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A dream comes true for Willem Greve as Highway TN N.O.P. wins the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters

Sunday, 10 March 2024
CSI5* The Dutch Masters 2024

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ. Willem Greve and Highway TN N.O.P. took a popular home win in the first Major of the year in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping at The Dutch Masters. All photos © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



“It is a dream come true,” Willem Greve said after finishing the 2024-edition of The Dutch Masters with a win in Sunday's €1,000,000 CSI5* 1.60m Rolex Grand Prix.

Sunday's Rolex Grand Prix in ‘s-Hertogenbosch was the first Major of the year in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, and the crowd at the sold-out Brabanthallen were brought to their feet with a class that remained exciting until the very end. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ. Willem Greve and Highway TN N.O.P.

With 39 of some of the world’s best horse-and-rider-combinations at start, the first-round track set by Dutch course designer Louis Konickx was on par with the top-level starting field. As the second pair out, Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Leone Jei (Baltic VDL x Corland) posted the first clear and were immediately joined for a jump-off by current world no. one Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward (Edward 28 x Feo), as well as Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Ace of Hearts (Aliandro B x Ra), Julien Epaillard (FRA) and Dubai du Cedre (Baloubet du Rouet x Diamant de Semilly), Harrie Smolders (NED) and Uricas van de Kattevennen (Uriko x San Patrignano Cassini) and Marcus Ehning (GER) aboard Priam du Roset (Plot Blue x Tanael du Serein). 

Germany’s Richard Vogel came to Den Bosch as the Grand Slam live contender following his win in the Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva last December, and while his round with the sharp Cepano Baloubet (Chaman x Stakkato’s Highlight) looked picture perfect at the beginning it all fell apart at fence ten and the German rider was kept out of the jump-off this time around. 

Eventually, the jump-off counted nine as Denis Lynch (IRL) and Brooklyn Heights (Nabab de Reve x For Pleasure), Pieter Devos (BEL) and Toupie de La Roque (Kannan x Nabab de Reve) as well as Willem Greve (NED) and Highway TN N.O.P. (Eldorado vd Zeshoek x Chellano) all delivered clear rounds as well.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ. Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward had to settle for second.

In the jump-off, it was von Eckermann and King Edward that threw down the gauntlet when setting the time to beat to 33.70 seconds. The time remained untouched until the very last pair entered the ring; home heroes Willem Greve and Highway TN N.O.P. Nailing his rollbacks, Greve was still behind von Eckermann’s time halfway through his round, but by risking it all in his approach to the final fence, he managed to snatch the win from the Swede with the smallest of margins – 0.04 second ahead.

“It was not the smoothest jump-off I have ever ridden, but in the end it was fast enough,” Greve said afterwards. “There was nothing going in my head as I rode in, I was totally blank, really in a bubble and after I jumped out of the bubble! I could not believe it, I thought I was never going to catch Henrik; he was so fast.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ. "I could not believe it, I thought I was never going to catch Henrik; he was so fast," Greve said afterwards.

“I could really go for the six strides to the second last jump and Highway is so extremely fast,” Greve explained further. “I saw a really long distance to the last, I took it and he jumped it well. I could not believe it when I came to the finish line that I was faster than Henrik, because I knew while I was riding that I was behind; I could feel it. However, my horse never gives up and we fought until the end and it was enough. I am very proud of him and everybody around us.”  

“I got Highway when he was seven,” Greve told about his 12-year-old stallion. “I knew he had the last quality; he has always been a very sharp horse with a super mentality. The question was only how much scope he would have, so we gave him a lot of time at 1.45m-1.50m level. He really grew to the higher level besides Carambole and then Grandorado. In the end, looking back, I think it was the perfect set up for him, because he could grow in the shadow and when Grandorado fell out last year, Highway took over and he was like 'why did you not ask me before?'. The feeling that he gives me, is that he always tries a 120% – maybe even 200%. He gives you everything and now he has really matured in his body, he has gotten stronger and looking back I think he had the perfect path in his career.” 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ. "I am very pleased with the third place, Uricas jumped fantastic," third placed Harrie Smolders said.

While von Eckermann had to settle for second, Smolders and Uricas van de Kattevennen completed the podium in 34.66, followed by Fuchs and Leone Jei in fourth in 35.11 and Lynch aboard Brooklyn Heights in fifth in 37.89. 

“I don’t want to come second, but all credit to Willem,” second placed von Eckermann said. “Willem went in last and made a fantastic round. And all credit to my horse as well, he has been second in three Grand Prix classes in a row now. Of course, now sitting here being second is not the best feeling to have, but I am just grateful for my horse and the owners I have.” 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ. "Without my team, I am nothing," Greve said.

“I think my first turn was almost too tight,” third placed Smolders commented. “That slowed me a little bit on the seven strides and then he stumbled a little bit before the last fence. The level is so high and if that happens in a jump-off, then you have lost a bit already, so I am very pleased with the third place. Uricas jumped fantastic and this is his first big show after a winter break so I am looking forward to the outdoor season.” 

“I want to enjoy this first,” Greve – who is now the new Rolex live contender in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping – smiled when asked if this win affects his planning for the big summer ahead. “The next Major is Aachen, we will see, we will try to make a good plan with my team,” he continued. “What can I do without my team? From the owners, Team Nijhof, to my grooms, the vets and the farrier, there are so many people involved. We all work together to keep the horses as happy and fit as possible. Without my team, I am nothing; I am so grateful to have them behind me.” 


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