It’s Rolex Grand Slam time again!
The first Major of 2017 kicks off in Germany this week with the CHIO Aachen. You know what that means! It’s time for our favorite press release of the year—the requisite Q&A with the current Rolex Grand Slam contender. In the coveted hot seat after victory in Geneva last year: Brazil’s Pedro Veniss. Let’s hear what the 34-year-old Olympian has to say about childhood dreams come true, his summer in Calgary and the most loveable horse in the world.
Rolex: Your Major victory in Geneva was six months ago. How have you and Quabri de l’Isle been doing since then?
Pedro Veniss: It is always still a fantastic feeling when I think back. I will remember this victory eternally. It was one of the most important in my career so far. After Geneva, we gave Quabri a time-out from the sport and he was only implemented as a stud stallion. Afterwards, we took part at a few smaller shows and gradually worked our way back up. Versailles in May was our first big five star event after Geneva.
Rolex: And that is where you won the “Rolex Grand Prix”!
Veniss: Yes, that was super! Quabri already showed that he is in good shape there. But to prepare him for Aachen as well as possible, I have spent June in Spruce Meadows with him and took part in the Summer Series. The huge grass arenas in Aachen and Spruce Meadows are very special, you don’t find hardly anything like it anywhere else in the world. Philipp Weishaupt and LB Convall were also in Calgary last summer—and they subsequently won in Aachen. So, I am hoping the plan will work just as well for me.
[Editor’s note: No one uses “subsequently” in casual conversation. Just saying.]
Rolex: How do you assess your chances of winning?
Veniss: In Quabri I have a wonderful partner under the saddle, who is up to every task. A horse that you can win the big classes with! He doesn’t have any bad days, always gives his best, whatever event we are at, and he loves competing. His mentality is simply incredible and he is also the most loveable horse in the world too. I am extremely lucky to be able to ride him and I certainly think he is capable of winning in Aachen. But I have to be just as good on that day too!
It is going to be the first time you have ever competed in Aachen. What do you think is awaiting you?
Veniss: Coming from Brazil, let me put it like this: Aachen is the Maracanã of equestrian sports! As a child, it was always my dream to ride in Aachen one day. I already had the opportunity to do so when I was only 23 years old during the World Equestrian Games in 2006 as a member of the Brazilian team. But, unfortunately, my horse sustained an injury a week beforehand. So, it is an even more unique feeling that this dream is finally coming true.
What do you think the moment is going to be like when you ride into the Main Stadium in Aachen for the first time?
Veniss: It is going to be an unforgettable experience! I think, all of the stages of my career that actually brought me to Aachen will pass in front of my eyes again. My family will be in the crowd and will cheer me on. It is going to be a really, really special show for me and I am going to give it my very best shot to win the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday!
And now, a word from our press release’s sponsor…
The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping unites the Majors in Aachen (GER), Geneva (SUI), Calgary (CAN) and ‘s-Hertogenbosch (NED) in the challenge for the most prestigious and most difficult-to-win trophy on the international equestrian sport circuit. The rider, who triumphs at three shows in succession, wins the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping—together with one million Euros on top of the prize-money. Should a rider win the fourth Major in direct succession after claiming the Grand Slam victory, he doubles his Grand Slam bonus up to two million Euros.Two Major victories within a Grand Slam cycle are rewarded with 250,000 Euros or 500,000 Euros, if the victories occur at two consecutive legs of the Grand Slam. Scott Brash (GBR) is the only rider in history to capture the Grand Slam to-date: He won in Geneva in 2014 as well as in Aachen and Calgary in 2015.