Journey Back In Time Attended by Equestrian Legends
"Aachen was always my equestrian homeland. I enjoyed every second here in the show jumping stadium," comments equestrian legend, Hans Günter Winkler. The same applied for the many thousands of visitors at the Opening Ceremony of the World Equestrian Festival, CHIO Aachen 2006 (May 17th-21st), on Wednesday evening. The nostalgic journey back through the past five decades of Aachen's equestrian history provided the opportunity for a reunion with many sport stars: From Hans Günter Winkler, Nelson Pessoa and Piero d´Inzeo, to George Morris, Hugo Simon (all show jumpers) through to Harry Boldt (dressage) and Bernhard Duen (driving).
Many of them won the renowned Grand Prix of Aachen - and all could be experienced live in the show jumping arena of the Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein (ALRV). This time they didn't have to rely on horsepower, instead they drove round the course in Mercedes-Benz old-timers. Following the motto "50 years plus 1" this year the ALRV is - in addition to the current competitions of course - featuring the sport's history from the first World Championships in 1955 at the Soers, when Hans Günter Winkler won the show jumping title, to the World Equestrian Games in seven equestrian disciplines Aachen 2006 (August 20th- September 3rd).
"How time flies," remarked ALRV President, Klaus Pavel. "All the more reason for us to be pleased that so many equestrian legends have found their way back to the Soers, where they were able to celebrate such great victories, or even had to accept certain defeats." However, on Wednesday evening there was nothing but reason to celebrate. Aachen's Lord Mayor, Dr. Jürgen Linden spoke of a "cheerful and light-hearted folk festival". The audience applauded enthusiastically as Elvis Presley gave his best rendition of "Jailhouse Rock" on the big screen and 50 small impersonators on ponies performed a dance on the grass. As children in colourful dresses brought back the images of the "Girls from Immenhof" or plenty of historical costumes and uniforms were shown off.
But of course the sport itself was the focal point. Quite a few "Do you remembers?" could be heard coming from the crowds, as old competitions celebrated their short-term comeback at the Soers. From classical side-saddle dressage to driving in historical carriages through to pair jumping, commented by experts in their field such as Hans Günter Winkler or Harry Boldt. During the puissance jumping, many an equestrian fan held his breath as the horses managed to jump over the 1.9 m fence with ease. Meanwhile the pop singer from Düren, Margot Eskens, enchanted the visitors with a medley of her greatest hits from the 1950s and 60s. Over the next few days, further equestrian history will be written at the CHIO Aachen 2006 with its current competitions.
The Official Website for Aachen CHIO - A prelude to the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games
Previous coverage of Aachen CHIO of HorsesDaily.com