Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping

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Inside The Dutch Masters : Sunday 10 March

HIGHWAY TO VICTORY: WILLEM GREVE WINS THE ROLEX GRAND PRIX AT THE DUTCH MASTERS

(Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof) (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

The Dutch Masters – the first Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major of the calendar year – culminated this afternoon with the show’s pinnacle class, the Rolex Grand Prix. The Major, which was the final of the four shows within the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the initiative did so with a fitting ceremony on Saturday evening looking back over the highlights from the past decade.

 

The energy in the Brabanthallen was electric as fans waited with bated breath to see if the current Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender, Richard Vogel, could claim back-to-back Majors in his pursuit of the ultimate prize in the sport – a quest that would not come easy with a sensational field of riders including the current European, World and Olympic Champions all hoping to claim this prestigious Rolex Grand Prix.

 

Second to go – Rolex Testimonee and winner of the CPKC ‘International’ Grand Prix, presented by Rolex at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament – Martin Fuchs was the first to master Louis Konickx’s exceptionally built course. His mount, Leone Jei, has jumped eight clears in Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Majors, the most of any horse in the class.

 

The next combination into the main arena, World No.1 Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward ensured there would be a jump-off with a perfectly judged clear round, whilst the flying Frenchman Julien Epaillard, was another to clear the 14 combination course and kept his hopes of the becoming the first French rider to win a Major alive. At the halfway point, seven riders from seven different nations had secured their place in the jump-off including the ‘Dutch Rider of the Year’, Harrie Smolders who set the home crowd alight, and German rider Marcus Ehning. Of the remaining riders, only two additional combinations proceeded to the second round with some of the competition’s favourites such as Steve Guerdat and the live contender Richard Vogel unable to join the exclusive list of riders.

 

Returning in the same order in which they jumped in the first round, it was Fuchs who set the pace with a clear in a time of 35.11 seconds, however, his lead was quickly usurped by von Eckermann and King Edward who showed why they are considered to be the leading combination in the world, when they crossed the line in 33.74 seconds. The crowd roared to life as Smolders produced a super smooth round, but heartbreak came when he was 0.92 seconds slower. It looked like it would be a Swedish victory, but last to go, Dutch rider Willem Greve with his bay stallion, Highway TN N.O.P. produced an expertly judged round to beat the World No.1’s time by just 0.04 seconds. Greve therefore not only claimed his first Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major but also a first for the Netherlands, and become the live contender ahead of the CHIO Aachen in July.

 

Speaking on his win the Dutch rider stated: “I have to pinch myself – it is unbelievable. Words cannot describe how I am feeling. I am so thankful for my horse for his courage and his mentality. It means so much to me to win in front of my home crowd – the history here is incredible, and it is an honour to add my name to the list of winners. I have been coming to The Dutch Masters since a was a small child, and so to win here is a dream come true.”

Interview with Next Gen rider - Lars Kersten

(Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof) (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

We are here at The Dutch Masters, your home show, how special is this venue to you?

It is so special to be here at The Dutch Masters. I competed here for the first time last year, and had a good round in the Rolex Grand Prix – my horse jumped very well and I am hoping for the same again this year. 

 

The Dutch Masters is one of the best indoor shows in the world – to be honest, all of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Majors are the pinnacle of the sport. For me as a Dutch rider to have a home Major is amazing. 

 

Can you tell us about the horses that you have with you and what qualities they have that make them so special?

I have a very good string of horses with me this week. My grey mare, Hallilea is here – she is in very good form having won the FEI World Cup™ Qualifier in Gothenburg only a couple of weeks ago. She had a nice round in the 1.45m class on Friday, and I am planning on jumping her in Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix. 

 

Then, I have a stallion called Funky Fred Marienshof Z. He was double clear and fifth in the VDL Groep Prize on Friday, and I jumped him last night in the Audi Prize. I also have a nine-year-old with me called Chuck Marienshof Z who is very talented. 

 

How do you prepare yourself and your horses for a show such as The Dutch Masters?

I try to keep everything the same and keep their normal routine. They have been in very good form over the last few weeks, so we are trying to maintain that momentum. They felt great in Amsterdam and Gothenburg, and hopefully we can keep on getting good results. 

 

You were part of the Rolex Young Riders Academy – how special was it to be part of that and what did you learn from your experience?

