“It can hardly get any better” – virtually all the world’s leading riders are in the STUTTGART GERMAN MASTERS line up

Numerous innovations and changes are leaving their mark on the face of the 21st International STUTTGART GERMAN MASTERS Horse Show. And the entry list makes it very obvious that the measures have been met with wide approval by the main performers, the riders. “It’s overwhelming just how big the interest of the top stars is for our show. We can quite rightly say that we’ve got virtually all the world’s leading riders in the line-up here, especially in the show jumping,” said a contented Andreas Kroll, managing director of “in.Stuttgart”. This, continued Kroll “is particularly pleasing as we really can guarantee our audience equestrianism of the highest class.”

The entry list for the ten international jumping competitions does actually read like the Who’s Who of show jumping. “We’ve got eight of the world’s ten best riders lining up in the discipline,” declared horse show director Gotthilf Riexinger, “including the current Olympic champion, the current European Champion as well as the current World Cup winner. And almost all of them are bringing their top horses with them – it can hardly get any better.” Heading the entry list is World No 1 Marcus Ehning (Germany). A two-time Olympic team champion and European team champion, he has already been able to secure the MERCEDES GERMAN MASTER on three occasions (1999, 2002, 2004) and will do everything possible to win the MERCEDES-BENZ, ALLIANZ and LANDESBANK BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG Stuttgart Grand Prix. Ehning has to however share the favourite’s role with other top stars in the jumping saddle. Brazilian Rodrigo Pessoa the Olympic champion and world No 2 will be competing for victories, prize money and World Cup points just like the number three in the FEI rankings, Markus Fuchs from Switzerland. Others in with a good chance are four-time Olympic champion Ludger Beerbaum (Germany), Dutchman Gerco Schröder as well as the European champion and Olympic bronze medal winner Marco Kutscher (Germany). All four are also ranked in the Top Ten.

Women riders have also traditionally had a big say when the most important title in the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle was up for grabs. Leading the group of strong female riders is the World No 4 and FEI World Cup Jumping title holder Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum from Germany. Following right on her heels is the two-time winner of the LADIES GERMAN MASTER (2002, 2004), the Irishwoman Jessica Kuerten. In 2003, the jumping world’s No 6 also succeeded in having her name inscribed in the list of winners of this important competition for women riders. Pia-Luise Aufrecht from close by Affalterbach can also be certain of the support of the Stuttgart public. The 27-year-old showed recently that she is in impressive form when winning the bronze medal at the German Championships as well as gaining second place in the Nations Cup final in Barcelona. One can also rightly call Swiss woman Christina Liebherr a local hero for the two-fold silver medal winner at the European Championships in San Patrignano was born in Stuttgart.

Riexinger is also able to announce excellent fields for the four other equestrian disciplines. “We’ll without a doubt enjoy great dressage competitions,” promises Riexinger. Lining up in the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle will be three riders – Heike Kemmer, Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff and Hubertus Schmidt (all Germany) – that belonged to the gold medal winning team at the European Championships held in Hagen, Germany in July. Another rider counting amongst the top contenders for titles and prize money is however Edward Gal, who comes to Stuttgart as the European Championships team silver medallist and runner up at the World Cup final in Las Vegas. Like the second Dutch rider in the field, Kirsten Beckers, Gal also made dressage history this year at the CHIO in Aachen when, as members of their country’s team, they ended the German team’s unbeaten series in Aachen which stretched back to 1977. Figuring likewise in the world Top Ten is the Dane Andreas Helgstrand as well as dressage queen and crowd favourite Isabell Werth, who already has four MASTER victories (1996-1999) to her credit. The Stuttgart audience also loves its local hero Martin Schaudt. An Olympic team champion in 1996 and 2004, he provided one of the real highlights last year when setting a new world record. This year he will go into the competition for the KAMPMANN GERMAN MASTER as title defender for the first time.

The top favourite for an amazing twelfth MASTER title in a row is without a doubt “Mr Driving” Michael Freund (Germany). He will want to maintain his aura of invincibility in Stuttgart with another win in the SCHENKER GERMAN MASTER, which is again a part of the World Cup series. But Freund is up against tough opposition in the likes of the two team world champions from Hungary József Dobrovitz and Zoltán Lázár, the Swiss Daniel Würgler as well as Christoph Sandmann and Max Dangel (both Germany). And the vaulting competitions also promise to be something special. As title defender, the burden of being favourite will no doubt be borne by world champion Nicola Ströh (Germany) and the world and European champion Kai Vorberg (Germany). Also in with a good chance are European champion Anja Barwig (Germany) and two-time VAULTING GERMAN MASTER winner Jan Bayer (Germany). Anette Renkl and Andreas Kumpf (both Germany) will seek to make full use of their “home advantage” and they can also be sure of having the crowd behind them. Two further internationally successful vaulting pairs, Austrians Sissi Jarz and Stefan Csandl plus the Swiss Marion Graf and Patrick Looser will also be battling it out for the title.

