When sport writes history, then an athlete has become a hero, a victory turns into a triumph, a venue into a symbol. In this respect Spruce Meadows is legendary.
The best riders in the world have been meeting up at the impressive equestrian centre at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Canada since 1976 to compete against each other at the highest level. The Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in September, a leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, is the pinnacle of the show season. The rider, who leaves the “International Ring” as the Major winner after the Grand Prix, has secured himself a place in the hall of fame of the equestrian sport.
In 2016, it was Scott Brash, who was able to carry off the victory in the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex”. Just like the year before, when the British rider succeeded in claiming the legendary triumph in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2015: As the first rider ever, Brash won three Majors in direct succession and thus secured himself the Grand Slam title.
Grégory Wathelet would be only too delighted to follow his lead: After riding to victory in the “Rolex Grand Prix” at the CHIO Aachen 2017, the Belgian rider will head for Calgary as the current Grand Slam contender. If he is allowed to not only celebrate his 37th birthday on September 10th, 2017, but also his second consecutive Major victory, it will mean Wathelet would be competing in Geneva in December to take the Grand Slam title.
“Every rider dreams of winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. The Majors are the best and most difficult shows in our sport. You have to compete against the strongest pairs in the world and I know that it will be very difficult to also win in Calgary. But for me this is now perhaps a unique opportunity and I will put all my energy into it,” promised Wathelet, who was able to notch up his best placing in Calgary so far two years ago, when he came sixth in the Grand Prix.
Pedro Veniss also has nice recollections of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2015, because he finished third in the “CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex”. In 2016, the Brazilian rider also put in a highly successful performance at the show and ultimately ranked eighth in the Grand Prix. This year, he was already able to record a Grand Prix victory at five-star level at Spruce Meadows during the summer series.
There couldn’t be a better time for Veniss to jump to the top in Calgary again. Since he won the “Rolex Grand Prix” at CHI Geneva last year, he now has the chance of picking up a bonus for two Major victories within one Grand Slam cycle. “My horses are well prepared and they already jumped fantastically here in the summer. I believe in our chances,” the 34-year-old stated. “But ultimately the decision will be taken in the ring.”
Scott Brash, Grégory Wathelet, Pedro Veniss – these are just three of the big names, who want to prove themselves at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2017. But who will indeed succeed in claiming the Major victory on September 10th? In the end, the sport will write its own history and a new chapter in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.