The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping returns to CHIO Aachen from June 24 – July 3, 2022, with the Rolex Grand Prix on the final Sunday providing a fitting end to two weeks of exceptional sport. Returning to its usual slot between The Dutch Masters and Spruce Meadows Masters, the event often compared to The Championships at Wimbledon will welcome 40,000 passionate equestrian spectators back the pristine Aachen Soers showground.
Daniel Deusser returns to the hallowed grounds as both the live contender of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, following his victory at The Dutch Masters in March, and the defending champion of the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen. The German, currently ranked World No.9, brings the talented mare Killer Queen VDM with him to defend their title and continue his quest to become only the second person to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Deusser will be joined by six of his fellow Rolex Testimonees, as well as numerous talented German riders including Christian Ahlmann, André Thieme and Marcus Ehning.
World No.1 and winner of the 2021 Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva Martin Fuchs will be looking to claim the non-consecutive bonus for winning two Rolex Grands Prix in a year. The Swiss rider has had an incredible first half of the year, securing the FEI World Cup Finals title in April and more recently winning the 5* Swiss Grand Prix. He has strength and depth in his string of horses and will be looking to carry his winning momentum into the main stadium of the Aachen Soers showground. Compatriot and fellow Rolex Testimonee Steve Guerdat will also be looking to build on his vast winning experience to claim his first victory in this respected class.
Tokyo 2020 Individual Olympic Games gold medallist Ben Maher will be looking to add a victory in the Rolex Grand Prix to his impressive collection of results. The Englishman finished in fourth place last year on his impressive chestnut gelding, Explosion W. Long-term teammate Scott Brash, the only rider to have won the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, knows what it takes to win in the beautiful grass arena and will be hoping to restart his quest for a second Grand Slam. Joining the strong British contingent is the Under-25 World No.1 and World No.17 Harry Charles. Charles has had a meteoric rise through the senior rankings over the past year. The young British rider will be returning to the iconic venue following his debut in 2018 and will be looking to cement his name among the best riders in the world.
2022 Rolex Grand Prix winners Ashlee Bond (Winter Equestrian Festival) and Gregory Wathelet (CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show), all know what it takes to win a Rolex Grand Prix and will be relying on this experience to help them claim one of the most prestigious prizes in show jumping.
Show jumping legend Rodrigo Pessoa returns to Aachen exactly 50 years after his father, Nelson Pessoa, claimed his second CHIO Aachen Grand Prix win. Marlon Modolo Zanotelli will also be vying to ensure the Brazilian flag is represented on the podium. Off the back of recent victories in Paris and the Nations Cup at CSIO Roma Piazza di Siena, Frenchman Kevin Staut will be full of confidence in his talented horses heading into CHIO Aachen.
Joining the list of world-class horse and rider combinations is World No.3 Peder Fredricson, who is always a fierce competitor, and heading up the Irish contingent is World No. 5 Conor Swail who brings two of his top horses; Count Me In and Nadal Hero & DB.
Talking to Live Contenter Daniel Deusser
You are the Rolex Grand Slam live contender once again; how are you feeling ahead of CHIO Aachen?
I am very excited! It is always very difficult to win the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen, so to win it two years in a row would be phenomenal. I think that being the Rolex Grand Slam live contender definitely makes it more interesting. Even without being the live contender the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO is always one of my main aims each year.
CHIO Aachen is one of the biggest stages in equestrian sport, and in your home country. Do you feed off the energy and support from the crowd?
CHIO Aachen is such an incredible show. It is one of the biggest shows in the world, and on Sunday during the Rolex Grand Prix there are 40,000 people sitting in the stadium – it creates the most amazing atmosphere. I definitely think that both me and my horse feed off the energy from the home crowd – they add so much to the show. CHIO Aachen is very special and unique – all the best riders in the world want to win there.
How have you been preparing and which horse are you hoping to compete with in the Rolex Grand Prix?
I am planning on competing with Killer Queen VDM in the Rolex Grand Prix. She has competed at CHIO Aachen and in the main stadium for a number of years, and she feels really relaxed and comfortable there. She has also won there a lot; in 2018 she won the Sparkassen Youngster Cup, in 2019 she won the RWE Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia and then obviously the Rolex Grand Prix last year. I think that the arena really suits her – she has big stride and is a big forward mover and so having more space is better for her.
She did a couple of outdoor shows very early in the season. When we came back from Florida, she did one or two shows, but I have now given her about four weeks off. CHIO Aachen will be the first show back after her break but I am still riding and training her at home. My plan for CHIO Aachen will be do a small warm-up class early in the week, then do a big class to get into a rhythm and prepare her for the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday.
Have you also been thinking ahead to the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’?
I would love to take Killer Queen VDM to CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’. However, the problem is it is the week after our home show, the Brussels Stephex Masters. If I have enough horses at the right level then I will try and go to CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, but I will have to see a bit later in the year.
You travel a lot for competitions – which is your favourite country to travel to and why?
I really like Spain. I think it is a really welcoming country that has great weather and delicious food. I always have a great time when I am there. I have been there a couple of times for the holidays and obviously for shows.
The equestrian calendar is very full; how do you decide which shows to enter and which horses to compete with?
It really depends on the experience and preferences of the horses. For example, Killer Queen VDM prefers and performs the best in big grass arenas. So that is one way I choose; I look at which horse would best suit a show and then we will plan to go there. There are also some shows that are always in my calendar and that I go to every year – CHIO Aachen is one of those shows, and so I try and make sure that I have my horses ready for this show. Often, I will look at how a horse performed at the shows last year and whether they like smaller indoor arenas or bigger outdoors ones and I will plan according to that.
Do you watch other sports or follow other athletes? If so, how do they influence you as a professional sports athlete?
I was invited by Rolex to go to Roland Garros two weeks ago. I saw the quarter final between Nadal and Djokovic. I have to say it was inspiring to watch the way they cope with the atmosphere and their fitness. As an athlete, when you see that kind of atmosphere it inspires to get better and train harder. Our sport is very unique because the horse is also the athlete so you have to ensure that both you and the horse are fit enough and can cope with the atmosphere.