THE DUTCH MASTERS SET TO MAKE A SENSATIONAL DEBUT AS PART OF THE ROLEX GRAND SLAM OF SHOW JUMPING
Wednesday 07 March 2018
The world’s top riders will converge in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, from 08 – 11 March for The Dutch Masters, the newest addition to the world’s ultimate prize in showjumping – the Rolex Grand Slam.
Eight of the world’s top 10 riders are expected to contest the highly anticipated Rolex Grand Prix, the first Major of 2018, as they seek to kick-off the year in style and be in with a chance of winning the most sought-after prize in the sport; the Rolex Grand Slam of ShowJumping. A prize of €1 million, on top of the prize money from each of the four shows, is on offer to any rider who wins three of the four Majors consecutively, with a further €1 million prize if that same rider continues their victory by winning a fourth Major in succession.
Anky van Grunsven, President of The Dutch Masters, “We are thrilled to become part of the prestigious Rolex Grand Slam alongside CHIO Aachen, the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ and CHI Geneva – it is a real honour and we are looking forward to an exciting Grand Prix on Sunday.”
World number two ranked rider, Harrie Smolders, “What a great opportunity to have the chance to compete for one of the Majors in my own country. I am delighted that The Dutch Masters has become part of the Rolex Grand Slam and will be giving it everything I have got to try and win it.”
Founded over 50 years ago, The Dutch Masters, previously known as Indoor Brabant, has long been a highlight of the global equestrian calendar. However, the announcement in 2017 that the show would become the fourth Major within the coveted Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping has elevated its status to one of the most prestigious events of the year, alongside CHIO Aachen, the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ and CHI Geneva.
Over 60,000 spectators are expected to attend across the four days of competition, which also features FEI World CupTM Dressage as well as the CSI5* Showjumping, the pinnacle of which is the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday 11 March.
GRAND SLAM CHALLENGER
Sadly, American rider Kent Farrington was forced to officially withdraw from The Dutch Masters due to injury. Farrington won the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva last year and with this victory he started his challenge for the Rolex Grand Slam. Unfortunately, his chance to win the Rolex Grand Slam title is now gone for now.
Local riders, Harrie Smolders and Maikel van der Vleuten, currently ranked second and eleventh in the world respectively, will be looking to give the home crowd something to cheer about, following in the footsteps of compatriot Leopold van Asten, winner of the Rolex Grand Prix in 2017.
A strong contingent of Rolex Testimonees will be attempting to emulate the achievement of fellow Testimonee Scott Brash, who remains the only rider so far to have won the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping, following his emphatic victories in 2015. Kevin Staut (FRA), a winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters in 2014, heads the challenge, with Canada’s Eric Lamaze, currently ranked world No. 12, making the trip from his winter base in Florida, USA for the competition. World No. 8 Steve Guerdat (SUI) will be making his 16th appearance in a Major, the only rider to have competed in all Majors since they began in 2013, with Britain’s Scott Brash also competing as he seeks to repeat his remarkable Rolex Grand Slam feat.
Reigning European Champion and Olympic silver medalist Peder Fredricson (SWE), world No. 7 Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) and the in-form Henrik Von Eckermann, fresh from victory in FEI World CupTM Qualifier in Gothenburg, will add to the stellar line-up of riders taking part.