Rome, Italy – May 22, 2023 – It Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) and the amazing King Edward will be the headline act when the 90th anniversary CSIO Rome – Master d’Inzeo gets underway at the beautiful Piazza di Siena next week. However the horse and rider partnership who have swept all before them in recent years will face plenty of tough opposition during the 2023 fixture that will run from 25 to 28 May.
Amongst the star-studded field of 81 riders from 18 different countries are four of the top five in the current world rankings including von Eckermann who continues to hold the number one slot, on-form flying Frenchman Julien Epaillard (FRA) who lies second, double European medallist Martin Fuchs (SUI) from Switzerland who sits in fourth place and Dutchman Harrie Smolders (NED) whose sheer consistency leaves him in fifth. Also lining out will be reigning Olympic champion Ben Maher (GBR) from Great Britain.
Last month Von Eckermann added the coveted World Cup title to the team gold he won at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the team and individual gold he secured at last summer’s FEI Jumping World Championships in Denmark. He’s clearly on a roll, and he already knows what it is to be a winner at arguably the most iconic horse show in the world.
He claimed the Rome Grand Prix title in 2015 and led Team Sweden to only their second victory in the long and distinguished history of the Nations Cup at Piazza di Siena when producing one of just two double-clears in the hard-fought team competition in 2019.
This year he will be joined by Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli, Jens Fredricson, Wilma Hellstrom and Evelina Tovek in the Swedish side to battle it out against Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Switzerland and last year’s winners from France, in the Intesa Sanpaolo Nations Cup on Friday afternoon (May 25). The French have posted 22 victories in the Rome Nations Cup which dates all the way back to 1926, and they come armed with a steller crew once again that includes Julien Epaillard (FRA), Gregory Cottard (FRA), Simon Delestre (FRA), Marc Dilasser (FRA) and Kevin Staut (FRA).
Italy however have posted the most wins with a total of 29 including a back-to-back double in 2017 and 2018, and they’ll be hoping to do it all over again this time around.
The €1m in prizemoney up for grabs throughout the week is a major incentive, and the startlist this year includes six previous Rome Grand Prix champions.
Ireland’s Denis Lynch (IRL) lifted the Rolex Grand Prix trophy for the second time in his career when coming out on top 12 months ago and is back to try to make it a three-peat on Sunday afternoon (28 May). Daniel Bluman (ISR) made history when posting Israel’s first-ever victory in 2019, while Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) kept the trophy at home a year earlier. The Netherlands’ Jur Vrieling (NED) reigned supreme in 2017, von Eckermann (SWE) won in 2015 and Britain’s John Whitaker (GBR) topped the podium in 2007.
All of these six riders will be hoping to write their names onto the Rome Grand Prix Roll of Honour once again, but they have a lot of catching up to do if they want to match the remarkable record set by the legendary Italian, Colonel Piero d’Inzeo – born just 100 years ago – who posted seven wins with six different horses between 1958 and 1976.
Only six lady riders have ever taken the Rome Grand prix title and three of those were American. Flying the US flag this year will be both Jessica Springsteen and Laura Kraut – the latter lying 19th in the world rankings and enjoying a great run of recent form so perhaps it is time for a female Grand Prix winner once again…..
There is a lot about CSIO Rome that is totally unique including its location in the charming Villa Borghese public park in the heart of the Eternal City.
The maintenance of the areas around the showground, which throughout the year is experienced as one of the most important meeting points in the park, has for years been looked after of by the organisers of the CSIO (Sport e Salute and FISE), who over time have completed important restoration interventions on the architectonic and monumental elements.
To celebrate the opening of the 90th edition of the show, Intesa Sanpaolo and the Italian Equestrian Sports Federation present ‘Opera Italiana is in the Air’, directed by Maestro Alvise Casellati. Taking place in the green oval the evening before the show begins (24 May; 7 pm), this will be free-of-charge to the public and will set the stage for four more days of unforgettable sport.
Don’t miss a moment……
Source: Piazza di Siena
Photo: © FEI / Leanjo De Koster / Equi-Equipe Archive / Sport e Salute / Simone Ferraro