WEF 12: Christian Kukuk Scores Rolex Grand Prix Victory with Checker 47 at Wellington International

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Christian Kukuk & Checker 47, winners of the $500,000 Rolex CSI5 Grand Prix. Photo © Sportfot

Germany’s Christian Kukuk and Checker 47 clinched a win in the $500,000 Rolex CSI5* Grand Prix during the finale ‘Saturday Night Lights’ of the Winter Equestrian Festival’s (WEF) 2024 season on March 30. From final draw, Kukuk made his Wellington debut a winning one in the last of a 12-week run of FEI competition in front of a sold-out crowd at Wellington International.

“I had goosebumps after that last fence,” said Kukuk, 34. “It’s an incredible feeling.

I had only heard about Wellington and the Rolex week before this. I brought my two best horses and everything went exactly how I wanted.”

After finishing the runner-up in the qualifier earlier in the week on Mumbai, Kukuk piloted 14-year-old Westphalian gelding Checker 47 (Comme Il Faut 5 x Come On), owned by M.H & Partner GBR, to top call in his first-ever Rolex Grand Prix win.

“These [Rolex classes] are the best grand prix events in the year—we all know that—and we all work for them in the end,” said Kukuk. “This crowd and this stadium are special. To be last to go and win is an incredible feeling.”

The evening’s courses were designed by Guilherme Jorge’s (BRA), who is named as the Jumping Technical Delegate for the Paris Olympics this summer. Kukuk tackled the jump-off track with the foot speed of Checker 47, his winning mount from the 2023 FEI Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona, Spain, to unseat current leader and local crowd favorite Mclain Ward (USA).

“The pressure was a bit on and I could feel it in the warm-up, but I need that to be honest,” continued Kukuk, who posted a time of 35.82 seconds over Ward’s 36.24 seconds. “I knew I could not do the same strides [as Mclain], but I could try to turn a bit tighter after the double and that worked very well. When I landed, I knew I could be close so I tried everything I could and left one out to the last.”

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Christian Kukuk, Mclain Ward and Karl Cook in their podium presentation with Kyle Younghans, Sports Marketing Manager, Rolex Watch USA (second from right); Wellington International President Michael Stone (left); Marsha Dammerman (second from left) presenting the Dennis Dammerman Perpetual Trophy; and Ludger Beerbaum (right). Photo © Sportfot

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Press release Wellington International | Christian Kukuk & Checker 47, winners of the $500,000 Rolex CSI5* Grand Prix. Photo © Sportfot

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