Nail biting sport is also guaranteed by the Indoor Derby – the indoor eventing competition on Wednesday evening. Lining up will be the Belgian Karin Donckers, the current No 4 in the eventing world rankings, the world No 6 Andreas Dibowski (Germany) and Frank Ostholt (Germany), who is ninth on the FEI rankings. Another rider seen to have a good chance of winning is Ingrid Klimke (Germany), the 2005 European Championships bronze medal winner in Blenheim, England. Along with Dibowski and Ostholt, she represented the German event riders’ colours at the Athens Olympic Games. Nicolas Touzaint (France) and Jeanette Brakewell the Olympic team champion and the Olympic silver medal winner with the British team respectively will also tackle the course in the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle. Derby experienced show jumpers also traditionally attempt the spectacular natural fences in the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle. This year, top stars such as Marcus Ehning and Toni Haßmann have already shown interest in lining up for the Indoor Derby. The most prominent guest and observer of the “bush riders” is without a doubt Captain Mark Phillips. The Olympic champion from Munich in 1972 and former husband of Princess Anne will be following the rides of the eventing cracks with his trained eye.

“I feel, in view of the entry lists, we’re not exaggerating when we say that we will enjoy equestrian sport of the highest class this year in the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle,” said Gotthilf Riexinger when summarizing the sporting prospects. Andreas Kroll added: “In addition to the quality of the competitions, it was always the unique atmosphere in the previous years that made STUTTGART GERMAN MASTERS a quite special highlight. I think the newly designed inner area of the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle, which include a riding surface that has been enlarged by 1000 square metres and new spectator stands, gives us the best prerequisites for things to continue in the same vein again this year.” Kroll continued by saying that there can be no doubt that the fact that the Stuttgart Grand Prix of Stuttgart is a part of the World Cup qualifying plus the substantially increased prize money, especially in the jumping competitions and the associated status as a five star CSI have all contributed to the outstanding entry lists. “I’m sure, however, our horse show’s special flair is what really attracts the top riders to Stuttgart every year.”

That Stuttgart definitely is the hub of the equestrian world from 16 – 20 November is shown in no small way by the enormous interest shown by domestic and foreign television stations. The Südwest-Rundfunk (SWR) – the regional television broadcasters – will be televising twice from the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle. The MERCEDES GERMAN MASTER competition will be shown by the SWR in a “Sport Extra“ programme on Friday evening from 11.30 to 0.30. Additionally, a major part of the “Sport on Saturday” programme from 5.00 – 6.00 pm will be devoted to the SCHENKER GERMAN MASTER for four-in-hand drivers. The FEI World Cup Jumping – presented by MERCEDES-BENZ, ALLIANZ and LANDESBANK BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG – the Stuttgart Grand Prix – will be shown nationally in Germany on Sunday by the ARD. In addition, the climax will also be televised live in numerous European and non-European countries. “The television channels’ big interest can be attributed to the fact that we‘ve brought forward the start of the Grand Prix to 2.45 pm so that we can guarantee it ending at approximately 4.20 pm,” explained Gotthilf Riexinger. Another positive change in the schedule concerns Friday evening. As the jumping competition on Friday evening will already count towards qualifying for the MERCEDES GERMAN MASTER, the four-in-hand drivers will be able to absolve the opening competition for the first time in the evening session. With a programme that includes the stars in the “coach-box”, the individual vaulting free test, the MERCEDES GERMAN MASTER climax and an attractive show, Friday evening offers a even more attractive and diverse.

The organisers of the STUTTGART GERMAN MASTERS are also pleased with pre-event ticket sales. “Up to now we have sold a total of 45,000 tickets. It’s very pleasing,” said Kroll who is confident that this year’s the top competitions will also take place in front of sell out audiences in the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle. Saturday afternoon for example is already completely sold out. And there is big demand for the particularly attractive sessions like Friday evening, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon,” said the in.Stuttgart Managing Director.

Still available, on the other hand, are tickets for the opening blockbuster at the STUTTGART GERMAN MASTERS on Wednesday 16 November. Dressage, jumping, the much loved and traditional MercedesCard Jump&Drive, the spectacular indoor eventing as well as the impressive show “Le Pardon“ from Jean-François Pignon, musically accompanied by the Fuego de Rumba group – the show evening really offers delicacies for every taste.

Tickets for the 21st International STUTTGART GERMAN MASTERS Horse Show cost between 10 and 40 Euro, event tickets cost 119 and 175 Euro including all ticketing fees plus postage. They can be ordered via EASY TICKET SERVICE, telephone +49 711 2 55 55 55, fax +49 711 2 55 55 66, at all the usual ticket agencies as well as via www.easyticket.de and www.stuttgart-german-masters.de.