Rolex & the Alltech FEI world equestrian games 2014 in Normandy

By MyWatch

Rolex’s impressive sponsorship portfolio includes four of the world’s most highly- regarded Show Jumping events that bear witness to the finest riders the sport has ever seen. The ‘Majors’, as it is most commonly known, comprise of the three leading Show Jumping Grand Prix, for which Rolex is proud to be title sponsor.

Notwithstanding the salubrious reputation Rolex has with Show Jumping, Rolex also captivates the disciplines of Eventing and Dressage with such prestige and stature that the Rolex Grand Slam of Eventing and the Global Dressage Festival, for example, need no introduction. The brand’s iconic association with the World Equestrian Games dates back to 2002 in Jerez De La Frontera, where the world’s elite riders come together to compete in the hope of earning themselves the coveted World Champion title.

Rolex will be at the very forefront of this year’s World Equestrian Games, based around the city of Caen, where a record number of 72 nations intend to take part.

The exceptional bond that Rolex and the World Equestrian Games share has no doubt been instrumental in attracting 12 countries to make their World Equestrian Games debut this year; a glorious achievement for the development of the sport on a global scale.

• 8 official disciplines
• 15 days
• 72 nations
• 1,000 competitors
• 1,000 horses
• 27 podiums
• 7 official competition venues
• 300 exhibitors
• 300 photographers
• 1,200 journalists
• 3,000 volunteers
• 12,000 accreditations
• 500,000 spectators
• 500 million TV viewers

As the Rolex Testimonees prepare for one of the biggest events on the Equestrian calendar, they reveal their favourite memories of past World Equestrian Games:

Eric Lamaze
“My favourite moment was in Kentucky in 2010 when I knew I had made it through to the Final Four with Hickstead. With the format of the World Equestrian Games, you could have the best week of your life, and then have two rails down on the last day and be out of it. You never know until it’s over, and making it to the Final Four was my best memory of any World Equestrian Games.
That Hickstead went on to jump four clear rounds for each of his riders and earn the ‘Best Horse’ title made me very proud. I was so happy for the horse. Knowing he earned that title is a great memory.”

Steve Guerdat
“Although I made my World Equestrian Games debut in 2010, it wasn’t a great competition for me. My best World Equestrian Games memory is of Rodrigo Pessoa winning the individual title in 1998. I was 16 and watched it at home in Switzerland on the television. Rodrigo was one of my idols, and I thought, ‘I want to do that.’ And the Swiss rider Willi Melliger was one of the four riders in the final jump-off, the sight of his big white horse Calvaro V jumping clear round after clear round was amazing. Calvaro was a very special horse with a great way of jumping and it was really interesting to watch him – and watch these famous riders jumping each other’s horses.”

Rodrigo Pessoa
“My best World Equestrian Games memory comes from Rome in 1998. I had only been riding Lianos since the beginning of that year, but we did very well in the months leading up to it and I had a good feeling about it. But you never know how a world championship is going to work out.
We jumped two good rounds in the Nations Cup, so I started to believe what might be possible. Lianos jumped clear in the individual second round and we found ourselves in the final – which in itself is a great achievement. The final – where the top four riders swap horses – is a very particular class, and I was competing against riders who were 10 years older than me and much more experienced. But I had nothing to lose, so I went in with a very positive attitude. My round on Willi Melliger’s Calvaro V was probably the best feeling I’ve ever had on a horse and I’ll never forget those 10 jumps. And I was crowned world champion. It was extremely special.”

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum
“I’ve had two great experiences at the World Equestrian Games. I won team and individual bronze at Aachen in 2006 with my great horse Shutterfly, which was very special, but my most wonderful memory is winning gold as part of the German team on Checkmate in Kentucky in 2010. It was only six months after my daughter Brianne was born, and I had been told I wouldn’t make the team that year. I won the German Championships, they put me on the team and we won gold! Being a native American, a gold medal in my country of birth was amazing.”

Pippa Funnell
“My favourite World Equestrian Games memory is of Kentucky in 2010. I went there with a young horse, Redesigned, and he answered every question put to him, which was fantastic. There is some anxiety in going to the first major event with an inexperienced horse. You ask yourself, will he cope with the atmosphere’ Is he ready for the demands of a world championship’ It was incredibly special when he went so well and finished fifth individually. It’s still the highlight of his career so far. The cross-country was beautiful – a real championship course – and very exciting to ride round. The venue there is spectacular with a wonderful atmosphere, and it’s a real privilege to ride at a World Equestrian Games. I loved going and watching the other disciplines as well.”

Zara Phillips
“After winning double gold at the European Championships in 2005, I went to the World Equestrian Games in Aachen in 2006 trying to back up what we’d achieved the year before but on the world stage against the best of the best. Aachen is like Wimbledon or Twickenham – an incredible sporting venue with a very knowledgeable crowd. There was such a feeling of relief when I jumped the final show jump and knew I had won. I had known I was sitting on a great horse, and it’s amazing when you put that much faith in someone else and it all turns out. We were a partnership and carried each other through a pretty emotional week. I’ve learnt that you need to savour the good moments in equestrian sport because there are so many highs and lows, and this was the most incredible high.”

Isabell Werth
“My greatest World Equestrian Games memory comes from Aachen in 2006. There was a big story round my participation – I was qualified to go with Warum Nicht, but he injured himself just beforehand and I was allowed to take Satchmo. That made me very happy. I think that the World Equestrian Games in Aachen was the greatest championship ever, outside the Olympic Games, and the whole atmosphere was outstanding. I rode into this huge stadium with 50,000 people watching, and it flashed up on the screen showing that Anky van Grunsven was in gold medal position. I thought, ‘we’ll see!’ To pull off individual and team gold for Germany in my home country was a perfect moment.”

  • ©RolexKit Houghton
  • ©RolexKit Houghton