The Spruce Meadows Masters, the second leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping this year, is being staged in Calgary, Alberta, on Sept. 7-11. German rider Philipp Weishaupt scored a huge win in the Rolex Grand Slam event the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen (Germany) aboard LB Convall in July.
And now the 31-year-old is joining the world’s top riders at Spruce Meadows looking ahead to the finale of the Spruce Meadows Masters, the CP International Grand Prix on Sept. 11.
The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping unites the three major grand prixs in Aachen, Geneva and Spruce Meadows into one competition where the most prestigious and most difficult-to-win trophy on the international equestrian sport circuit is at stake. The rider who wins all three shows in succession, wins the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping—as well as additional prize money to the value of 1 million Euros.
Scott Brash from Great Britain was the first and so far only rider ever to succeed in pulling off this extraordinary feat: He won in Geneva in 2014 as well as in Aachen and Spruce Meadows in 2015. At the Spruce Meadows Masters, Weishaupt and Steve Guerdat from Switzerland have the chance of taking a further step in the direction of the Rolex Grand Slam: After his victory at the CHIO Aachen 2016, Weishaupt could win his second major in succession in Calgary and would then be riding for the Grand Slam title in Geneva in December. As the winner of the CHI Geneva 2015, Guerdat has the chance to win the “two-out-of-three” bonus in Calgary for two non-consecutive major victories within one Grand Slam cycle.
Weishaupt reflects on his Grand Slam quest:
There are emotional images from your major victory in Aachen. When the pole of the last competitor fell in the stadium, you sank to your knees on the warm-up area…
Philipp Weishaupt: I was completely drained of energy at that moment, there was nothing else I could do. I just couldn’t believe it.
It was simply an overwhelming feeling; in fact, it still is.
It is without doubt a moment that I will never forget in my whole life. There are millions of riders, but only very few are granted such a victory. So, at the age of 31, I have already achieved something, that nobody will ever be able to take away from me.
That’s true! Aged just 9, your horse LB Convall is still a youngster too. The CHIO Aachen was the first major in his life.
Weishaupt: “Convall” is simply an exceptional horse! In spite of his young years, he is extremely cool and has enormous scope. Prior to the CHIO Aachen, I spent four weeks in Spruce Meadows to get him used to grass rings. That was fantastic preparation and really did him good. Of course, it is an enormous advantage for the Masters now, because he has already been there.
What is special about the major in Calgary?
Weishaupt: There are not many such huge grass arenas like the one in Calgary—you have to ride in a special way, you have to let the horses canter much faster. The time between the jumps is tight, the material of the obstacles is incredibly solid and the course is built differently than at most shows. There are horses, who love that and there are others who aren’t too keen at all. I am lucky here because Convall belongs to the first group.
Does he like indoor shows too? After all the third leg of the Rolex Grand Slam in December leads to the CHI in Geneva.
Weishaupt: Geneva is not a typical indoor show. Boasting an indoor area that is bigger than most outdoor rings, it has an absolute outdoor character.
But apart from that, I think a really good horse wins whether it is indoors or out. Due to his temperament, Convall does prefer the big grass areas, but he is such a top quality horse that he will without doubt also be able to perform well indoors too.
So, he is exactly the right partner to claim the Grand Slam title?
Weishaupt: Well, I don’t want to stick my neck out too far! The Rolex Grand Slam is a super challenge, but I don’t think anyone will be able to follow Scott Brash’s lead in a hurry.
There are perhaps a handful of riders, who have been able to win three majors over the course of their entire life, but winning them in direct succession is something very, very, very special. I am actually delighted that I am able to compete in the Grand Slam at all. Nevertheless, I will be give it my best shot in Spruce Meadows and will try to win!