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Max Kühner and Elektric Blue P take all the risk to win the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters

Sunday, 25 April 2021
The Dutch Masters 2021

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Max Kühner and Elektric Blue P won the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



The Dutch Masters in s’Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, concluded on Sunday with the prestigious CSI5* 1.60m €700,000 Rolex Grand Prix, which offered superb sport. Seven out of the world's top ten ranked riders were among the 43 starters lining up for the battle to become the next Rolex Grand Slam Live Contender. 

The excitement kept escalating until the very end, and the 1.60m course set by Louis Konickx (NED) was certainly not a walk in the park. With an oxer-plank-oxer triple combination as fence number four, followed by two more combinations at fence eight as well as at fence number thirteen, the horses and riders in the Brabanthallen were up for a huge challenge. The last part of the course – a related distance from a vertical at fence number eleven to an oxer at number twelve, ending with a vertical-vertical combination – caused most problems.  

Eight pairs cleared the first round and joined the deciding jump-off: Philipp Weishaupt (GER) on Coby (Contagio x Escudo 19) was the first to clear the demanding track and was followed by his teammate from Ludger Beerbaum Stables; Christian Kukuk (GER) on Checker 47 (Comme Il Faut x Come on). Willem Greve (NED) on Carambole (San Patrignano Cassini x Concerto II), Gudrun Patteet (BEL) on Sea Coast Pebbles Z (Picasso x Flamenco de Semilly), Luciana Diniz (POR) on Vertigo Du Desert (Mylord Carthago x Robin II Z), Jerome Guery (BEL) on Quel Homme de Hus (Quidam de Revel x Candillo), Max Kühner (AUT) on Elektric Blue P (Eldorado Vd Zeshoek x For Pleasure) and Marlon Modolo Zanotelli (BRA) VDL Edgar M (Arezzo VDL x Marlon) joined the two Germans in the battle for the coveted Rolex Grand Prix-title. Unfortunately for Laura Kraut (USA) and Confu (Contact Me x Cambridge), they fell victim of the time allowed and a single penalty point kept them away from the jump-off. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Max Kühner and Elektric Blue P delivered an incredible jump-off in the Rolex Grand Prix. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

First to go in the jump-off, Weishaupt galloped Coby flat out to the last Rolex-oxer, setting the time to beat to 33.71 seconds. However, Kukuk followed and dared Checker 47 from start to finish, clearing the penultimate vertical on an amazing angle, shaving fractions off Weishaupt’s time and taking over the lead with a time of 33.57. As the pressure was on, chasing Kukuk’s time resulted in poles falling – until Austria’s Max Kühner entered the ring. Riding Elektric Blue P, Kühner started the first fence with an angle, taking every risk around the track including a brave, big stride into the combination. Kühner’s efforts paid off, as the Austrian rider crossed the finish line in 32.52 seconds – pushing Kukuk down to runner-up position. As last man out, Marlon Modolo Zanotelli on VDL Edgar M got close, but not close enough – with a time of 32.69, the Brazilian slotted in between Kühner and Kukuk.

For Kühner, topping the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters marked the biggest win of his career, while Zanotelli had to settle the second place. Kukuk took the third spot followed by Weishaupt in fourth and Greve in fifth as the best Dutch rider. "Fantastic!" Kühner answered when asked about how it felt to have won the Rolex Grand Prix. "Honestly, I did not really have a plan – I just saw Philipp and then Christian, and I knew I had to take everything on one card and risk everything if I wanted to get close to them. I honestly thought that they were more or less the winners already.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Runners-up Marlon Modolo Zanotelli and VDL Edgar M. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

"I had two moments where I really rode over a little bit my instinct and it worked out well,” Kühner explained. "The Rolex Grand Slam Grand Prix is one of the most difficult classes in our sport and I think it is an important aim for every rider, to win one, or maybe more, of these."

“I was lucky to watch some of my colleagues before and we always count the strides between the fences, and from fence three to the combination it was really long eight, so probably when you start to ride this distance you don't see the eight, so you first have to go and then the eight are coming – hopefully. Especially, when there is a combination where the horses have to collect again in this one stride, you have to ride a little bit into nothing, so this was the one moment. The second moment was  to the last fence; when I just turned and went forward the oxer from the distance was unbelievably far away, but I said to myself 'just go once more' and then it was there and it worked out. I really wanted to win this," Kühner detailed. 

Speaking of his winning mount, a 10-year-old DSP-gelding, Kühner said: "Elektric Blue P is a fantastic horse. We have had him since he was two years old. I just saw one jump on a video on an auction and bought him. Since we started working with him, he always did a very good job."  

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Christian Kukuk and Checker 47 ended third. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Runner-up Marlon Modolo Zanotelli was beaten, but not at all disappointed. “I was lucky to be at the end of the class so I could watch everybody in the jump-off," Modolo Zanotelli said. "Everybody was doing five strides on the first line. My horse has a huge stride so I thought I could go down on eight strides to the double, like Max did. I think Max was a lot faster than me to the last fence, and I think that is where I probably lost the Grand Prix, but I am delighted with my horse – he did an amazing job. We have to thank Rolex and the whole organisation at The Dutch Masters for putting together this show. For us riders, the facilities here were amazing and it felt like we were at a proper show with the sound. We did not have public, but in the ring it sounded like you had the public with you, and I think it made us ride even better. I really have to thank the Gjelsten-family who has secured Edgar for me, so the plan is that we can go further into this year and jump the Olympics – hopefully." 

For third-placed Kukuk, this was his first ever Rolex Grand Prix and the 31-year-old said he is quite green to this level. "I am very happy to be here," Kukuk said. "In the jump-off, for sure Philipp and me, we were not lucky with the draw, so we were first and second to go. I watched Philipp on the screen, and as always, he tried everything and was fast already – so I also had to put everything on one card. I have a very fast horse, and I was a bit faster than him, but in the end – as Max said – he rode twice over his instinct and probably that was what I was not doing and that's why I'm third now and he won. I am still very happy on the inside, but I am a sportsman and when I see this Rolex watch there, it could fit me also," he laughed. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Max Kühner is now the new Rolex Grand Slam Live Contender, chasing lucrative bonuses at the Majors at CHIO Aachen, Spruce Meadows and CHI Geneva. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Willem Greve, who took the fifth spot as the best Dutch rider was full of praise – for both the organisers of The Dutch Masters as well as his long-time partner Carambole. "I can only be very proud and thankful to my horse for the way he jumped the whole weekend, he is 17-years-old and jumping with the best in the world, and that makes me very happy," he said. "This event was a different experience for everyone, but the conditions were perfect, and the sport was as good as ever!"

Max Kühner is now the new Rolex Grand Slam Live Contender, chasing lucrative bonuses at the Majors at CHIO Aachen, Spruce Meadows and CHI Geneva. 


No reproduction without written permission, copyright World of Showjumping 

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