The world’s top riders and horses congregated in Aachen, Germany last week (July 12-21) for the World Equestrian Festival Aachen CHIO – the world’s largest annual equestrian event – and to say it was exciting would be an understatement!
Although they host five disciplines at Aachen, our focus is on the two – jumping and dressage – that will be featured at the 2020 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas next April. The list of competitors in both these Olympic disciplines read like a who’s-who in the sport and the competition kept everyone on the edge of their seats from start to finish. The U.S. riders put on their A-game, scoring some big victories and new personal best scores.
The jumping was simply spectacular, complete with a nail-biting finish in front of a packed stadium of 40,000 spectators. U.S. rider Kent Farrington, team Silver medalist at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, again proved why he is a ‘Master of Faster,’ winning Aachen’s prestigious €1,000,000 Grand Prix with Gazelle. Determined not to come in second place like he did in 2014 (when he had the fastest round but with a dropped rail), Farrington produced two fantastic clear rounds over the Frank Rothenberger-designed courses which had many obstacles set at an impressive 1.70m. Farrington and Gazelle flew effortlessly over the jumps, ultimately finishing in the fastest time of 43.98 seconds to claim the win.
“It is such an impressive list of riders who have won the Grand Prix of Aachen. I am so proud to now be one of them!” said Farrington.
Farrington is now in the running for a €250,000 bonus if he goes on to win the Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows in September. The former world number one had a bad fall in 2018 which required surgery and he’s made it back to the top after a lot of hard work. “Gazelle has helped me fight my way back to the top again,” he remarked.
In second place was Germany’s Daniel Deusser, an Olympic bronze medalist and the 2014 FEI World Cup™ Champion, who currently leads the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Western European League rankings. Riding Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z, Deusser also jumped double clear, but had a slightly slower time of 44.35. Great Britain’s Ben Maher, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist who competed at the 2009 World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, had a faster time of 43.94 seconds with Explosion W, but a rail down left him in third place.
Double Olympic gold medalists McLain Ward, who won the World Cup Finals in 2017, and Beezie Madden, who won the Finals in 2018 and 2013, both had good rounds in the Grand Prix and finished in the top ten. Although it wasn’t to be for either of them on that day, both riders did win at Aachen. Ward clinched Saturday’s main feature, the Allianz-Prize, aboard Noche de Ronda, and Madden clinched the Sparkassen-Youngsters-Cup Final with Garant, a horse which Madden refers to as ‘Junior’ at home as he reminds her of her former top horse Authentic in terms of talent.
The Dressage competition was equally phenomenal and the Lambertz Nations Cup competition was fierce to say the least. The German team ultimately claimed its 38th Nations Cup victory on home ground with a final score of 489.77, while Denmark took silver with a team total of 457.515. The U.S. team of Adrienne Lyle, Katherine Bateson-Chandler, Steffen Peters and Shelly Francis fought to the end with superb performances and were rewarded with a total score of 450.775 for the bronze medal.
Olympic and World Equestrian Games veteran Adrienne Lyle earned the highest scores for the U.S. aboard Salvino. The pair placed eighth in the Grand Prix with a score of 76.870% and seventh in the Grand Prix Special with 76.745%.
Teammate Steffen Peters, a three-time Olympic bronze medalist and the 2009 FEI World Cup champion, was hot on Lyle’s heels in the Grand Prix, earning a score of 75.848% for ninth place with Suppenkasper. They followed with a 74.872 percent in the Grand Prix Special for 12th place.
WEG veteran Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Alcazar also put in strong performances, earning 72.674% in the Grand Prix followed by 73.766% in the Grand Prix Special. It was an emotional return to Aachen for Bateson-Chandler, as Alcazar suffered a life-threatening colic episode at Aachen three years ago which required surgery to save him.
Shelly Francis and Danilo, the horse she rode to a 12th place finish at the 2018 World Cup Finals, produced a Grand Prix score of 70.826 percent and a Grand Prix Special score of 65.532 percent at Aachen.
Both Lyle and Bateson-Chandler posted career personal-best scores in the Grand Prix Freestyle to Music. Lyle and Salvino placed sixth with a score of 83.560%, which surpassed their 2019 World Cup Final score of 81.832% to become the top placed American combination at Aachen. Bateson-Chandler scored a personal best score of 77.690% in the Freestyle to finish in 12th place.
Isabell Werth, the most decorated Olympic equestrian in history with 10 medals (six gold and four silvers) and a four-time FEI World Cup Champion (2019, 2018, 2017, 2007), dominated the competition from start-to-finish aboard her 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) gold-medal winning partner Bella Rose, winning the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special for the Nations Cup. To top it off, Werth celebrated her 50th birthday on the last day in winning style, dancing to another victory with Bella Rose in the Freestyle, scoring 90.450% and becoming only the sixth horse-and-rider combination in history to be awarded at least 90%.
The Aachen roster included numerous World Cup Final competitors, many of whom will be at the 2020 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas next April 15-19. If you haven’t reserved your tickets yet, be sure to join the World Cup Club today. Membership is free and it will give you an inside edge on getting the best available seats for the Finals. Through August 15, members of the World Cup Club have an exclusive opportunity to purchase All-Session tickets. To take advantage of this exclusive opportunity, go to www.worldcuplasvegas.com/world-cup-club right now – everyone is welcome to join! Not only will you have exclusive access to the All-Session tickets, as a World Cup Club member you will also get the latest breaking news, host hotel updates, hospitality information and much more!
All-Session Ticket Packages are available as follows:
*Additional fees may apply
All VIP ticket holders will have access to the impressive Taylor Harris Club presented by Lugano Diamonds which will be an amazing experience. Located in the brand new Strip View Pavilion, the new 36,000 square-foot, two-story magnificent VIP space has an outdoor patio overlooking the stabling area with spectacular views of the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. Access to the Taylor Harris Club, presented by Lugano Diamonds will provide:
- VIP seating in the first four rows of the venue
- Easy access from seats to the VIP area
- VIP Food & Beverage
- Live music
- An exclusive entrance to the venue for VIPs only
- Large screen TVs so no one has to miss any action
- Complimentary World Cup Souvenir Program
- Complimentary Day Sheets
The Thomas & Mack Center will be the place next April for equestrian sports’ biggest annual championship. Please join me in The Entertainment Capital of the World, April 15-19, 2020, fort a week you’ll never forget!
Further information on the 2020 FEI World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas, and the chance to join the World Cup Club, is available at the event’s official website at www.WorldCupLasVegas.com.