Aachen, Germany – June 21, 2023 – It was a goosebump moment of the 2022 CHIO Aachen. So, it is no surprise that Gerrit Nieberg (GER) and his horse Ben’s sensational victorious round from last year’s Rolex Grand Prix was shown on the screen at the start of the traditional press conference in the run-up to the World Equestrian Festival. An eternal moment, but also an appetizer of what the world can look forward to at the 2023 CHIO Aachen from June 23rd onwards: Top-class sport, huge emotions and a spectacular supporting programme. Together with the organisers and the dressage rider, Sönke Rothenberger, Gerrit Nieberg looked ahead to the 2023 CHIO Aachen on Tuesday morning.
“I am in good form, Ben is in good form,” revealed Gerrit Nieberg (GER), with a grin. So, the mission is clear: “to defend the title”. Competing as a total outsider last year, the 30-year-old is the centre of attention three days before the CHIO Aachen begins. The German rider is facing tough competition on his way to eternalising his name on the legendary winners’ board again, though. All eyes will particularly be cast on McLain Ward (USA) on the concluding Sunday. And there is a good, historical reason for that: After his victories at the “CHI Geneva” and at “The Dutch Masters”, Ward is travelling to Aachen as the contender for the “Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping”. Coinciding with the 10th anniversary of this prestigious series, which experienced its debut at the Aachen Soers in 2013, the US American has the chance to win the most coveted trophy of the international equestrian sport, as the second rider ever. To pull off this feat he has to win the Rolex Grand Prix that is endowed with 1.5 million Euros – whereby the two Swiss top stars, Martin Fuchs and Steve Guerdat, also want to have a say in the matter. The same is true of the Olympic gold medallist Maher (GBR), Simon Delestre from France and the German show-jumper, Daniel Deußer.
However, world-class sport cannot only be experienced in the Main Stadium, but also a few metres away in the Deutsche Bank Stadium. Stefanie Peters is particularly pleased about that. “It is no secret that I am a dressage fan,” the President of the Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein e.V. (ALRV), organisers of the CHIO Aachen, said looking forward to the best ten days of the year, when she always takes time to watch the dressage. The field of participants in the dressage is more impressive than ever, no less than 9 of the Top 10 of the world ranking list will be competing there next week. The selected line-up is headed by the double Olympic gold medallist, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, who is bringing her “Queen”, TSF Dalera BB, back with her to the Soers for the first time since 2019. In the meantime, the pair have pretty much won every title that is up for grabs – whereby the entry on the legendary winners’ board in Aachen is still missing from their list. To secure that engraving it is necessary to triumph in the Deutsche Bank Prize. But the 37-year-old is up against extremely strong competition there. In addition to her fellow countrywoman and record-holder in Aachen, Isabell Werth, also especially from Great Britain, the partner country of this year’s CHIO Aachen. The double World Champion, Charlotte Fry, is taking part, as well as the three-time Olympic gold medallist, Charlotte Dujardin, and the 19-year-old Annabella Pidgley, who will be presenting last year’s winner in the Deutsche Bank Prize, Vamos Amigos.
And another rider is also staring longingly at the legendary board – albeit not this year, yet. “Of course, it is my dream to see my name up there one day,” stated Sönke Rothenberger (GER), who is looking forward to returning to Aachen finally for the first time since 2017. “Aachen is always something very special,” the team Olympic gold medallist from 2016 raved, who has returned to the top circuit after a long intermission after making a sensational comeback with the just nine-year-old Fendi. According to the current information, the recently crowned German Vice Champion in the Grand Prix Special will be competing in the 4* Tour. Because after a fall last weekend, Ingrid Klimke has had to have a shoulder operation, whereby she still intends to compete in the Lambertz Nations Cup. “It will become clear this week whether she really will be able to compete. If not, Sönke and Fendi are in the starting blocks,” stated CHIO Aachen Head of Sport, Birgit Rosenberg, who was delighted about the high-quality field of competitors. “It is really world-class,” the ALRV board member noted. And not only in the jumping and the dressage, we will also be able to experience the crème de la crème in the vaulting, in the four-in-hand driving and in the eventing. For instance, the number one in the world ranking list, Tim Price (NZL); the World Champion, Yasmin Ingham (GBR); as well as Germany’s title-holder, Sandra Auffarth and the Olympic gold medallist from 2012 and 2016, Michael Jung (GER), will be battling it out in the three disciplines that make up the SAP Cup.
Birgit Rosenberg also had some further interesting news to report: The “CHIO Aachen Scientist Circle” initiative that is dedicated to the welfare of sports horses will getting together for the first time during the show, the “Boehringer Ingelheim Grooms’ Lounge” is also celebrating its premiere this year. There has been progress on the digitalisation front too. This year the CHIO Aachen app is taking on a new look: A lean design. Modern. User-friendly. “Simply the ideal show companion,” according to Michael Mronz, General Manager of the Aachener Reitturnier GmbH (ART), who particularly emphasised the live tracking and foodprint calculator functions. And the CHIO Aachen is also profiting from additional co-staged events too: The #neuland congress is being organised in Aachen parallel to the show: Around 100 top speakers will voice their opinions on current key themes such as digitalisation, connected mobility and energy. The second day of the congress is traditionally dedicated to the sport, which is without doubt one of the supporting pillars of our society. “Sport holds a great social potential and at the same time bears a far-reaching economic responsibility,” claimed Michael Mronz.
However, primarily the CHIO Aachen is and remains to be one thing: World-class sport. For ten days, in five disciplines, in front of 350,000 spectators, in the most famous equestrian sport arenas in the world. In total, 440 riders from 30 nations are awaited in Aachen with 626 horses. Aachen’s Mayoress, Sibylle Keupen is looking forward to the many guests from all over the globe, whom the show always attracts to the imperial city. “The CHIO not only boasts a long tradition, it also has an enormous appeal. It is going to be a fantastic occurrence again this year,” the Mayoress stated. And this occurrence is kicking off in exactly three days’ time, first of all with the vaulting and the two “Horse & Symphony” concerts, which just like the official Opening Ceremony on June 27th, in line with the partner country will be above all one thing: very British!
Source: Press Release from CHIO Aachen
Photo: © CHIO Aachen/Andreas Steind