Aachen, Germany – June 28, 2023 – Under the dazzling lights of CHIO Aachen’s iconic Hauptstadion, the world’s best horse and rider combinations gathered to contest the €202,000 Turkish Airlines-Prize of Europe CSIO 5*, the first 5* class of the 2023 Show. The 1.55m competition was held over two rounds, with all clear rounds proceeding to the jump-off. Attracting 53 riders, including the reigning individual Olympic gold medallist Ben Maher (GBR), and the current World No.5, Martin Fuchs (SUI), the competition was set to be fierce.
The Frank Rothenberger-designed course consisted of 14 combinations in the first round and eight in the second, and provided a suitable challenge for the riders, all of whom had their sights set on early qualification for Sunday’s prestigious Rolex Grand Prix class.
Dutch rider, Marc Houtzager (NED), was first to clear the obstacles, but heartbreak came when he collected just two-time penalties. It was, however, the young Swiss rider Edouard Schmitz (SUI), who was eighth to canter into the historic arena, who mastered the technical course aboard the impressive 11-year-old gelding Gamin Van’t Naastveldhof. Faults came throughout the course, but much to the delight and cheers of the German crowd, three German riders produced faultless rounds including last year’s Rolex Grand Prix winner Gerrit Nieberg (GER).
Of the initial 53 riders, only seven proceeded to the jump-off. Riders returned to the arena in the same order as the first round, so it was Schmitz once again who set the standard for those who followed, with a clear round in a time of 42.43 seconds. However, his lead was quickly usurped by the Brazilian Yuri Mansur (BRA), who crossed the line less than two-tenths of a second faster. The German crowd held their breath as their three representatives entered the arena one after another, but neither Richard Vogel (GER), Philipp Weishaupt (GER) nor Gerrit Nieberg (GER) could produce the rounds that they may have hoped for, with all three riders accumulating penalties for knocked fences. Mansur’s lead could now only be beaten by one combination, the in-form Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Conner Jei, but after a slight slip to the second fence, the former FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final winner could not make up the time to secure the win, resulting in the Brazilian claiming his first CHIO Aachen victory.
Speaking on his success, the emotional Mansur said: “This win is so special. In 2018, I came to Aachen for the first time, and I was clear in the first round of this competition, but in the second round things did not go as we wanted them to. But day by day, I’ve worked hard and wanted to be the best. Every year I have returned to Aachen and we have got better and better, and now I have won a class. This is the biggest win in my career.”
Thrilled with his partner, Mansur continued: “This mare [Miss Blue-Saint Blue Farm] is just unreal. She was only jumping 1.30m a year ago and she is only nine-years-old. She is still very inexperienced and so what she has achieved this evening is just amazing. I was one of the first people to import horses from Europe to Brazil at the beginning of my career. I am now the one promoting Brazilian bred horses, and my mare is the best example of how talented they are!”
Final Results – €202,000 Turkish Airlines-Prize of Europe CSIO 5* – 1.60m
1) Yuri Mansur (BRA) & Miss Blue-Saint Blue Farm – 0 / 0 – 42.27
2) Edouard Schmitz (SUI) & Gamin van’t Naastveldhof – 0 / 0 – 42.43
3) Martin Fuchs (SUI) & Conner Jei – 0 / 0 – 42.78
Source: Press Release from Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping
Photo: © Rolex / Ashley Neuhof