Well it seems only natural that the lovely Simon, should be our featured Horse of the Week. This horse has been the top-international pick of not one leading jockey, but two. Having earned his claim to fame with Olympic Gold medallist Jeroen Dubbeldam, Simon has become one of those horses who has earned high regard from not only one, but two Olympic gold medallists. The horses ability is second to none and it is obvious that he was pre-destined to enjoy the highest pinnacle of international show jumping.
Two years ago, Simon’s name was published in every major Dutch and European equine-related press medium as experts and commentators acknowledged this zealous gelding as a significant asset to the Netherlands. He was considered one of the most prominent hopes for Olympic fame for the coming Games in London. Traveling to Spruce Meadows Masters in Calgary in 2010, Simon and Dubbeldam performed exceptionally well, capturing the prestigious $1,000,000 CN International Grand Prix of Calgary. They were the only combination to finish clear, although the pair acquired a time fault in the second round. However, that did not stop Dubbeldam from claiming the first place prize money, allowing the highly-respected Dutchman to take home € 244,240.00.
Having won the 2010 CN International Grand Prix of Calgary and the World Cup qualifier in Verona, it was only natural that Simon be named three times on the Dutch team for 2011. In Aachen and Rome, Dubbeldam and Simon were both members of the winning Nations Cup team for the Netherlands, while in Rotterdam the Orange quartet finished fourth. That same year, Simon and Dubbeldam finished second in the Grand Prix of Rotterdam and the Grand Prix of ‘s Hertogenbosch while they finished third in the Grand Prix of Rome. During the European Championships in Madrid, Spain, the famous Dutch combination finished sixth overall in the Individual European Championship, while finishing fourth as members of the Dutch team.
It was in the fall of 2011, that the international show jumping community learned that BMC Van Grunsven Simon would now compete under the red, white and blue, having been sold to US Olympic gold medallist Beezie Madden. As news broke through out the international show jumping community in early November, there were feelings of shock within the Dutch community but American fans everywhere were overjoyed at the prospect of top ranking lady rider Beezie Madden, taking over the ride on such a horse however the new partnership took its time to develop.
They won their first Grand Prix together, in Wellington, Florida, and outside of a mis-step during U.S. trials enjoyed a string of great results in Palm Beach. Beezie took it easy with the notable mount, jumping the Summer series at Spruce Meadows before venturing to Europe for the second half of the summer. While at Spruce, Beezie and Simon won the 2012 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup with a triple clean score after only seven months together. Flying over to Europe following this excellent win would prove wise as the pair finished second place to Hans-Dieter Dreher and Magnus Romeo in the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Chantilly that same month.
After a sixth place finish in the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Valkenswaard, the notable combination took the return flight home to compete at the 2012 Spruce Meadows Masters Tournament. It was there that they earned second place in the 2012 CN International Grand Prix, next to Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts. Finally, at the nine month mark, Beezie felt that this union between herself and Simon was finally becoming a partnership.
“We’re beginning to feel more like a partnership,” said Beezie Madden, her nine-month pairing with 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Simon having only a half-hour earlier paid off, and rather handsomely at that, in a second-place placing at Sunday’s $1 million CN International Grand Prix. “In July it felt like it was coming together and I think it’s just continued. From here he went to Chantilly and he was second in the Global Champions Tour and the only other show he did before here was Valkenswaard and he was sixth in that grand prix with two clear rounds.”
“So, yeah, he’s really becoming a partner” said Beezie to the Calgary Herald. “It’s gone well mostly all the way. But now it’s getting to be more of a partnership. That’s normal. He was a horse that was already farther along in his career and it takes some time at this level to have a real partnership, where you say ‘Oh, I have a real chance to win.’”
So after nine whole months of hard work, Beezie’s patience had paid off with a summer of solid results. If only she knew what the following year would bring.
After enjoying yet another successful winter in Wellington, where both Beezie and Simon were contributing members of the winning Nations Cup team for the first Furusiyya Nations Cup event to be held in the US. Competing alongside a terrific American team for the 2013 Furusiyya Nations Cup event, held at the FTI Consulting WEF circuit, Beezie and Simon contributed a clear first round score for the winning hosting Nation.
