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Major winner Gregory Wathelet: "I believe every rider dreams of winning the Grand Slam"

Monday, 24 July 2017
CSIO5* Aachen 2017

Photo (c) Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping/Kit Houghton. Gregory Wathelet, the winner of the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen. Photo (c) Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping/Kit Houghton.

On Sunday, Gregory Wathelet claimed the victory in the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen 2017. In an interview with the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, the Belgian rider talks about the fascination of Aachen, the material that Major winners are made of and his birthday plans.

Congratulations on winning the Major in Aachen! Tell us about your Rolex Grand Prix experience!

"It was simply fantastic! The atmosphere in Aachen is always unique, just like the crowd. It is a really special feeling every time when one rides into the Stadium, not at all comparable with the other shows one competes at every weekend. Everyone knows in advance that the Rolex Grand Prix is going to present difficult challenges and it was no different this time either. The horses have to convince with their scope, technique and speed. I am incredibly proud of my mare. I don’t think one could put it down to luck. I believe Coree simply jumped exceptionally. Today’s victory was down to her. Thanks to her my name is now entered on the winners’ board in Aachen and that is the most magnificent gift ever for me!"

When did you realise that Sunday could perhaps become your day?

"To be honest not until the final rider, Laura Kraut, had taken the last obstacle in the jump-off. Everything was open until the very end, all competitors were highly-motivated. The Grand Slam Majors are the best and most difficult shows in the world. It doesn’t suffice to give just 100 percent. One has to give 500 percent and simply hope that it is enough. This time we pulled it off."

This victory means your personal Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has now begun. So, where does it go from here for you?

"The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is a great challenge for us riders. We are extremely grateful to Rolex for their huge commitment to our sport and for enabling such fantastic shows like Aachen, Calgary, Geneva and `s-Hertogenbosch. I believe every rider dreams of winning the Grand Slam and it goes without saying that I will give it my best shot and prepare myself as well as possible for the next Major. But first of all I want to savour this victory here in Aachen. Over the next few days, I will then draw up a plan for Calgary together with my team."

It is your birthday on September 10th. It is coincidentally the very day on which the Grand Prix is taking place in Calgary. But, wouldn’t a second Major victory in succession be a wonderful birthday present?

"Yes, of course (laughs). But, as I said, at the moment I am still overjoyed about my victory in Aachen. We will have to wait and see what happens thereafter. But one thing is sure, I will certainly be celebrating my birthday in Calgary this year."


The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping unites the Majors in Aachen (GER), Geneva (SUI), Calgary (CAN) and ‘s-Hertogenbosch (NED) in the challenge for the most prestigious and most difficult-to-win trophy on the international equestrian sport circuit. 

The rider, who triumphs at three shows in succession, wins the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping – together with one million Euros on top of the prize-money. Should a rider win the fourth Major in direct succession after claiming the Grand Slam victory, he doubles his Grand Slam bonus up to two million Euros. Two Major victories within a Grand Slam cycle are rewarded with 250,000 Euros or 500,000 Euros, if the victories occur at two consecutive legs of the Grand Slam. Irrespective of the calendar year, each rider’s personal Grand Slam cycle begins individually with his first Major victory.

After his victory in the Rolex Grand Prix of the CHIO Aachen 2017, Gregory Wathelet will be competing in the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ as the current Grand Slam contender and will strive to win his second Major in succession. As the winner of the CHI Geneva 2016, the Brazilian rider, Pedro Veniss will be setting his sights on the 250,000 Euro bonus for two non-consecutive Major victories within one Grand Slam cycle.

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