Germany’s Andre Thieme had a dreamy excursion in Rome this weekend for the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix at the Piazza di Siena paired with his A-list co-star, 13-year-old mare DSP Chakaria.

The tricky Uliano Vezzani (ITA) designed track saw 11 horses advance to a dramatic jump-off, where some bogey fences and difficult turns claimed the likes of Bryan Balsiger (SUI), Julian Epaillard (FRA) and Laura Kraut (USA). Yet Thieme was in the saddle of his 2021 European Championships Gold Medal mare, so there was no doubt in his mind when he saw the squeaky tight rollback to fence three and opportunities later in the track for an open gallop.

“When I heard a few people were slipping after the third fence I was thinking it would be faster if I go really tight and I think it was a good decision, I went full risk but I could trust her and I knew I was quick so I was careful at the second to last vertical and when I went through the finish and saw I was in the lead I was surprised. But when I came out everybody said that was probably it,” said Thieme.

The pair clocked in at 42.64 seconds, thrusting them into a league of their own against second place finisher Jens Fredricson’s (SWE) 45.19 seconds with 12-year-old gelding Markan Cosmopolit. Stephan De Freitas Barcha (BRA) would have to settle for third on the podium with 12-year-old mare Primavera Montana on 47.46. While their times weren’t exactly close, the trio did share certain synchronicities.

“Andre is German rider with a German horse, I’m a Swedish rider with a Swedish horse and Stephen is a Brazilian rider with a Brazilian horse here today,” Fredricson noted.

For Thieme, the connection to Chakaria goes beyond their shared homeland. She is his soulmate, as far as horses go.

“I have said many times that I love this horse as much as my wife, who accepts it!” laughed Thieme.

“She’s my horse of a lifetime, I know I will never get one like her again, and I’m trying to enjoy every horse show that I have with her. She is such a winner and such a clear-round machine. She has given me and my family and my groom so many special moments all around the world that I know I’m blessed with this horse,” said Thieme.

One of those many highlights was Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix at the Piazza di Siena, especially because Theime has planned a conservative year of showing in hopeful preparation for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

“This is my first time in Rome and the first time here at Piazza di Siena and I think I should never come back now because it can’t get any better,” laughed Thieme.

“[Chakaria] is our partner, and we are not showing much. We are trying to do as little as possible at shows to keep her as long as possible. The dream is to go to the Olympics once more time, because the last time (Tokyo 2020) it was my first big tournament and her first big tournament and it was a bit too early for me and for her. But it was great because three weeks later we became European champions. We enjoy every single day with her, she is that special,” Thieme explained.

Looking back at their record, the 2024 Olympics is more of a reasonable goal than a far-off dream. Over the course of their career the pair has accrued well over 1,000,000 Euro in prize money and sports a massive 66% clear round and 82% top ten finish rate at 1.60m. Their overall stats are just as impressive, with a 55% clear round and and 46% top ten finish rate across all heights.

Chakaria, affectionately known as Chaka, joined the Thieme family five years ago. When they qualified for 2020 Tokyo Olympics both individually and for the team, it was an ambitious test which came early in their development. With eight faults in the team class and a negligible result, Tokyo became a world class learning opportunity, and a warm-up for the 2021 European Championships.

In the village of Riesenbeck in his home country of Germany, Thieme and Chakaria got their medal. Rising to the top of the ranking amongst some of the best combinations in the world, Thieme shared the podium with second place finisher Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Leone Jei and third place finisher Peder Fredricson (SWE) and Catch Me Not S.

They’ve had a scattering of top results since, including team competitions like the CSIO5* Nations Cup of Poland in June of 2022 and then winning the CSIO5* Grand Prix in Falsterbo just one month later. This year, it was a CSI4*-W ranking class at Live Oak International that kicked off their winning fever once again and opened the door to Rome.

If their result in Rome is any indication of what’s to come, Paris 2024 has potential to be their storybook Olympic sequel.