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Henrik von Eckermann and Tovek’s Mary Lou win the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters

Sunday, 17 March 2019
CSI5* The Dutch Masters 2019

Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson Tovek's Mary Lou inspecting the trophy after winning the Rolex Grand Prix of Showjumping with Henrik von Eckermann. Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson.

Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) and Tovek’s Mary Lou (Montender x Portland L) are on top form. Seven weeks after having won the World Cup in Amsterdam, the pair conquered another Dutch city when winning Sunday’s Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping Grand Prix in Den Bosch. 

After a thrilling first round it was set for an epic jump-off, where the crème de la crème of the showjumping elite would battle it out for 900.000 Euro in prize money not to forget a place in the history books. The Major-winner at The Dutch Masters, would become the next live contender in the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping with huge bonuses waiting ahead at the coming Majors. 

The thirteen-fence track set by mastermind Louis Konickx was certainly not an easy test. Out of the forty world-class horse-and-rider combination in the Rolex Grand Prix, only five managed to solve the questions asked to deliver clear rounds and two – both home heroes – missed out on the jump-off when recording an agonising time penalty each. Time and time again poles fell in the triple combination, on the upright at ten – build with naturally coloured wooden poles – and finally at the last combination where the thin black plank leading in fell over and over. “To be honest it was not really my course with that last line,” Von Eckermann said afterwards. “I had a lot of head ache before I went in because of that line. Normally I always add one stride to a combination, to make Mary Lou sit a bit behind but with the time that was not an option,” Von Eckermann added. “Louis did a good job though. I was hoping it would be difficult enough, so we would not end up with twelve clears.”

Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson Henrik von Eckermann and Tovek’s Mary Lou en route to victory in the Rolex Grand Prix in Den Bosch. Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson.

A fully seated Brabanthalle had to wait until start no. 27 entered the ring before a clear round was delivered, and it came from Daniel Deusser (GER) and Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z (Tangelo vd Zuuthoeve x Mr. Blue) that produced a stunning performance. Up until then it was only Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) and Marc Houtzager (NED) that had managed to stay clear on the fences, but both crossed the finish line on a costly time penalty – much to the disappointment of the home crowds. Following Deusser in the ring was world no. one Steve Guerdat and Albführen’s Bianca (Balou du Rouet x Cardento), that hot on his heals secured a jump-off with a clear round. Joining in was also Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) on Tovek’s Mary Lou (Montendro x Portland L), last year’s winners Niels Bruynseels (BEL) and Gancia de Muze (Malito de Reve x Nimmerdor) as well as Peder Fredricson (SWE) on H&M Christian K (Namelus R x Calvados). 

Daniel Deusser and Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z opened the jump-off, but the run to the third oxer did not go quite as planned – a misunderstanding in the turn past the Rolex Grand Slam sign caused a small hick-up – and the two had to see a pole fall to finish on four faults. 

Steve Guerdat and Albführen’s Bianca were next in the ring, got the inside turn after the VDL Groep oxer by the Grand Slam sign just right and raced down to the last Rolex oxer to cross the finish line in 41.08 seconds – taking the lead. 

Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson Runners-up: Steve Guerdat and the incredible Albführen’s Bianca. Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson.

“There is not much else I could have done, my mare jumped amazing but she loses so much time in the air going so high,” Guerdat commented on his jump-off. “But, it’s very enjoyable to have this ‘problem’ in a Grand Prix like this where everybody is struggling while you actually go around and have a lot of fun – in the air!” Guerdat smiled. 

Fresh from his World Cup win in Amsterdam, where he beat some of the world’s very best, Henrik von Eckermann went in full of confidence in his extremely brave and quick mare. Lightning fast everywhere with some incredible turns, and flat out on the two long stretches in the jump-off the fantastic couple brought the spectators to the edges of their seats as they flew over the final fence to shave off 0.63 seconds.

Niels Bruynseels set off ready to challenge Von Eckermann, however landed on the back pole on the Rolex oxer half way and opted to go out with his wonderful little mare – eventually ending fifth. 

It was going to be a Swedish win, because last in the ring was Peder Fredricson. However, he clipped a rail on the penultimate oxer – slipping into third ahead of Daniel Deusser. 

Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson Third place went to Peder Fredricson and H&M Christian K. Photo © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson.

“It was a case of make it or break it,” Von Eckermann laughed after the class when speaking about his strategy for the jump-off. “It was only five in the jump-off, and I wanted to try to make it to the top of the podium. I was lucky because I could watch Daniel, he was on 44-seconds and was not all that slow despite what happened and when I saw that Steve was on 41 I knew I had to push it. I tried to take as much risk as possible without doing anything stupid.”

“She has so much nerve, but she still manages to stay so cool somehow,” Von Eckermann said about Tovek’s Mary Lou. “I can feel it when we enter the ring, it is like she knows what it is all about and gives you that little extra.”

“It is definitely special to win one of the Majors of the Rolex Grand Slams of Show Jumping. I have tried for a long time, and came close a few times – but never won. It is one of those wins you would really like to get as a rider!” Von Eckermann smiled. 

As the live contender, Von Eckermann is up for a Grand Slam bonus of 250 000 Euro if winning the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen in July. “We’ll take that then,” the happy winner laughed as he sets sail to head for the World Cup Final on home soil in Gothenburg in April – full of confidence.

 

 


Text © World of Showjumping 

Photos © World of Showjumping by Jenny Abrahamsson

No reproduction without permission, copyright © World of Showjumping

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