The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping returns to the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament from 6-10 September 2023, with the CPKC ‘International’, presented by Rolex, taking place on the Sunday – acting as a fitting finale to a thrilling five days of sporting excellence. The show will welcome some of the world’s best horse and rider combinations to what is often regarded as the leading equestrian venue in North America, located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Calgary.
The CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament this year will host a world-class line up, all of whom have the CPKC ‘International’, presented by Rolex, set in their sights – the third Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major of 2023.
One of the favourite’s for taking this year’s win is the defending champion, Daniel Deusser, who finished in second place in the Rolex Grand Prix of CHIO Aachen earlier this summer, by just 0.61 seconds, aboard the magnificent Killer Queen VDM. Deusser has already experienced victory on the North American circuit this year, having had a successful run in various CSI5* classes part of the Winter Equestrian Festival at Wellington International, Florida.
Deusser is one of six Rolex Testimonees competing at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament, with World No.4 Martin Fuchs leading the way. The Swiss has shown his class for many years, with successes including winning consecutive Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva in 2019 and 2021, winning the FEI World Cup™ Final in 2022, and more recently jumping a double-clear to help secure the Swiss team win in the Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup at CHIO Aachen earlier this year.
Fuchs’ Swiss teammate and fellow Rolex Testimonee, Steve Guerdat, will also be making the journey to Canada, looking for a repeat of his 2021 performance, where he claimed the prestigious CPKC ‘International’, presented by Rolex title. Guerdat has not missed a Major throughout the 10-year existence of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Kent Farrington was second to Guerdat in the 2021 CPKC ‘International’ presented by Rolex, and is looking to go one better, two years on. As a regular at the Calgary venue, Farrington and his team of horses have the advantage of knowing the arena and most importantly, how to win there – having already picked up three wins in CSI5* classes at Spruce Meadows this summer.
British rider, Scott Brash, will undoubtedly have fond memories of this venue, due to it being the place where he made history, becoming the first – and only rider to date – to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping in 2015, after sealing his third consecutive Major win in the CPKC ‘International’, presented by Rolex, a class he went on to win again in 2016. Brash will also be joined by London 2012 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic teammate, Ben Maher. Maher, who won individual gold in Tokyo, suffered a shoulder injury at the beginning of the year, but bounced back remarkably quickly to secure a second-place finish at his first big show back, in the Rolex Grand Prix at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. Maher has gone on to have a brilliant 2023 season, with his most recent success story being the part he played in the winning FEI Nations’ Cup™ team at Hickstead in July. Also part of that team, and joining Brash and Maher in Calgary, will be John Whitaker, one of Britain’s most decorated riders, having competed in 39 World and European Championships, as well as on six Olympic teams in his long and remarkable career.
The home crowd will be delighted to welcome several Canadian riders to the stage, with many hopes of bringing the CPKC ‘International’ Grand Prix, presented by Rolex title home resting on the highest-ranked Canadian rider, Tiffany Foster. Foster has already had two CSI5* wins at Spruce Meadows this summer, showing she knows what it takes to deliver in the grand arena. Other Canadian challengers include Amy Millar, whose father Ian was the last Canadian to win the Spruce Meadows Major on Dixson in 2014, as well as Erynn Ballard and Mario Deslauriers.
The European presence at the show will be headlined by World No.3 Harrie Smolders, who has secured podium placings in many esteemed competitions this year, after getting off to a strong start by claiming the CSI5* Nab Bliksembeveiliging Prize at his hometown Major show, The Dutch Masters, back in March. Smolders finished in second place at the FEI World CupTM Finals in both 2022 and 2023, firmly cementing his name in the pool of riders with the upmost talent. Another one to watch is Pieter Devos, winner of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Major in 2013. Devos, named Rider of the Year in Belgium in 2020, was part of the bronze medal winning team at the Tokyo Olympic Games, so knows how to ride in pressurized circumstances.
The Irish flag will be flown by Darragh Kenny and Connor Swail, as well as Rolex Testimonee Bertram Allen. Top 10 rider Swail has had recent success at Jumping International de Dinard in July, where he won both the Prix du Conseil Departemental d’Ille & Vilaine and the Prix L’Eperon – Charles de Cazanove. Allen has also had a successful season to date and having won two CSI5* classes at the Dublin Horse Show earlier this month, he will be travelling to Calgary with high levels of confidence.
Course designer Leopoldo Palacios will undoubtedly set a challenge for the horse and rider combinations competing in the CPKC ‘International’ Grand Prix, presented by Rolex this year. The field of competitors is set to be comprised of some of the very best, and it is sure to be a spectacle to watch them battle it out in the ultimate quest to become the next Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping winner.