim his first victory in the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen. Fellow countryman, Steve Guerdat, is another amongst the talented field who has never won this coveted title. Guerdat, known for his horsemanship skills, will bring four horses with him to Aachen, including the exciting Dynamix de Belheme and Venard de Cerisy, the horse he rode to victory in the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex in 2021.





Live contender interview with McLain Ward

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof "We are very focused on CHIO Aachen in general – we look at Aachen as a championship. For us, it is the biggest and most prestigious event in the world," Rolex Grand Slam live contender McLain Ward said. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof.

Congratulations! You are still the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender, how are you feeling ahead of CHIO Aachen? 

I feel good, but I am always cautiously optimistic. We've tried to make sure that the horses are in the best form possible. We compete HH Azur very sparingly because of her age and just aim her towards big events. You have to have belief in your programme and trust that you have got everything right, especially when you're not competing regularly, but she feels good. 

We are very focused on CHIO Aachen in general –  we look at Aachen as a championship. For us, it is the biggest and most prestigious event in the world. I am trying to keep grounded and not let other possibilities seep into my head – I think you get easily distracted by these things.

How did it feel to win at The Dutch Masters?

It felt incredible. It was a class that I didn't think was setting up very well for us when there were so many clear rounds. The Dutch Masters is held in a small indoor arena and with her big stride, I thought it would be difficult to be fast enough. I had a plan to try to do everything we could to win, but I did not expect to win and so when it all came together it was extremely exciting and fulfilling. I then became the only person, apart from Scott Brash, to win two Majors in a row, which is a huge accomplishment and something that I am very proud of. 

How have you been preparing, and which horse are you hoping to compete with in the Rolex Grand Prix?

I am lucky to have a great string of horses and I also have some really exciting horses coming up through the ranks. I will be bringing Callas, Contagious, and HH Azur to Aachen, they have been competing very well throughout the spring and early summer. HH Azur has only done one small national show, just to make sure she was fit and give her a jump in a competitive setting. We have kept her preparation the same as we have done for all the Majors – keeping her fresh and targeting the event.





CHIO Aachen 2023 highlights

Photo © CHIO Aachen From 23 June – 2 July, CHIO Aachen will once again welcome the world’s finest horse and rider combinations to the unmatched Aachen Soers Showground. Photo © CHIO Aachen.

From 23 June – 2 July, CHIO Aachen will once again welcome the world’s finest horse and rider combinations to the unmatched Aachen Soers Showground. Often compared to The Championships, Wimbledon, CHIO Aachen is a globally renowned event steeped in history and prestige. Over the course of the show, The World Equestrian Festival will host five equestrian disciplines, and will welcome over 360,000 spectators, all whom will be eager to experience the unique and electric atmosphere that CHIO Aachen offers. In addition, 10-year anniversary celebrations of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, the sport’s ultimate challenge will begin at CHIO Aachen.

The show will have a Royal opening, with Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal attending the iconic Opening Ceremony on Tuesday 27 June, celebrating the show’s partnership with the United Kingdom this year. Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal is sure to have fond memories of the show as her daughter, Zara Tindall, won individual gold at the FEI World Equestrian GamesTM held at the venue in 2006. The theme of the evening will be based on the Beatles’ legendary song “All You Need is Love” and will include performances from breath-taking Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry and the exhilarating Shetland Pony Grand National.

The 5* show jumping commences on Wednesday 28 June with the Turkish Airlines-Prize of Europe. Held under the floodlights of the Main Stadium, the class provides riders with their first opportunity to qualify for the feature class of the show, the Rolex Grand Prix. The next evening will see the return of the Mercedes-Benz Nations´ Cup, a team competition held over two identical rounds, where only the top eight teams progress through the final round. With the FEI European Championships taking place later in the summer, riders will be eager to impress their selectors. The pinnacle of the show, the Rolex Grand Prix, will take place on Sunday afternoon in front of 40,000 knowledgeable and passionate fans...





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.

The format of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is simple: anyone who wins three Majors in a row receives the Rolex Grand Slam trophy and a €1 million bonus on top of the class’s classes’ prize-money. If that same rider then continues their success by winning a fourth Major in succession, they will be rewarded with an additional €1 million bonus. If two shows are won in succession, the bonus is €500,000 or if an athlete wins two majors in a period of four successive shows, the bonus is €250,000.

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