Aachen competition: our Antarès riders look ahead to Paris 2024
18 July 2023
18 July 2023
The Aachen competition is nothing short of 5 disciplines, 350,000 spectators from all over the world, 950 horses, and 350 riders participating in this international event. The CHIO in Aix-la-Chapelle is one of the major competitions in Germany, highly regarded by many international riders. It’s the perfect opportunity to meet some of our Antarès riders present on-site.
Sarah Ennis, Lara de Liedekerke, Robin Godel, Liz Halliday Sharp, and Phillip Dutton took the time to talk to us about their horses, their upcoming goals for this season, with the ultimate aim – we hope for them – being Paris 2024.
The CHIO is a true institution in Germany. The equestrian atmosphere is present throughout the city during this event. The best riders come to compete at the highest level. There’s a sense of Olympic rehearsal at the Aachen competition. This is confirmed by our Antarès riders, Phillip and Liz:
“Aachen is incredible. The audience is refined and cultured. The quality of the horses, the stands, and the time spent here are very impressive. We brought some Z owners along to have a good time. The supporters are also present.”
“This is probably my favorite event. I’m very happy to come back here. It’s simply fabulous. It’s like being at the Olympic Games with all these excellent riders. I think the eventing competition hasn’t seen such good results in many years. The competition will be tight, but I have a great horse, Miks Master C.”
Robin Godel, who is participating in this legendary competition, appreciates the great atmosphere that prevails there and the support of the audience.
“It’s truly an incredible competition, the audience is there and behind us. These are horse people, and the world that is here is truly impressive. You can look at the stands and walkways on a weekday morning, and they’re already full. In the evening, the grandstands are packed.”
As the events take place in the same location, it’s an opportunity for eventing riders to discover new disciplines.
“And for us, as event riders, it’s also great to be with riders from other disciplines. In many competitions, we’re only surrounded by fellow eventers, so it’s really cool to be all together here. It’s also interesting to see others working, whether it’s show jumping, dressage, or driving. It’s truly something different.”
On the other hand, Sarah Ennis is accustomed to the Aachen competition but never tires of this venue.
“It’s incredible. It’s a competition you always want to participate in and bring your owners to. It’s world-class. I’ve been very fortunate; I’ve already been here twice, so I know what to expect. It’s simply magnificent. It’s amazing, and you compete against the best in the world.”
However, it’s a big first for her mare:
“Action Lady is a nine-year-old bay mare. Suzanne Mac bred her, and her partner, Andrew Cox, now owns her. They are both present in Aix-la-Chapelle. Their son has horses participating in show jumping. Dressage is not her strong suit, but she is usually a good jumper and fast in cross-country. So, I hope that we can place among the best in dressage and continue to improve. But she is only nine years old, and this is only the second year we are competing in the short four-star level. She hasn’t done a long four-star yet.”
Lara, who finishes 10th in the 5* competition at Aachen, seems very satisfied with her horse, Ducati D’arville, after the dressage phase.
“It’s a dream to come back every year. I believe that’s why we work all year round, to participate in competitions like here in Aachen. It’s a goal to have a horse that arrives in good shape for a competition like this. He did very well in dressage this morning. Since Belgium only has individuals, we went quite strong at the beginning of the event, so I don’t know if the scores will increase as the day goes on. My horse was completely up to the task, and I’m looking forward to the show jumping later and, of course, the cross-country tomorrow. He’s a very versatile and reliable horse, as long as his rider doesn’t make too many mistakes. Generally, he performs well in all three tests. That’s why I brought him here, and I hope he will be ranked. In any case, those are the ambitions I came with.”
The approach of the Olympic Games is a deadline that our Antarès riders have in mind. The events will take place from July 26 to August 11, 2024, in Paris. Even if some of them are not qualified, they have a clear plan in mind. The stages in Pau or Le Pin Stud will allow them to compete in 4 and 5-star events.
“Of course. I mean, everyone would like to participate in the Olympic Games, and it would be quite special in Paris, I think. So, it’s partly a stepping stone, even if it’s not a direct qualification. Obviously, it’s a major competition at a high level, and that’s why we’re striving to excel here, and a good result can only be encouraging.”
“Ducati D’arville is not qualified for the European Championships at Le Pin Stud. So, he will try to qualify later in the year to be eligible for Paris. But it’s a real objective. And I have three horses that will compete in the long four-star, so I hope to have five qualified for Paris. I’m aiming high, and then I hope for the best. First, Belgium needs to qualify, but they are on the right track. Belgium is leading in the Nation Cup circuit, so we need to continue this work. But in any case, we all believe and support the goal of bringing a team to Paris. And then, of course, being selected afterwards.”
Since the Swiss team is already qualified, Robin admits to feeling more at ease regarding his preparation for the Olympic Games in Paris.
“We are fortunate to have qualified the team last year at the World Championships for the Paris Games, so that’s already a great accomplishment. We are more at ease. This year, for the European Championships, we aim for a team podium, and I also aim for a top five or an individual podium. And then, of course, next year, the Paris Games, we have been preparing for them for two or three years now.”
As Liz and Phillipe finish 5th and 6th, respectively, in the Aachen competition, they are followed by Lara in 10th place, then Robin in 23rd, and finally Sarah in 31st.
We wish our Antarès riders continued success in their season preparation and qualification for the Olympic Games.