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Inside The Dutch Masters with Leopold van Asten, Denise Moriarty and Anky van Grunsven

Saturday, 16 March 2019
CSI5* The Dutch Masters 2019
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Leopold van Asten. Photo (c) Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof. Leopold van Asten. Photo (c) Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof.

It's a home win for Leopold van Asten in the first Rolex Grand Prix qualifier

Photo (c) Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof Leopold van Asten. Photo (c) Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof.

The first qualifier for the Rolex Grand Prix kicked off in style with Dutch rider Leopold van Asten clinching a home win aboard VDL Groep Beauty, much to the delight of his on-looking sponsor, in the VDL Groep Prize. Last year’s Rolex Grand Prix winner, Niels Bruynseels (BEL), set the bar high with a time of 28.18 secs but it was not fast enough as Leopold van Asten and his super speedy mare secured the win by a fraction, stopping the clock at 27.82 secs. 


What were your thoughts heading into the jump-off? 

I saw Niels ride before me, he was very fast and had a very good round, so I knew that I really had to go for it. I knew that Beauty is naturally a fast horse, so I tried to get a smooth round and it went well. I didn’t have to pull anywhere, I didn’t have to wait anywhere and luckily in the end it was enough. 


Are you riding VDL Groep Beauty on Sunday? 

No, I am not riding her on Sunday for the Rolex Grand Prix. I made a plan to jump her today and tomorrow, and will jump Miss Untouchable on Sunday. 


The audience are very close to the action at The Dutch Masters, do you notice that when in the ring? 

I think the audience is always close to the action, it doesn’t change anything for me. It didn’t ride any different this year. The atmosphere was very good for a Friday evening, the audience were cheering lots, seemed very happy and were really loud which is nice to hear. I think it’s going to be an exciting two days ahead.

Behind the stable door with: Denise Moriarty, talking about flying horses!

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

How long does it take for the horses to recover from flying? 

Every horse is different, the more well-travelled sleep, they know what’s going on, so they are quite relaxed. The younger, more inexperienced ones take longer to recover because they spend a lot of the flight feeling tense. So, on the other side they sleep for a lot longer. The main thing is to monitor the water intake that they have, if you know that they aren’t going to drink much water we give them extra fluids before or after. If you pay attention to this the recovery time can be quite quick. 


Have you had passengers asking where you keep going? 

Yes, all the time people get confused as to where you are going, because we keep disappearing and then come back smelling of horses through a small door at the back, covered in hay, water and carrots. So, the public wonder where we come from and ask questions. They do see the plane get unloaded though, so they do see the horses at the end.

Words from the Organiser with: Show President Anky van Grunsven

Photo (c) Remco Veurink Photo (c) Remco Veurink

You have been a competitor at the event and now you are the Show President, how does the experience differ? 

It’s completely different! When I was competing, I was just worried about my own conditions, my horse, the warm-up and the main arena. I was so focused on my competition, I didn’t realize how much was going on in the background to put on an event like this. This is a completely different experience, there are so many dimensions I never knew about but it’s very interesting and I am learning so much, I love it. 


What are the main challenges of putting on an event like The Dutch Masters? 

We are always working hard to make sure we are one of the best indoor shows in the world, so we are always looking at how we can improve and making sure that everything we do is of the best quality. For me, in some ways, it is the same feeling I had when I was riding – I was always looking at what was good, but also how I could make it better. I think that’s why this is one of the biggest competitions in the world now, as we are always working to improve the experience for the riders and the spectators.



About the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping

The Rolex Grand Slam is considered by the sport to be the ultimate equestrian challenge,  primarily due to the sporting prowess required to achieve this feat. It is a quest taken on by the world’s top riders, vying to secure the legendary status associated with winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Launched in 2013, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is the only initiative to reward the outstanding rider who wins three Majors consecutively, at four of the world’s most historic shows – The Dutch Masters, CHIO Aachen, CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ and CHI Geneva. Considered by the sport to be the ultimate equestrian challenge, it rewards the very best horse and rider combination with a €1 million bonus. If all four Majors are won in succession, a further €1 million bonus is awarded. If two shows are won in succession, the bonus is €500,000. If the rider is successful in qualifying for the “two out of four mode”, but doesn’t claim the victories at two consecutive shows, the bonus totals €250,000. It is only the rider that counts, therefore it is possible to claim the bonus riding different horses.

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