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Niels Bruynseels steals the show in €800,000 Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters

Sunday, 11 March 2018
CSI5* Dutch Masters 2018

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Niels Bruynseels with Gancia de Muze. All photos (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Niels Bruynseels (BEL) made history when taking the win in the inaugural Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. “It is one of my biggest victories, and it is a real honour for me to compete against the best riders in the world. Of course I will try to go to Aachen and win there – it is one of my goals now,” Bruynseels said about how he will focus on the chance to win the €1 million bonus that is rewarded to any rider who wins three Grand Slam shows in a row.

The first-round track – build by Louis Konickx (NED) – was very delicate with several variations between longer and shorter distances, and both horses and riders needed to be in full focus all the way through. The triple combination set as fence no. four – with the b-element being one of the highest of the course with its 1,60m – and the combination at no. eleven caused a lot of problems, but it was no. eight – an airy oxer with light blue poles – that was the heartbreaker of the Grand Prix.

“I think it was quite clear already after the first five-six riders that no. eight was very difficult, so the rest of us watched out for that fence,” Bruynseels explained.

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Winners: Niels Bruynseels and Gancia de Muze.

The crowds had to wait until rider no. seven to get their first clear, but it was worth it as it came from one of their own: Marc Houtzager (NED) on Sterrehof’s Calimero (Quidam de Revell x Achill). Houtzager made the difficult course look very easy with a text-book round. In the end, thirteen of the world’s best riders and horses moved forward to the jump-off and what a treat it turned out to be for everyone watching.

Houtzager kicked off the jump-off with a score of four faults, while Patrice Delaveau (FRA) with Aquila HDC (Ovidius x Bollvorm’s Lauriston) notched up eight faults. Jur Vrieling (NED) with VDL Glasgow vh Merelsnest N.O.P. (Nabab de Reve x Udarco) was next to go, and he rode as if in a pure pony race at the beginning of his round to steady it a bit towards the end – to finish in 39,89 seconds. Philipp Weishaupt (GER), who has already won the Rolex Grand Slam Grand Prix in both Aachen and Spruce Meadows with today’s ride LB Convall (Colman x Cascavelle), wanted to add Den Bosch to his list. And Weishaupt pulled off an amazing time with 35,99 seconds, but with the last two fences falling he fell down on the result list.

Bertram Allen (IRL) was next out riding the 12-year-old Gin Chin van het Lindenhof (Chin Chin x Calido I). With full speed from start to finish he took over the lead from Vrieling with his 38,74 seconds. Rolex Grand Slam Champion Scott Brash (GBR) on the other hand had to see the a-element of the combination fall, and ended the course with four faults riding Ursula XII (Ahorn x Papageno).

Luciana Diniz (POR) and Fit For Fun 13 (For Pleasure x Fabriano) had quite a scary moment on fence no. eight in the first round, and had to continue to the next fences with long reins but the two of them miraculously found back to their rhythm to clear the course. In the jump-off they looked like the new leaders all the way to the last fence, that unfortunately fell to the ground.

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Runner-up position for Marcus Ehning and Cornado NRW.

Marcus Ehning (GER) and Cornado NRW (Cornet Obolensky x Acobat) shaved off almost a second of Allen’s time to take over the lead after a typical Ehning jump-off that look effortlessly smooth. Home hero Harrie Smolders (NED) was next to go with Emerald (Diamant de Semilly x Carthago Z) and squeezed in on a second place, just 0,09 seconds behind Ehning – to wild cheers from the home crowds.  

Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) did a very fast round with the unbelievable Mary Lou 194 (Montendro x Portland L), but as yesterday the last fence was not on his side and it fell to the ground. Steve Guerdat (SUI) on the other hand had the very first fence down, riding the bouncy Bianca (Balou du Rouet x Cardento). Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) was second last to go and he didn’t take too much risk with Idi Utopia (Quasimodo Z x Udarco) to end on the slowest clear in the jump-off and on a 6th place.

As last to go Niels Bruynseels knew he had a chance riding the very fast Gancia de Muze (Malito de Reve x Nimmerdor), and went all in – a risk that paid off as he crossed the finish line in 37,10 seconds to be celebrated with a standing ovation by the enthusiastic crowds.  

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Third place to Harrie Smolders with Emerald.

“I saw a few riders go in the jump-off, and I knew I had to be really, really fast but I also know that I have a very fast horse. I actually had to take a few very big risks, but it went well,” Bruynseels said about his jump-off. “I think I have something with Rolex, because this is the third Rolex Grand Prix that I win.”

“The course designer did a very, very fair job today. Even with this amount of prize money. Not all the course designers are building as fair as him. Maybe the time allowed was a bit long, but he was really building for the horses and I think the audience saw an incredible jump-off,” commented runner-up Marcus Ehning about the class.

“This is only the third or fourth show for Emerald after his break, and I thought he was still missing a little bit of power. But he was third on the first day and third today against the best riders and horses in the world. It was top class sport,” third placed Smolders said.

“We as riders would have hoped for a little bit more time pressure in the first round to sort out a few combinations, but for the crowd to watch this jump-off – it was an amazing sport. We like to give as much as possible back and I think we gave the audience value for their ticket money and what they deserved to watch,” Smolders concluded.


Text and pictures © World of Showjumping

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