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Inside the Rolex Grand Slam: Road to The Dutch Masters 2023

Thursday, 02 March 2023
Inside the Rolex Grand Slam

The Dutch Masters 2023: Rider watch

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Peggy Schröder. Daniel Deusser. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Peggy Schröder.


Press release from the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping



The Dutch Masters returns from 9-12 March 2023 and will play host to the first Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major of the year. The four-day show will showcase some of the finest horse and rider combinations and will culminate on Sunday with the Rolex Grand Prix. Heading to this prestigious event and seeking to claim this pinnacle class will be eight of the world’s current top 10-ranked riders, as well as seven Rolex Testimonees. 

The current Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Live Contender McLain Ward makes the journey from America with two of his top horses – HH Azur and Contagious. The American, who wowed the crowds at CHI Geneva with his exceptional jump-off performance in the Rolex Grand Prix, has continued his triumphant form at the Winter Equestrian Festival this year, recently winning a CSI5* Grand Prix. Ward will travel to The Dutch Masters brimming with confidence and hoping to impress in Europe.

This year’s competition is set to be one of the toughest yet with numerous former Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major winners in attendance. Leading the way is Rolex Testimonee, Daniel Deusser, the defending champion of the Rolex Grand Prix held under the bright lights of the Brabanthallen. The German is a fierce competitor and knows how to perform at high-pressured Majors, having won two last year. The three-time Dutch Masters Grand Prix winner will be looking to restart his quest to become only the second person to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Deusser will be joined by compatriot, and winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen, Gerrit Nieberg, who will be aiming to claim his first victory at this iconic show. 

World No 1. Henrik von Eckermann adds to the impressive list of entries this year and is always one to be at the top of the leader boards. The Swedish rider ended 2022 with a sensational win in the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final held at CHI Geneva with his incredible gelding, King Edward. Von Eckermann is the ultimate horseman and has now held the World No.1 position consecutively for the past seven months. As a previous winner of the Rolex Grand Prix held at The Dutch Masters, having won in 2019 with the sensational Toveks Mary Lou, all eyes will be on the World No.1 when he rides into the main arena. Fellow countryman, Peder Fredricson, with whom von Eckermann won Team gold at the FEI World Championships last summer, will also line up in 's-Hertogenbosch. 

Two of Switzerland’s most decorated show jumpers, World No.2 Martin Fuchs and Steve Guerdat, will also be in attendance. The duo, who have won six Rolex Grand Slam Majors between them, have never been able to claim this prized trophy; however, both riders understand the precision, bravery and athleticism required by horse and rider to be successful, and will be two of the favourites going into the class on Sunday.



Live contender interview: Mclain Ward

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof. Mclain Ward. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof.

Congratulations! You are the Rolex Grand Slam Live Contender, how are you feeling ahead of The Dutch Masters? Which horse do you plan to compete with in the Rolex Grand Prix?

I am extremely excited to attend and compete at The Dutch Masters. The four Rolex Grand Slam Majors are some of the most prestigious events in the show jumping calendar. These Majors have elevated the sport as they represent an opportunity to showcase the highest quality of jumping in the sport. 

I am planning on bringing two of my horses, HH Azur and Contagious, both of whom competed at CHI Geneva. They have been performing very well on the winter circuit. For HH Azur, I have been adapting her training schedule to ensure that she is at her peak performance at The Dutch Masters. Hopefully we will have prepared correctly so that we execute a great performance. 

What have you been up to since winning the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva, and how have you been preparing yourself and your horses for The Dutch Masters?

It is important to take time to yourself between seasons to reset and to feel prepared. Currently, I am competing on the winter circuit in Wellington, Florida as this provides a variety of classes that all my horses can compete in. In terms of the preparations for HH Azur and Contagious prior to The Dutch Masters, it is important for them to compete in the build-up to the show. HH Azur is 17-years-old now, so she does not compete as often anymore – instead we just aim her at the most important competitions. On the other hand, Contagious competes more often, I am planning on jumping with him this week at the 5* classes here in Florida. This will be his last show before we travel abroad.



The Dutch Masters 2023: Highlights

Photo © The Dutch Masters / Remco Veurink. The Dutch Masters returns from 9-12 March 2023. Photo © The Dutch Masters / Remco Veurink.

The highly anticipated Dutch Masters returns this year from 9-12 March with a spectacular schedule of sport and entertainment. Hosting the first Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major of the calendar year, this iconic show will see some of the world’s best horse and rider combinations fight to claim one of the most prestigious prizes in show jumping, the Rolex Grand Prix. This year, The Dutch Masters will welcome the return of both a second arena and national competitions. This second arena, as per tradition, will host the majority of the national competitions taking place throughout the show. 

The action in the main arena begins on Thursday 9 March with the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix presented by RS2 Dressage, where elegance, precision and harmony will be seen in abundance. Crowds are sure to be in awe of these partnerships they ‘dance’ together. Britain’s Charlotte Fry and the stunning black stallion Glamourdale will surely be the favourites when they enter the arena. The double Individual gold medallists at the 2022 FEI World Championships have gone from strength to strength and have continued to impress judges and crowds alike since their victory in Herning. Rolex Testimonee, Germany’s Isabell Werth and the Netherlands’ Dinja van Liere will also be contesting the top spot on the leader board. Dressage fans will be treated to a masterclass from some of the world’s best in the discipline, including Charlotte Fry, Britt Dekker, Samantha Steenwijk & Anky van Grunsven later on in the day. Meanwhile, in the second arena, the national competition commences with two jumping classes. 

With seven classes taking place across the main arena and the second arena, Friday in the Brabanthallen will be action-packed. First off in the second arena is the KNHS Para Dressuur Trophy, which will see para-dressage riders competing in a Freestyle to Music competition.



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 classes’ 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. If two shows are won in succession, the bonus is €500,000 or if an athlete wins two majors in a period of four successive shows, the bonus is €250,000.

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