38,500 spectators celebrate a fabulous festival with plenty of British charm
There was something special in the air on Tuesday evening at the Aachen Soers. The Union Jack was flying in the Main Stadium, the traditional sounds of “Big Ben” rang out from the loudspeakers. And that was just the beginning of a magnificent Opening Ceremony that was filled with British flair, the evening was lent an added regal touch by the presence of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Princess Anne.
The crowd in Aachen already got up out of their seats during the first minute of the traditional Opening Ceremony to welcome HRH Princess Anne, waving a sea of flags. Stood at the side of the State President of NRW, Hendrik Wüst, the member of the British royal family said that it was lovely to be back in Aachen, before she actually declared the CHIO Aachen 2023 officially open in German, to the delight of the 38,500 spectators. Princess Anne’s way to the stand was lined by the flags of the nations taking part in the World Equestrian Festival, carried among others by the most successful dressage rider of all time, Isabell Werth, and the British show-jumper, Nick Skelton, who won the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen in the year 2013. A spectacular floodlit Opening Ceremony followed, which impressed the spectators with typical British flamboyance.
“All you need is love”, based on the legendary Beatles hymn, was the motto of the evening. And that was not only tangible in the stands, but also on the “Holy Grass”. With traditional show acts, bagpipe music and British-style dance performances to groovy music, Great Britain demonstrated how much old traditions merge into one with the lifestyle of the new era in the country on the other side of the English Channel. The absolute highlight was the appearance of the Household Cavalry. The mounted soldiers, one is otherwise only familiar with from the pompous parades on London’s streets, celebrated their world-famous Musical Ride and conjured up an impressive mood in the Main Stadium.
It was colourful and also rather magical when over 100 children paid tribute to the renowned young magician, Harry Potter, with their performance and whisked the crowd off into the secret world of Hogwarts. A choreography comprising of over 100 children that also featured the film heroine Alice in Wonderland and the musical legend, Mary Poppins. The programme was rounded off by plenty of horses and even more equine tradition. For example, from small Welsh ponies through to enormous Shire horses lots of typical, British horse breeds galloped over the “Holy Grass”. They were accompanied by splendid English-style carriages, the spectacular James Bond show by the stunt rider Josh Clemens and a spectacular rain dance, during the course of which the cool wet substance that is so typical for Great Britain really did pour down on the protagonists. The many Grand National Shetland ponies that raced through the ring with their mini jockeys on board proved to be the crowd’s favourites. The final parade of all participants, accompanied by classics from British music history and a huge fountain that lit up an impressive play of colours in the sky over Aachen brought the Opening Ceremony to a close. A crowning glory that whet everyone’s appetite for the coming days at the CHIO Aachen 2023.
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