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Inside the Dutch Masters 2024: Dutch delight in the VDL Groep Prize

Saturday, 09 March 2024
CSI5* The Dutch Masters 2024

Photo © The Dutch Masters / Remco Veurink. Maikel van der Vleuten and Beauville Z N.O.P., winners of the VDL Groep Prize at The Dutch Masters 2024. Photo © The Dutch Masters / Remco Veurink.


Press release from Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping



Friday marked the first day of international show jumping at this year’s edition of The Dutch Masters with the pinnacle class coming from the VDL Groep Prize. Held under the bright lights of the Brabanthallen, the world’s best horse and rider combinations gathered to take on Louis Konickx’s technically designed 1.55m course.

Fittingly, the first of the 42 riders to enter the arena was the long-standing world no.1 Henrik von Eckermann with his sensational gelding King Edward. The pair who are the reigning FEI World Champions could not quite produce the round that they wanted when collecting four faults.

Rolex Testimonee and third into the arena, Bertram Allen, was the first rider to produce a clear round and set the standard for those to follow. This was quickly followed, much to the delight of the home crowd, by Dutch rider Frank Schuttert, who ensured that there would be a jump-off. Clears came throughout the talented field, including FEI European Champions Steve Guerdat and Dynamix de Belheme, as well as fellow Rolex Testimonee, Daniel Deusser – a three-time winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at the venue – who once again showed himself to be a true expert of the main arena at this prestigious show with a stylish clear round...

Interview with Louis Konickx

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Thomas Lovelock. Louis Konickx. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Thomas Lovelock.

For you, why is The Dutch Masters such a special show?

It is an incredible show and I have so many special memories here. When I arrived here on Tuesday to lay out the poles with my team, we were in awe – the arena is so beautiful and the shopping village is amazing. In my opinion, there is no other show quite like it. As a course designer, there are very few limits here, which allows us to be very creative. Every show has a shopping village or a nice area, but the atmosphere and the energy here is just something else. 

Can you tell us a little bit about the course that you have designed for Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix?

Every year when I start designing the course for The Dutch Masters, I am filled with memories from the past years. A week or so ago, we put the planned course on paper with the correct arena dimensions. We had a beautiful course, but we soon realized that something was wrong – all of the combinations were on the right-hand side of the arena, and we could not seem to change it without ruining the course. We soon figured out a solution, and I think that this is a special course – there is a turn back which I do not think that you see in many arenas. The riders will jump a double and then do a tight turn back to another double. Quintin [Maertens], who is much more precise at measuring than me, wanted to check that this turn could actually be done, and so on Thursday we went into the main arena and tested it out to make sure that it worked – it was such a relief to know that it would work...

Interview with Marcel Hunze

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Thomas Lovelock. Marcel Hunze. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Thomas Lovelock.

How has planning gone for this year’s edition of The Dutch Masters?

It has been going very well. We were able to start the build slightly earlier this year – we started with the main arena around four weeks ago. We have already received great feedback on how the arena and venue look, and so we are really excited for the 2024 edition of the show. Ticket sales have also gone very well; the sessions are sold out from this evening [Friday] and for the rest of the weekend. We are very excited to welcome our fans. 

2024 is an important year for The Dutch Masters. Not only is it the final Major to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, but 2024 also represents the 10 year anniversary of Rolex at the Main Sponsor of the show.

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping has been instrumental in developing The Dutch Masters. In my opinion, we have been a good show since the first edition back in 1967. However, since we became part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, there has been a significant difference in the set up. It has allowed us to really focus on the quality of the event. It has enabled us to develop the Main Arena and the Shopping Village. We were able to improve and focus on the quality of the show. We also have the best of the best riders here at the show – we generally see 20 out of the top 30 ranked riders competing here, which is brilliant. This improvement is thanks to the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, and it has raised our show to the next level...



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.

The format of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is simple: anyone who wins three Majors in a row receives the Rolex Grand Slam trophy and a €1 million bonus on top of the class’s prize-money. If that same rider then continues their success by winning a fourth Major in succession, they will be rewarded with an additional €1 million bonus.

Previous winners of the Rolex Grand Slam Majors

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