Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt is riding an emotional rollercoaster. And he’s been on it for over a year now.
It started, as all great thrill rides do, with a slow climb to a sudden drop.
In July 2016, Wieshaupt straight free fell onto the international mainstage when he won his first major title, the Grand Prix of Aachen, riding LB Convall.
At just nine years old, it was the stallion’s third ever 5* Grand Prix. And they went first in what would prove to be an extremely challenging class. (Only 12 riders completed the course within the time allowed, none of which managed to leave all the jumps up).
“You don’t expect to win,” admitted Weishaupt. “It was a really big class there that year in Aachen.
“It was just supposed to be my day.”
Then came an unseating twist in their career trajectory.
Just two months after recording that career high, Convall was sidelined with an injury. Weishaupt’s promising young mount wouldn’t return to international competition until May 2017, some eight months later. The pair jumped in a handful of 2* and 3* European shows before returning to Calgary to contest the Spruce Meadows Summer Series in June—the same show he used to prepared so successfully for Aachen the year prior.
The pair looked on form, too, as they charged into those four weeks of 5* competition. In their first Grand Prix on Canadian soil, the grey stallion posted a single time fault.
Then came the second stomach dropping turn of events.
This time it was Weishaupt in the danger seat. The German rider fell severely ill and had to have emergency surgery to have his appendix removed while in Calgary.
“It feels now without the appendix much lighter,” joked the 32-year old.
By the third week of competition at Spruce Meadows, he was back riding under the famed clock tower. By week four, he and Convall took second in the Summer Series final and richest Grand Prix—the ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup—collecting just a single rail in the jump off after three gruelling rounds of jumping.
In the two months since, they’ve been riding a steep rush of successes. Weishaupt and Convall were double clear in the Aachen Nations Cup in July. They finished 12th individually at the European Championships in August. And, as of today, they’ve laid claim to a second major title: the CP International Grand Prix at the Spruce Meadows Masters tournament.
Weishaupt is now among an elite group of riders to have earned two of the three Rolex Grand Slam titles.
And like that first major in Aachen, the course in Calgary was a challenge of mammoth proportions. Weishaupt was one of only seven riders to go clear in the first round that included McLain Ward (USA), Luciana Diniz (POR), Lauren Hough (USA), Sameh El Dahan (EGY), Emilio Bicocchi (ITL) and Maikel van der Vleuten (NED).
But what would a wild ride be without one final jarring twist?
Just prior to contesting the second round, Convall stepped on his foot on landing in the warm up and threw a shoe.
Ironically, that set back may have been the difference between a first and third place finish. Weishaupt was originally slated to ride before Ward but was moved down in the order while the farrier reattached the shoe. After the American caught a rail with his big strided mare HH Azur at the B element of a tight triple combination, he advised Weishaupt to ride the line in nine strides instead of eight.
“Probably if I’d gone in the right order, I would have gone before McLain and I would have done one less [stride] to the combination and what happened to McLain’s horse would have happened to me,” said the German. “My horse has the same stride as McLain’s horse.”
Instead, he followed Ward’s advice—”I came super slow in, he nearly stopped before the combination, and still B was in my face”—and Weishaupt and Convall coasted to the finish as the day’s only double clear. Their prize: a one million dollar paycheck!
(Ward finished third behind Diniz.)
“I still can’t really believe it,” said a thrilled Weishaupt. “It feels really good.”
There are, no doubt, many more unexpected curves ahead for Weishaupt and Convall. But it’s one wild ride he’s clearly delighted to be on.
“Convall is just such an outstanding animal. I’m super honored to ride him,” he said. “It’s so much fun you just cannot believe it!”