But all the excitement and glory of the dynamic duo would be awaiting them in Sweden for the 2012/13 FEI Rolex World Cup Finals. First the competitive combination won the Speed portion of the Finals, jumping with an excellent time of 62.28 seconds, beating fast combination such as Pius Schwizer and Verdi III, Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and the wonderful Casall as well as Sergio Alvarez Moya and Carlo 273. Excitement for the well represented USA was rising as the weekend began with a win for the red, white and blue.
But the pinnacle of this combination’s two year union was awaiting them on Sunday for Beezie Madden and Simon became the 9th American combination to win the FEI Rolex World Cup Finals. Beezie and Simon’s win would finally bring the USA on par with Germany for total number of wins of the FEI Rolex World Cup Final titles since its inception in 1978. Thanks to the extraordinary performance of both Beezie Madden and Simon, Team USA can now be proud to stand as one of the two strongest performing countries in the history of the FEI World Cup Finals. A true example of horsemanship and equine athleticism, Simon and Beezie earned this season’s World Cup Final title after a mere 12 faults over three days of competition, offering Beezie her first World Cup Final title of her career. Jeroen Dubbeldam had flown to Gothenburg, as he had a strong inclination that Simon would earn a win for Beezie. We spoke the morning of the Sunday final and he told me that he felt strongly that Beezie and Simon would be the winning combination.
Speaking after the exciting and emotional prize giving, Jeroen shared his feelings about being able to watch his previous mount write himself into World Cup history. “It’s what I came here for, to either see Simon win or of course Marc. I was proud as well. He is one of the best horses in the world. If you jump a few days in a row, he’s always the best because he never gives up. He could jump two more days and he’d still be fit. That I know, and that’s why I knew he had a good chance. If he was going to win, I wanted to be here.”
“It’s always been a dream of mine to win the World Cup — I can’t believe I did it,” said Beezie during the Final Press Conference in Gothenburg. Now this combination as written themselves into the history books after an excellent performance in Gothenburg, and to think the season has only just begun. We shall keep an eye on this amazing combination, because at 14 years old, it is clear that Simon has many more winning rounds to deliver.
Q&A with Beezie..
How did you come to learn of Simon? When did you see him with Jeroen, that made you consider him as a horse for yourself?
“John and I have admired Simon for quite a while. We talked to Jeroen about him in 2010, the year he won the CN International. He is the type of horse we like, one with a good amount of blood – a lighter warmblood. In the fall of 2011, Jeroen knew we were looking for a top horse and his owners were interested in selling, so he reached out to us then. We thought he would be just the type that would fit into our program and luckily, Abigail Wexner agreed.”
How has your partnership developed since you joined together in 2011?
“I think it went smoothly from the start. We won our first grand prix together in Wellington at the beginning of the 2012 season. We then had one bad round in the selection trials for the Olympic games, which made it difficult to make the team. Since then he’s had a very good record in all the major grand prix events he’s gone in, including winning the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Spruce Meadows.”
What is his personality like?
“Simon is an intelligent horse. He likes people, unless you’re tightening his girth. He seems to like the competition.”
How is he to work with? Any special aspects of his personality that you have to take into consideration when working with him?
“It has taken us a little experimentation to figure out a bit that he likes. He can get a little strong sometimes in the ring, but we seem to have found something that works for both of us. Other than that, he makes my job easy because he’s so careful and has a lot of blood to make it through a championship.”
Best result last year?
“Our best result in 2012 was probably winning the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Spruce Meadows. Returning to Spruce Meadows in September and coming in 2nd at the Masters CN International and coming in 2nd in GCT Chantilly were both also thrilling.”
Any great story of you two that would epitomize your relationship?
“Winning the FEI Rolex World Cup!”
Ridden for: United States of America
Jockey: Beezie Madden
Owned by: Abigail Wexner
Breeding: KWPN – Koninklijk Warmbloed Paardenstamboek Nederland
Bred by: M J. Vermeulen
Famous Sire: Mr. Blue
Age: 14 years old
Last year: won Spruce Meadows ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup
Biggest moment this year: winning the 2012/13 FEI Rolex World Cup Finals
Recent win: the 2013 Furusiyya Nations Cup event with Team USA in Wellington, FL
Currently WBFSH ranked: 12th in the world
Personality: “He never gives up” (Jeroen Dubbeldam)