He will be the headliner of this 9th edition of the International Jumping in Chantilly: He will be the favourite of the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix this Saturday and most of all he will be the big favourite for the Olympic individual title. Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (50 years), already Olympic vice-champion in Beijing/Hong Kong, has good chances in taking home two gold medals from London as his team, Sweden, is in good form, too. Since the beginning of 2012, the European Champion is also n°1 on the world ranking list.
This is the reward to a successful career made by the sweat of his brow and which began with a part time job in Sweden dirtying his hands greasing and oiling combined harvesters (“I have always been attracted to engines, technically. Being able to repair something yourself is very rewarding.”) and the horses he rode in eventing before going on to show jumping and turning professional all the whilst enhancing young stallions.
Right from his first CSI Jan Tops spotted and recruited him in 1994. This was the start of his first big international successes, with Roofs and Pialotta, and the first European Championship medals (2001 in Arnheim, bronze in individual and silver in team riding with Pialotta which he had to transfer to the future Mrs Tops, Edwina Alexander). Then the separation with the Global Tour’s future boss came followed by the settling down in Germany, and the home of the President of the German Federation, the collaboration with the Holstein Stud-book as well as with Alfonso Romo, Mexican stud breeder and business man. This allowed him to ride exceptional horses such as Casall, 2nd in Cannes or Ninja, European Champion and Olympic vice-champion. The discrete Rolf Göran Bengtsson is definitely amongst the grand favourites in the London 2012 Olympics, but right now, his fine riding is worth all the gold medals in the world. A truly pleasure!
Other Olympic candidates in Chantilly:
The world n°1 will not be the only serious candidate among the Olympic riders who will be present in Chantilly. Another favourite for this precious medal is the Briton Nick Skelton who will bring his two top horses, Carlo and Big Star, his top choice for London. After a terrible accident that led to an interdiction to ride, it seems almost miraculous to see him in the saddle again.
Today, at the age of fifty-five, he knows that with this exceptional horse he can seize the opportunity to set an important milestone in his career in front of his fans. Chantilly is proud to welcome this living legend of showjumping as well as his Olympic teammate, the Scotsman Scott Brash. Three out of five German Olympic participants will also compete on the grounds of the Meautry arena: the winner of the World Cup 2011, Christian Ahlmann with his famous Taloubet Z, the artist Marcus Ehning with Copain van der Broy and Sabrina; and the substitute, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, who recently placed third at the Grand Prix in Aix-la-Chapelle with Bella Donna.
The colour sergeant of the Brazilian team in London, Rodrigo Pessoa, also chose Chantilly as a final preparation for the Olympic Games with Rebozo. Alvaro de Miranda, his team mate and winner of the Grand Prix Equidia of Chantilly in 2011, will bear him accompany.
The current Olympic Champions in team should also be mentioned, namely the American Beezie Madden and McLain Ward (first appearance in Chantilly), who both fancy the setting in front of the Grand Stables before trying to defend their title at Greenwich Park. This obviously excellent list of great riders goes on and on: An outrageous chance for the public of Chantilly and France to celebrate the best that world of showjumping has to offer, at no charge.
Many of the mentioned champions should also reappear on the London podiums again in two weeks. Due to this fact, the names of French jumping riders should be added here: While Kevin Staut as well as Pénélope Leprévost are already in England to accomplish their patriotic duty and maintain the French team in the Top League at Hickstead’s Nations Cup, other French Olympic team members, Roger-Yves Bost and Simon Delestre, stay in France to fulfil theirs in Chantilly…
Other Olympic picks in Chantilly this weekend:
Edwina Tops-Alexander (Australia): Winner of the GP GCT of Chantilly in 2011. Great prospects on an individual medal=8/10
Ben Maher (England): Great prospects on the team medal (5/10)
Bill Twomey (Ireland): Reasonable prospects on an individual medal (3/10)
Katharina Offel (Ukraine): Winner of the Grand Prix Hermès at the Grand Palais, she could be the surprise in London (4/10)
Reed Kessler (USA): Member of the U.S. Olympic Champions Team as a prospective candidate, 7/10. This young equestrian has just turned 18 and is a phenomenon in her discipline.
Michael Whitaker (England): Not considered for the Olympic selection, Michael nevertheless achieves the mythic Grand Prix of Aachen during the last two weekends and places himself 2nd at the GCT Grand Prix in Estoril.
Laura Kraut (USA): Laura was not selected among the Olympic participants for the U.S.A, but the partner of Nick Skelton and winner of the GP GCT in Chantilly in 2010, shows that she’s in great shape at the moment (1st in GP Geesteren GP, 2nd in Rotterdam GP and 6th in Aachen GP)
Among the French riders who were not selected for the Olympics:
Philippe Rozier just showed a great performance at the GP GCT of Estoril, double clear-round and 7th place, as well as Marc Dilasser and Jérôme Hurel (winner of the GP of Chantilly in 2007) who placed third with the French team at the Nations Cup of Falsterbo last weekend.
Patrice Delaveau has made it his task to take revenge for having to leave the French Olympic team due to an injury of his horse Orient Express*HDC; he is going to ride Ornela Mail*HDC in Chantilly.
At the age of sixty-four, Michel Robert, the winner of the GP EQUIDIA of Chantilly in 2010 has just won a 1m50 class in Monte Carlo with Nénuphar’Jac.