The Rolex Young Riders Academy is an incredible opportunity for young riders. The programme gives you some great insights into the sport, especially from different areas that we would not usually be exposed to, for example, we visited both the Rolex and FEI headquarters. They have enabled us access to so many experts across the different aspects of our sport, which has been incredible.

 

Through my time with the academy, I have been able to access some great horsemen and trainers which has been invaluable for my development as a rider. Another benefit of being linked to the academy is that it helps you to get into the best shows in the world, such as here at The Dutch Masters. It has made a huge impact on my career and I am very honoured to have been part of the programme. 

 

Do you have a mentor or a rider that you look up to – what advice have they given you for this weekend?

I would say that the main influence on my career has been my father – I have been based at home for the majority of my career and he has been my trainer my whole life. He taught me all of the basics and has been incredibly supportive. 

 

Away from my father, I look up to Marcus Ehning – he has always been an idol of mine, I think that he is a great horseman. I spent a week with him and I learned so much from him, even in such a short period of time. I have also been trained by Jos Lansink in the past.

 

The Dutch Masters is the final Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the initiative – how special has it been for the sport?

For me the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Majors are the best in the world – if you look at The Dutch Masters or the CHI Geneva they are the crème de la crème of the sport. I went to the CHI Geneva last year for the first time – not as a competitor, but it is an incredible venue. I think that these shows are a level above the others. The Majors are the ultimate goal and a dream for any rider to win. 

Interview with Maikel Van Der Vleuten Groom - Alin Seidler

(Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof) (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

Could you introduce yourself and tell us what your role is…

My name is Alin, and I have worked for Maikel van der Vleuten for almost one year. I started my career 10-years-ago in Germany at Holsteiner Verband.

 

What made you want to pursue a career in horses?

I started riding with my father when I was a child – it was our father-daughter time. I used to have a horse that I would compete with, but in Germany there are so many good riders, and I did not think that I would quite make it to the top level of the sport. So I was honest with myself and thought about how I could travel the world with horses, and I realized that grooming was the way. I could still be with horses, ride, and see the world – it was the perfect solution.

 

For you why is The Dutch Masters such a special show?

The atmosphere here is incredible. The feeling inside the main arena is insane – the crowd is so supportive.

It is also one of the nicest shows – we have everything that we need. The food is amazing, and everything is close for us so we do not have to walk very far. The space is incredible for horses – they are happy and so long as they are, then we are too.

 

Can you tell us about the horses that you have with you?

Beauville Z N.O.P. is here, I call him the ‘main man’. He has his own personality, he is totally unique, and is a once in a lifetime horse. Then we have a 12-year-old mare, Elwikke and Kentucky TMS Z, who is our young stallion – he is very nice but needs time to develop a bit more.

 

As a show groom you travel around the world, how do you ensure that your horses are happy and ready to compete?

I try to keep everything the same, no matter where we are going. We make sure that there is never any stress, we take our time, and if we are three hours late then that is what it is – we always put the horses first. I make sure that they are comfortable, if a horse needs more space then we give them that or if one is better with a gelding beside them then we do that. You have to know your horses and understand how to make sure that they are happy.

 

What qualities does Maikel have that makes him such a successful rider?

He is a real horseman. He understands the horses when he rides them. He knows if they feel good or if there is something a little bit wrong. We talk about any issues and then make a plan about how to fix it. It could be as simple as changing the food, or speaking with the vet or the physio. It is important that we make a plan together to make sure that we can fix it in the best way possible.

 

Can you tell us about the wider team?

We have an amazing team at home – we would not be where we are without them. All of our success starts at home. The travel and shows are my responsibility, but if the horses are happy at home then we can ensure that they are happy at a show. The team at home keep the horses healthy, and they ride them when we are not there – they are so important.

 

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is celebrating its 10 year anniversary, how important this initiative mean for the sport?

I have been to all Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Majors apart from the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament. I think the initiative has been so important for the sport – you have the best riders in the world competing against each other, and they always bring their best horses. It is not that common that you have this calibre of competition, and so I think it is great for the fans, as they get to see the very top of the sport.

 

What is the best piece of advice that you have been given?

I would tell her to do exactly the same. I would tell her to do what you love and to make sure that your dreams come true.

 

 

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