If you’ve been wondering what the ‘CHF’ stands for before prize money offerings in this year’s big Wellington International Grand Prix classes, you’re not alone. 

Take, for instance, Ben Maher’s win last week under the lights in Saturday’s CHF 216,00 CSI 4* NetJets Grand Prix. What exactly does that mean? How much did he win?

We went right to the top—Wellington International President Michael Stone—for the scoop. 

What it is…

‘CHF’ is the official currency of Switzerland (and also Liechtenstein and the Italian exclave of Campione d’Italia, if you want to impress your trivia friends). The only franc remaining in Europe, it was first introduced in 1850, and is currently valued at 0.9 the U.S. dollar. Meaning, Ben won CHF 216,000, but really pocketed a good deal more cash, since that purse equated to U.S. $237,395 at press time.

Why the switch?

“The FEI rankings and star levels [i.e. CSI 1* 2* 3*, etc.] are based on money, and each year, the FEI issue the levels in each [country’s] currency,” explains Stone. “In the past number of years, the amount of prizemoney in, say, a high-ranking point grand prix has increased for U.S. events at a higher rate than Swiss or European events.

“For example, an AA-ranked class in the U.S. has to give away almost $126,000 more in prize money than the equivalent class is Switzerland. When this was questioned with [the FEI], they suggested that we put the prize money in Swiss Francs.”

Is it working?

Yes and no.

“At the time [we made the switch], the exchange rate was approximately 1 : 1 so we kept last year’s prize money rates and just used Swiss Francs,” Stone says. “This seemed like a simple solution, except having approved the schedules, the FEI said we had to use the exchange rate at the time of approval.” 

The hitch? Exchange rates, as we know, can vary. 

“It can become quite difficult for anyone to know the exact rate of each week,” says Stone. “Consequently, we are going to go back to U.S. [dollars] after the next couple of weeks [in Wellington].”

There you have it! CHF, we barely knew thee. But if and when you visit the Italian exclave of Campione d’Italia, we’re happy we could help with your trip planning.