Ph. ©Tiffany Van Halle
The Dutch Masters was the buzz of the international show calendar this past weekend with the inaugural fourth leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping debuting under the lights of the Brabanthallen Complex.
Founded in 1966, Holland’s largest indoor event has hosted two World Cup Finals in 1994 and 2012 and now, a successful first edition of a Rolex Grand Slam Major.
“This show was already one of the best indoor shows in the world but this year in particular, the progress has been incredible,” Dutch Olympic champion Jeroen Dubbeldam shared with The Dutch Masters. “It is the first time here for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping which is something new and special, it brings something extra to the show for us.”
“The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping consisted of three of the best shows in the world, so we are very honored to be chosen as the fourth.”
As the newest addition to the world’s ultimate prize in show jumping, organizers upped the ante by commissioning venue improvements to bring the experience of showing at The Dutch Masters on par to that of the other three majors in the series: CHIO Aachen, the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ and CHI Geneva.
“The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping consisted of three of the best shows in the world, so we are very honored to be chosen as the fourth,” Marcel Hunze, The Dutch Masters’ Show Director commented.
“We needed more space because the event is growing, and we wanted to enhance the facilities for the riders and spectators,” he continued, speaking on the changes made to the historic venue in preparation for March’s show dates.
“We are lucky that we could build the new hall and add to the overall area by 7,500 square meters. As a result, we increased the arena size and include more exercise areas. We have improved the riders’ onsite accommodation, food, and facilities to give them a VIP experience. They are our heroes, so we need to treat them very well. We have also improved the arena experience adding LED animated boards, and enhanced the lighting and music to create more excitement and improve the spectator experience.”
It was a hit. Modifications included, the spectators who flocked to ‘s-Hertogenbosch were also treated to a four-day exhibition of world-class show jumping and dressage competition.
Highlights—an FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix and qualifier victory in the Dressage Freestyle by World No. 1 Isabell Werth of Germany both with the 12-year-old Westphalian gelding Emilio 107 (Ehrenpreis x Cacir Aa).
On the show jumping side of the 2018 program, hometown hero Harrie Smolders was honored as the 2017 Rider of the Year in an official ceremony in front of an affectionate home crowd.
More thrilling action ensued with the annual crowd favorite 1.45m Van Schijndel Bouwgroep Prize Indoor Derby where Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano scored his second consecutive victory with the 9-year-old OS mare Carlotta 232 (Chaccomo x Cento).
Sunday’s highly anticipated finale, the Rolex Grand Prix, did not disappoint. Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels used his skill and the speed of 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare Gancia de Muze (Malito de Reve x Nimmerdor) to write his name down in the history books as the winner of the first installment of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping at The Dutch Masters.
To the equestrians that are just learning about this exceptional five-star, we have two key takeaways from the weekend for you:
- Believe the hype
- Mark your calendar for 2019
- Rider of the Week: Niels Bruynseels [Noelle Floyd.com]