Aachen Jumping Youngstars celebrates an anniversary: 30 years of aspiring equestrian sport talents
30 years of “Aachen Jumping Youngstars”, 30 years of aspiring equestrian sport top talents in Aachen. Due to the pandemic, only a selected group raised their glasses at Germany’s most important show for aspiring young show-jumpers and yet the young riders certainly experienced four first-class days at the Albert-Vahle Arena on the grounds of the CHIO Aachen.
Founded by Willibert Mehlkopf three decades ago as the “Salut-Festival”, it has established itself as the traditional concluding show of the year for riders in four age groups. Willibert Mehlkopf, who represented Germany in 27 Nations Cups and who runs a riding stable in Aachen, named the show after his long-standing successful horse, Salut. Incidentally, on Monday there is going to be a further reason for a toast: Willibert Mehlkopf will namely be celebrating his 80th birthday. He founded the show back then in the 90s, “because our young riders in the Rhineland simply weren’t able to compete anywhere.” “I would never have imagined at the time” that it would be this successful.” In the meantime, famous names have competed here, Marcus Ehning, Simone Blum and also Christian Ahlmann rode into the ring in the Albert-Vahle arena in the past. The best young show-jumpers from all over Germany followed in their footsteps again from Thursday to Sunday. Exclusively visitors fully vaccinated against or recovered from COVID-19 show, who presented a current negative test, were allowed to attend the event.
Emilia Löser wins the Grand Prix of the Aachener Bank eG
The Grand Prix of the Young riders, the Grand Prix of the Aachener Bank eG, is traditionally the highlight of the Aachen Jumping Youngstars. Seven aspiring young athletes had reached the jump-off of this S*** class. Ultimately, Emilia Löser proved to have the strongest nerves. She took 34.90 seconds to cross the finish line with her Lesodero, whereby the pair almost missed the jump-off, because since none of the riders jumped clear in the opening round, all riders with four faults went through to the jump off – “I hadn’t reckoned with a four-fault jump-off, so I had already gone back to the stables and had already unsaddled my horse,” she grinned. “It is of course a super way to finish off the season. That makes kicking off the New Year even more fun.” And she is already thinking about the really big goals: “I have been dreaming of being able to ride into the Main Stadium at the CHIO one day since I was young girl.” One of this year’s members of the Programme of Excellence of the CHIO Aachen CAMPUS, Iris Michels, came second. She took just under two seconds longer than the winner to complete the course with Bugano De L´Abbaye. Isabelle Grandke finished third with Quukske Z. Alina Sparwel secured herself the title of Indoor Champion, i.e. the most successful rider over all days of the show. She pulled off the incredible feat of claiming the title of Indoor Champion for the second time in a row after already being victorious in 2019. “It is simply our arena,” she laughed.
STAWAG Prize: Max Paschertz triumphs in the Juniors classification
The STAWAG Prize, the Grand Prix of the Juniors, proved to be a nail-biting final. Three riders, two girls and one boy, had qualified for the jump-off. And it is normally a disadvantage having to go first. However, after Max Paschertz, who competes for RuFV Cappeln, had steered his Sem Semper over the course clear in a time of 39.04 seconds, he already knew: That is going to be hard to beat and he clenched his fist. And that was exactly what happened: Hannah-Michelle Wilken, who had put in excellent performance on all days of the show with her Cutest Tabou picked up eight faults, Hanna Schreyer jumped clear, but she took half a second longer to reach the finish line. “This is Aachen, one goes all out,” said a delighted Max Paschertz about his coup. Even if Hannah-Michelle Wilken didn’t win the STAWAG Prize, her combined results meant she was the most successful rider of the show and her well-earned reward was the title of Indoor Champion. “I couldn’t be happier, a dream has come true, my time riding for the Juniors couldn’t have ended a nicer way,” the rider from Warendorf explained.
Leonie Assmann top in the NetAachen Prize
She certainly implemented this plan perfectly: “I came to Aachen with the goal of winning,” the pony rider, Leonie Assmann, stated. There was no beating the speedy, youngster from Bavaria in the NetAachen Prize on the final Sunday. Assmann came third at the Germany Youth Championships in September and today the winner of the Youth Championships, Jonna Esser, came third. Leonie Assmann finished first with Hankifax, ahead of Emile Baurand with Ami, followed by as already mentioned Jonna Esser with Catness. Leonie came 14th in the opening class of the NetAachen Prize on Friday, she took second place on Saturday and after her victory on Sunday, she claimed the title of Indoor Champion 2021.
Paula Pahl uses her home advantage
It was a home game for Paula Pahl from Jülich. Taking around 20 minutes, she had the shortest journey to the Albert-Vahle Arena. The 14-year-old competed in the Children’s classification (aged up to 14, riding a horse). And she was extremely successful: Three classes, three victories, and as such also the title of Indoor Champion, i.e. the most successful rider of the entire show. The home game didn’t necessarily make things easier, because “there are a lot of familiar faces here cheering you on, which indeed increases the pressure, but which if you do manage to pull it off, makes it even nicer of course,” stated Paula Pahl. Her plan for the jump-off on Sunday was crystal clear: “My trainer told me, simply rely on your fast horse,” that is exactly what she did and in the saddle of Easy Kolibra and with a time of 32.52 seconds she was significantly faster than Emma Bachl (Classic White/35.08) and Leonie Assmann (Lancertos Jacky Cola/35.18).
The organisers were totally satisfied with the four days in the Albert-Vahle Arena: “We don’t have to worry about having enough aspiring young talents,” Frank Kemperman, Chairman of the Aachen-Laurensberger Rennverein e.V. (ALRV), organisers of the event, is convinced. “I am impressed every year at the top quality and exceptional sport we experience here at the Aachen Youngstars.” For the ALRV, the Aachen Youngstars show is an important part of the youth concept: “We decided a long time ago that we wanted to strongly commit ourselves to promoting the youth,” Kemperman remarked. In addition to the Youngstars and the integration of classes for young riders at the CHIO Aachen, this also includes the Programme of Excellence of the CHIO Aachen CAMPUS – several of this year’s candidates took part in the Jumping Youngstars. There was a lot of praise and gratitude from the competitors, “We have frequently heard, how delighted the athletes are that we were able to conduct the show,” said Kemperman. The COVID measures didn’t cause any problems at all: “COVID certification + a negative test went down very well, everyone showed understanding and knows that the event couldn’t take place without these measures,” stated Kemperman. There was a test centre directly next to the arena.
Photos: Jil Haak