Superlatives are rapidly running out in order to pay British showjumping great Scott Brash a fitting tribute.
Maybe the words “showjumping great” are perhaps most apt to sum up his latest achievement, both in terms of the 29-year-old superstar Scottish rider and wonder-horse Hello Sanctos.
To an Olympic team-gold medal, European team-gold and individual bronze, two Global Champions Tour series titles and a prolonged world-number-one ranking can now be added showjumping’s richest individual prize, the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping.
Brash collected one million Euros — about £730,000 — through completing the toughest hat trick of all, winning successive grands prix at Geneva, Aachen and Spruce Meadows.
In doing so, Brash achieved the acclaimed Rolex Grand Slam, a feat never accomplished by any other rider and one that means he will forever hold a prominent place in equestrian sport’s hall of fame.
To say Brash was under pressure in Calgary would be to make an undertstatement of seismic proportions.
Ten combinations jumped clear in round one, but then the degree of difficulty increased sharply, both in terms of the fences and a fearsomely-tight time of just 72 seconds, for round two.
Brazilian Pedro Veniss and Belgian Pieter Devos looked destined for a jump-off after each collecting one time fault, but then came Brash. Drawn last to go, he was ready for the biggest round in his life.
Brash is known for staying calm under pressure, yet the response — even by his exalted status — was breathtaking.
Not only did arguably the greatest combination showjumping has ever seen go clear, they did it inside the time, and in doing so, provided a moment of sporting greatness that will stand the test of time.
Brash’s face immediately afterwards was a mixture of sheer joy and utter relief. Maybe, there was a tinge of disbelief, too, that what many astute observers of the sport felt was an improbable treble had been accomplished.
“I can’t really describe it, it’s just an incredible feeling,” he said. “It’s what we’ve dreamed off since the start of the year. I’m just chuffed to bits for Sanctos as well, as he really deserves the recognition. He’s such a wonderful, wonderful horse.
“It’s been a team effort and everyone has worked unbelievably to achieve this. It was a great feeling when we went over the last fence.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet, it will take a while. I may never be in this position in my life again, I just want to cherish it.
“I’d love to be at the top end of the sport for years and years to come. I would love to be at the top end for a long time, I’m not prepared to give up yet.
“I’m so proud to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping. What they have done for our sport is incredible, and it’s just great to be part of it all.”
Britain has produced some wonderful showjumpers — the likes of David Broome, John Whitaker and Nick Skelton — but Brash, two months before his 30th birthday, might now have confirmed himself as the greatest of all.
The scary thing for Brash’s rivals is that his career has a long way to run, and he will already have been installed as a short-price favourite for Rio Olympics individual gold.
To watch him win the Grand Slam was to be in the company of sporting greatness.
Image: Scott Brash holds the Rolex Grand Slam trophy, courtesy of the Rolex Grand Slam