Aachen: Is It the Greatest Show on Earth?
RELEASE: July 3, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Louise Parkes
For many people, the answer is a resounding, "Yes!" CHIO Aachen, which this week presents the fifth leg of the 2008 Samsung Super League with FEI series, is a spectacular festival of horse activity with a long tradition of excellence, and the German town is already buzzing as the 2008 event has once more attracted huge crowds.
The history of the show dates back to 1898 when the Laurensberger Rennverein e. V Organization was founded by Arnold Deden, Gustav Rensing, and Hubert Wienen together with some local farmers and merchants. In 1923, the name was changed to Aachen Laurensberger Rennverein e.V, and the following year the first flat and hurdle races were staged. In 1925, there was a big tournament to celebrate the 1,000th year of the Rhineland when a total of 213 horses took part in riding, jumping, and driving competitions watched by 20,000 spectators. International
The show first became international in 1927 when eight nations participated, and two years later this had expanded to include 19 countries, but at the outbreak of the second World War the facilities were turned over to the Red Cross. Heavy bombing led to extensive damage, but a reconstruction program began in 1945 and it didn't take long for the popular fixture to become re-established and go from strength to strength. At the 1947 fixture just six nations lined out, but such was the growing prestige of the venue that it was only eight years later when the World Championships were staged there before a crowd of 55,000, while spectator numbers continued to increase rapidly with 175,000 people attending the show in 1957.
The scale of improvements to the showground was spectacular and the 60th Anniversary show in 1997 attracted 216,000 spectators to the stadium and 35,000 more to the forest of Aachen while equestrian sport's growing popularity provided over 37 hours of television transmission in Germany and more than 131 hours internationally in 111 countries.
However, few could ever have anticipated the enormous success of the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games when almost 800 athletes and their horses battled it out for 16 Gold medals in seven disciplines watched by 576,000 spectators in the packed stadiums, and by 1.6 billion television viewers worldwide. Germany led the medal table with six Gold, one Silver, and four Bronze medals followed by the USA and The Netherlands. It was a masterpiece of organization, and in the aftermath it was agreed that equestrian sport had moved onto a whole new level.Big Winners
The Aachen Nations Cup and Grand Prix titles have long been the most coveted in the sport of international show jumping and of course the home side has ensured that, in the majority of cases, the honors have remained at home.
In the 78-year history of the Nations Cup class, Germany has won 23 times, while next in line in terms of successes is the once-powerful force of Italy with a tally of 10. The Italians are also runners-up on the Grand Prix winners list which is led again by Germany with a total of 32 victories, but the last of the 10 Italian victories was recorded Major Piero d'Inzeo and Bally Black who shared the winner’s podium with Argentina's Dr. Miguel Arrambide way back in 1965.
Amongst the six Americans who have taken the Aachen Grand Prix title is George Morris, current team manager of the U.S. side that will line out in the Samsung Super League with FEI leg on Thursday night, and his comfort-zone may be all the better for the fact that amongst his squad are two former Aachen Grand Prix champions - Anne Kursinski who came out on top with Starman in 1991 and last year's winner Beezie Madden who headed the line-up with Authentic.Much to Do and See
Visitors to the "CHIO" (pronounced ‘cheeo’), as it is known locally, can take some time out to visit the Museum at the offices of the Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein e.V which includes arch