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Home win for Sanne Thijssen and Con Quidam RB in the CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix of Rotterdam

Sunday, 04 July 2021
CHIO Rotterdam 2021

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping
Sanne Thijssen and Con Quidam RB beat the best of the best in the CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix of Rotterdam. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



The 72nd edition of CHIO Rotterdam concluded on Sunday with the CSIO5* 1.60m Longines Grand Prix, and just like in Friday's Nations Cup the Dutch riders delivered on home soil. 

The course set by Spain's Santiago Varela counted 14 obstacles and 17 efforts, with a triple combination at fence number five and an open water on fence number eight. With the clouds gathering over the Kralingse Bos and the last Olympic selections looming, it was a slightly rainy afternoon with high pressure. 

A total of 15 pairs from the 42 starters cleared the first round and joined the deciding jump-off and to the delight of the hosts, four Dutch riders were among them: Sanne Thijssen (NED) on Con Quidam Rb (Quinar x Cardino), Jack Ansems (NED) on Fliere Fluiter (VDL Zirocco Blue x Animo), Gerben Morsink (NED) on Navarone Z (Nabab de Reve x Amor) and Kim Emmen (NED) on Jack van het Dennehof (Toulon x Quidam de Revel) were joined by Ioli Mytilineou (GRE) on Levis de Muze (Elvis ter Putte x Tinka’s Boy), Alberto Marquez Galobardes (ESP) on Uccello Massuere (Cassini II x Galoubet A), Angelie von Essen (SWE) on Alcapone des Carmille (Diamant de Semilly x Heartbreaker), Kevin Staut (FRA) on Visconti du Telman (Toulon x Dollar du Murier), Bryan Balsiger (SUI) on AK’s Courage (Chepetto C x Lennon 5), McLain Ward (USA) on Contagious (Contagio Z x For Keeps), Penelope Leprevost (FRA) on Vancouver de Lanlore (Toulon x Le Tot de Semilly), Douglas Lindelöw (SWE) on Casquo Blue (Chacco Blue x Carthago Z), Lucy Deslauriers on Hester (Wandor van de Mispelaere x Palestro vd Begijnakker), Peder Fredricson (SWE) on H&M All In (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Andiamo Z) and Marcus Ehning (GER) on Funky Fred (For Pleasure x Pilot).

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping
Sanne Thijssen and Con Quidam RB en route to victory. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

22-year-old Sanne Thijssen was the first out in the jump-off, and seemed absolutely unfaced with her heavyweight rivals which included Olympic, World and European Champions. Flying over the last fence in 33.10 seconds, Thijssen made it all look like a walk in the park – and none of the 14 pairs to follow could catch her.

Second out in the jump-off, 23-year-old Ioli Mytilineou followed Thijssen with a daring round in 36.47 seconds but was quickly passed by Kim Emmen – who got close to Thijssen, but not close enough, stopping the clock on 33.52. The 2016 Olympic team gold medallist Kevin Staut was also not fast enough; a time of 35.11 seconds was eventually good enough to finish 6th. McLain Ward – the 2018 team gold medallists from the Tryon World Equestrian Games – gave it his best go with Contagious, crossing the finish line in 33.13 seconds – only fractions behind Thijssen, pushing Kim Emmen down to third and Bryan Balsiger to fourth. The 2016 Olympic silver medallist and 2019 European Champion Peder Fredricson ended fifth with a time of 34.77 seconds.  

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping
A happy Team Thijssen in Rotterdam after an outstanding victory for Sanne and Con Quidam RB!

"I did a really fast round, but my rollback could have been done a little bit faster, because my horse got a bit excited and I had to take him a little back. So, I thought someone would beat me out of those still coming – but they did not," Sanne Thijssen said about her jump-off round. 

For Sanne, who has been hugely successful as a junior and young rider, as well as on lower star levels, this was the first time competing in Rotterdam, a venue she has visited often with her father Leon. Speaking about competing at the top of the sport, Thijssen said: "You really need good horses at the biggest level and I have had bad luck with a few injuries, also for Con Quidam. I had good horses, but not the Con Quidam I needed. If you have one good one, the other ones follow and it was just a bit up and down. Now Con Quidam is back, and I have really good horses at the moment so that helps!" 

Third placed Kim Emmen also did her Rotterdam-debut in style. "I saw Sanne and I thought that I would never be able to make that,” Emmen said. “However, when I looked at the screen after my round there was not so much in between us, so I was very happy." 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping
McLain Ward and Contagious gave it their all, taking the runner-up position. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping

Second placed McLain Ward was full of praise for Thjissen: "I thought it would be a big problem for the rest of us," he said about her jump-off round. "I thought it was an unbelievable round: She took all the risk, especially to the last fence and the horse was incredible. Sometimes you say coming out “I could have done this, or I could have done that” but I had nothing left to give.”

"It has been a long road," Ward answered when asked about the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. "Trying to build up for a championship and to make our national team, obviously for all of us, going to the Olympics and representing our country is the ultimate goal, it is something that transcends to all sports and is still so special. I have been lucky to have had some great horses in my career and to have experienced and building towards championships. Contagious is an incredibly talented, careful horse, a real trier, but throughout the selection process we have been a little up and down. I had a great Rome Nations Cup, but I rode poorly in the Grand Prix. The other day, I had a great first round but mis-rode the water so I have tried to keep improving myself and I hope we have done enough. We keep our fingers crossed for the announcement, and for me it’s the most special thing to be a part of my country’s Olympic team!" 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping
Kim Emmen and Jack van het Dennehof placed third. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

With 15 in the jump-off, course designer Santiago Varela was questioned if the first-round track perhaps had been too easy. "The reality is, the course did not look easy but the riders interpreted it very well and the horses jumped really well," he said. "Also, we had the forecast that it could rain more than it did and you have to be fair with everyone. I am happy with the Grand Prix, I can only congratulate the riders, they did a super job and we had a super jump-off. When Sanne was the first in the jump-off, I thought we had the winner." 

Dutch Chef d'Equipe Rob Ehrens was happy with his riders. "Big compliments to Sanne, it was amazing and the jump-off was excellent from start to finish," he said. "We are happy that both ladies gave a good example of how jump-off riding is not only about speed, but the brain – and both of the girls did it with a good brain, and then it looks like it is simple and the horses like it. This is what we want to see. I must say, I prefer a little bit more clear rounds, good sport and good competition, so I was happy." 

"What we saw today, is that there is a lot talent coming up," Ehrens said about the coming team selections. "We also have the European Championships coming, so we have to look into what we want to do. When you see the talent growing and the performances they make, I have to keep that in mind and we have to see that the older ones don't pull the wagon alone. My head is already turned left and right, but I keep it in mind and it is good! Our sport is very simple: The better you ride, the better your management is, the more consistent your results are, and you get there." 

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