World of Showjumping
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Home win for Marc Houtzager and Sterrehof's Dante in the CSIO5* 1.60m Grand Prix of Rotterdam

Sunday, 23 June 2024
CSIO5* LLN Rotterdam 2024

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. Marc Houtzager and Sterrehof's Dante won the Grand Prix of Rotterdam. Photo © Mackenzie Clark.


Text © World of Showjumping



Sunday's CSIO5* 1.60m €300.000 Grand Prix of Rotterdam 2024 was a clash of titans, with many of the teams present using the 75th edition of CHIO Rotterdam as a last chance for horse-and-rider combinations to show off prior to selection for the Olympic Games in Paris that will kick off in five week's time.

In the end, the Dutch crowd at Kralingse Bos got what they wanted, with the home heroes Marc Houtzager (NED) and Sterrehof's Dante (Canturano x Phin Phin) taking the title for the host nation.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. "It was time to win again," Houtzager - who last won the Grand Prix of Rotterdam twelve years ago - said. Photo © Mackenzie Clark.

The course set by Quintin Maertens (NED), Louis Konickx (NED) and Peter Grant (CAN) counted 14 obstacles and 17 efforts, but with the best of the best competing, the questions asked were solved by fifteen out of the fifty horse-and-rider combinations at start, making the jump-off a battle between on-form world-class pairs.  

The first to deliver a clear in round one was the current world number one Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) and Iliana (Cardento x Gentleman). They were joined in the deciding jump-off by Cian O'Connor (IRL) and Fermoy (Chacco's Son x Light On), Janika Sprunger (SUI) and Orelie (Emerald x Nabab de Reve), Gilles Thomas (BEL) and Ermitage Kalone (Catoki x Kannan), Mclain Ward (USA) and Callas (Casall x Coriano), Laura Kraut (USA) and Baloutinue (Balou du Rouet x Landor S), Harrie Smolders (NED) and Uricas v/d Kattevennen (Uriko x San Patrignano Cassini), Marc Houtzager (NED) and Sterrehof's Dante (Canturano x Phin Phin), Ioli Mytilineou (GRE) and L'Artiste de Toxandra (Toulon x Kashmir van Schuttershof), Luciana Diniz (BRA) and Vertigo du Desert (Mylord Carthago x Robin Z) as well as Kim Emmen (NED) and Imagine (Cassini Gold x Lord Z), Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) and O'Bailey vh Brouwershof N.O.P. (Darco x Contact van de Heffinck), Edouard Schmitz (SUI) and Gamin van't Naastveldhof (Chacco Chacco x Toulon) and Willem Greve (NED) aboard Highway TN N.O.P. (Eldorado vd Zeshoek x Chellano). 

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. "It was a good jump-off, but not perfect – with a perfect one, I think I would have had a chance to beat Marc," second placed Kukuk said about his round. Photo © Mackenzie Clark.

In the jump-off, Kraut and Baloutinue set the standard by stopping the clock on 38.10 seconds. However, it was eventually only good enough for fourth place as the jump-off got faster and faster. Crossing the finish line in 36.07, Houtzager and the 16-year-old Sterrehof's Dante took the win, leaving Kukuk and Just Be Gentle to second in 36.55 and Smolders aboard Uricas v/d Kattevennen to fifth in 37.42 Smolders, while Gilles Thomas and Ermitage Kalone finished fifth in 38.24. 

"Fast riders, fast horses, it was very competitive," third placed Smolders commented afterwards. "Everything did not go according to the plan, the beginning was quite good but after the oxer in the middle he lost his focus a little," he said about his jump-off round. "However, I think even with a perfect jump-off, I could not have beaten Marc, so I have to be satisfied with this result."

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. Harrie Smolders and Uricas v/d Kattevennen placed third. Photo © Mackenzie Clark.

The second placed Kukuk was full of praise for his horse, the talented 10-year-old Just Be Gentle. "She is an outstanding horse, definitely something very special," Kukuk said. "I jumped the first five-star Grand Prix with her two weeks ago in Cannes and she was clear and had one down in the jump-off. I told myself then that now we are ready for the next jump-off and honestly, she was, but I did not really finish it the way I wanted to. It was a good jump-off, but not perfect – with a perfect one, I think I would have had a chance to beat Marc. Nevertheless, he made it very difficult for us today and I am very happy and pleased with my horse. I am really happy with the second place. Well done to Marc!" 

"It was time to win again," Houtzager smiled about the fact that he last won the Grand Prix of Rotterdam twelve years ago. "It is unbelievable, I have no words for it."

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. "She is already sixteen so I try to plan the best shows for her," Houtzager said about Sterrehof's Dante. Photo © Mackenzie Clark.

"I did not plan the seven strides from one to two in the jump-off, but when I saw them, I felt I had to go and that was my chance," Houtzager reflected on his winning jump-off. "When I looked at the clock, I could not believe that I was quicker than Harrie! I was happy with my round already before the class was finished, because I knew I could not have gone any faster – the other guys are also a bit younger than me... It is nice to win, but even if I did not, I would be happy." 

"Dante is in good shape," Houtzger said about Sterrehof's Dante. "She is already sixteen so I try to plan the best shows for her and hopefully I can keep her in the sport for another few years. The crowd was fantastic today; to win at home is amazing. Only my wife had to go to Austria today but luckily I had good friends around me!" 


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