CHIO Aachen spoke to Olympic champion Nick Skelton about the day he won the Grand Prix in Soers and thus his first ‘Rolex Major’, about Big Star and about his life today.
When the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping was launched in 2013, Aachen was the first stage. The first winners were Nick Skelton and Big Star. Three years later, the duo became Olympic champions and soon after, the Briton announced that he was retiring along with the superstar. What does Skelton do today? How is the big star? CHIO Aachen spoke to Nick Skelton about the past, present and future.
How are you now? Are you still working day in and day out, or are you enjoying your well-deserved sporting retirement?
No no. I spend a lot of time coaching and helping Laura (Krout, his partner, editor’s note) or our students. This winter I also took on horse management with a family from Canada who have many horses in major sports.
In 2013, after the introduction of the Rolex Grand Slam series, I was the first rider to win the Major. What are your memories of that day and the triumph here in Aachen?
It was a very special day in 2013. Winning my first Rolex Grand Slam event was special. I always have great memories of this place. For me, Aachen is the best tournament in the world, like Wimbledon in tennis or the Masters in golf. It’s just a special place. I was fortunate enough to win the Rolex Grand Prix four times. The first time was in 1982. Then in 1987 and 1988 and then I had to wait 25 years for that special day in 2013.
Scott Brush is the only rider to date to win a Rolex Grand Slam – do you think anyone else would pull off this feat?
it’s hard. But that is the beauty of it. Just look at McLain Ward. He has already won two majors and is eyeing Aachen. I mean it’s hard, yeah. But with a special horse like Azure or King Edward (The Horse by Henrik von Eckermann Editor’s note) – for example – it is possible. These are very special horses. I wish I had a big show jumping star. First on my agenda will be the Rolex Grand Slam!
With Big Star, she won not only Aachen in 2013, but also two Olympic gold medals. 2012 with the team and 2016 individually. Was Big Star the best horse you’ve ever had?
Yes. I think he was the best horse I have ever seen. He has won many Grand Prix races. He was a very special horse and above all fast. And he really liked the atmosphere in Aachen.
With your four victories, you are also the Aachen record holder for the Rolex Grand Prix – along with Piero D’Enzio – do you think this record will be broken one day?
You just have to be young enough to win first place. I was 25 when I first won and then it took a long time. But in sports all records are eventually broken. It probably will happen someday. But it’s still very nice to be the only one who made it and I feel very proud. And as I said: for me, Aachen is the best tournament in the world.
Is it difficult for you to come to Aachen as a spectator?
No no. This is totally fine for me. I took my time and am very happy with what I have achieved. I am always happy to be in Aachen and watch sports. It’s always a great tournament. And again this year there are many good groups for horse riders. Laura can also win with Baloutinue. This horse jumps well and Aachen would suit him well. This is our goal.
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