byNina Fedrizzi| Jul 24, 2017
Every grand prix win comes with its fair share of accolades, but a win at Aachen—and specifically, a win in the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen—can tip a horse and rider’s fame factor from ‘A-list’ into the stratosphere.
Belgian Olympian Gregory Wathelet (currently ranked #19 in the world) has frequently been at the top of international five-star podiums, recently in Monte Carlo, Geneva, and Paris with veteran stallion, Eldorado van het Vijverhof. But fans in the know have long been eyeing his up-and-coming mare by the famous Cornet Obolensky, Corée. That interest paid off on Sunday when Wathelet and Corée took show jumping’s most lauded and difficult prize, jumping clear through three, intensive 1.60m rounds in front of a stadium full of 40,000 fans. Their win at Aachen secures Wathelet not just a place in the history books but a chance at the 2017 Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping (and its accompanying million-euro prize), the next round of which will take place during the Spruce Meadows Masters in September.
Coincidentally, the Masters falls on Wathelet’s 37th birthday, and though the rider is staying mum about whether he and Corée will contest the next leg of the Rolex Grand Slam, it’s safe to say that all eyes will be on this pair no matter where their season takes them.
While we wait to find out, here are 16 fun facts about show jumping’s latest power couple:
- Gregory began riding ponies at age eight. At age 10, his parents bought him his first horse.
- For a brief time, he tried to combine school with riding, but at 19, decided to commit to riding for one year and has been in the sport ever since.
- Corée is an 11-year-old Westfalen mare (Cornet Obolensky x Liberty Life).
- Wathelet also rode Corée in last year’s Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final—they picked up only 4 faults, though the Belgian team finished 7th overall.
- Gregory has been linked to many other well-known horses, including: HH Conrad, Citzenguard Cadjanine Z, Papillon Z, Citzenguard Toscan de Sainte Hermelle, Citzenguard Taalex, Oh D’Eole, Copin van de Broy, Cortes C, and Lantinus.
- He actually rode under the Ukraine flag from 2005-2007 when Oleksandr Onyshchenko offered Wathelet and other European riders the chance to form a Ukrainian team, with the goal of winning World Championship and Olympic medals.
- Wathelet spent a total of two days in the Ukraine in order to obtain his new nationality and passport.
- Gregory and Corée won the €160,000 Longines FEI World Cup Grand Prix of Leipzig in January of this year.
- Wathelet believes in solid dressage training and worked with dressage coach Frederick Piermolin for years before competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
- One of the most famous show jumping images of 2014 was that of Gregory jumping to a clear round at the Global Champions Tour in Paris, France, despite his horse, Conrad de Hus, losing his bridle partway around the course.
- When he’s not riding, Gregory enjoys driving go carts and playing FIFA on PlayStation.
- Corée began her career with Belgian rider, Gilles Botton, who competed her from 2013-2014.
- Gregory Wathelet’s longtime girlfriend is Norwegian show jumper Marie Longem.
- One of his closest friends in the sport is Swiss Olympic show jumper Steve Guerdat.
- Wathelet has said that all of his horses are available for sale, but that risk was ended for Corée when owner Judith Golkel purchased her for Wathelet to ride in 2015.
- Gregory believes in the importance of watching others in order help improve your own riding. “If you don’t keep learning, you stay behind,” he’s said.
-Photos by Erin Gilmore.
- Gregory Wathelet & Coree Storm to Victory in the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen [Noelle Floyd]
- There’s No Place Like Aachen [NF Style]