Gregory Wathelet & Coree, winners of the 2017 Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen. ph: Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping
After winning the first major in the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping at CHIO Aachen this July, Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet is primed and ready to take on the $3 Million CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex at Spruce Meadows in Alberta, Canada.
Wathelet is the current contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. If he were to capture three consecutive grand prix victories at CHIO Aachen, the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, and CHI Geneva, Wathelet would become the second rider in history, behind Great Britain’s Scott Brash, to accomplish such a feat. The winner of the CP International will be awarded $1 million in prize money.
For the Sunday, September 10, 2017 feature event, Wathelet will be pairing up with the 8-year-old KWPN stallion Eldorado De Hus Ebel (Diardo x Balou Du Rouet Z).
Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping: Your win in the 2017 Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen was your first major victory. Was it a special milestone in your career?
Grégory Wathelet: Definitely. It’s the dream of every rider to be eternalised on the winners board in Aachen, and for me, it is something really special to have my name on that list. A major victory is different [from] other grand prix victories. [It’s] something that everyone has respect for and everyone congratulates you [on]. Seeing my team and my horse owners so happy in Aachen was the best feeling in the world.
RGSOS: With this victory, your journey in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has now begun.
GW: I am delighted to take on this challenge! It was a great thing for us riders when the Grand Slam was brought into being. After all, it unites the best shows in the world. Everyone tries to perform even better and ride a little stronger in the Majors. I now have the opportunity to really prove myself in the Grand Slam, and I am very much looking forward to the coming legs.
RGSOS: What would you say is special about the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament?
GW: It is a very exceptional show in a place that we riders actually aren’t used to any more. The atmosphere is unique, full of history and tradition, as is the case in Aachen, for example. Spruce Meadows is nevertheless different than all the other Grand Slam Majors. The obstacles are built differently and the course design is extraordinary. Everything appears bigger and mightier, for the horses too. You need a horse that isn’t overwhelmed by these dimensions. That’s why I will rely on “Eldorado”. He already demonstrated his quality in Calgary last year, and in the meantime, we have added several good results to the list at other shows. He is a horse that can jump over everything, anywhere.
“I simply want to be as good in the ring as I can and then I’ll see what happens.”
RGSOS: The Rolex Grand Prix is on September 10th, a day that doubles as your birthday. What do you want for your birthday?
GW: The victory, of course! (laughing). It is pure coincidence that these two events fall on the same day, but I try not to think about it too much. I simply want to be as good in the ring as I can and then I’ll see what happens. The class will be difficult, the competition will be tough. To be honest, my chance of winning the Grand Prix is exactly as high or low as it is for any of the other riders. Everyone wants to win, and everyone will compete with their best horse. But, I will certainly exploit my chance to the full; I don’t want to regret anything later. I will arrive in Calgary with top-trained horses and will fight hard to make sure that September 10th is going to be a really big day for me!