This morning in a luxury hotel somewhere in Calgary, Alberta, a CP International exec rolled out of his California King, tossed aside a thousand thread count sheet, and thought to himself:
“You know, what would make the $2 Million CP International Grand Prix even better today? If the winner was holding a giant million dollar check in the ring.”
He probably paused then and smiled as he took a sip of his espresso.
“You know what, f*** it, let’s make it a $3 Million Grand Prix.”
And so history was made in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows at the Masters Tournament.
For the first time ever a grand prix winner was awarded a cool million for their efforts. The lucky recipient of that surprise $440,000 dollar pay raise: defending champion Scott Brash (GBR).
“It was a wonderful surprise,” said the chuffed rider.
Brash is no stranger to big pay days. Last year, he won the $1.5 Million CP International and made history when he became the first rider to ever consecutively capture the three majors—Geneva, Aachen, and Calgary. The near impossible feat earned him the Rolex Grand Slam title and a €1 Million bonus from Rolex.
The famed Hello Sanctos was partner at the time. This year, Ursula XII carried the Scottish rider to the winner’s circle.
Competing with Brash at Spruce Meadows for the first time, they were the only pair to post three clear rounds over Leopoldo Palacios demanding course. The victory comes on the heels of their second place finish in the Aachen Grand Prix in July.
“I’m really happy for Ursula. She’s always been an unbelievable horse but probably never had the recognition she deserves,” said Brash.
“She was the number one horse in the world but had never actually won a grand prix [before today]. She’s been second so many times…So to go through two years of injuries and then finally get back to the top end of the sport to win the biggest grand prix in the world, I’m absolutely over the moon.”
The former world number one is now only the second rider to ever capture back-to-back wins in the storied class. (Rodrigo Pessoa did it in 2000 and 2001 with Gandini Lianos.) He’s also the first to do it on two different horses.
The victory is a welcome cap on a disappointing season that forced the 2012 Olympic team gold medalist to sit out the Rio Games.
“This year has been quite tough for me and my team. Sanctos picked up a small injury at the beginning of the year but that put him out all year really. When horses are older, it does take them longer to come back and get into shape,” said Brash.
“It’s kept us off the top stage for most of the season.”
With Sanctos is back in work now and “feeling great” and a surplus of prize money in his pocket, Brash is now headed to Turks and Caicos for a well-earned vacation.
“A bonus like this always goes back into the horses. I’ve just bought a yard in London. Trust me, that costs a lot of money. I’ve been building facilities for my horses—an indoor school, an outdoor school. Now I’m going to build a canter track for them. We’ll call it the CP International,” he quipped.
With the Grand Slam officially in play for Brash once again is a second title in the cards?
Not likely, he says.
“Listen I’m a dead realist,” said Brash. “I’ll try my very best but it is very difficult. You could go 20 or 30 years before it’s done again.”
McLain Ward (USA) and HH Azur were the only other combination to post a double clear in the CP International. A rail in the jump off put them in second place. Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca and Ensor de Litrange LXII captured third with a time fault in the second round.