Inside The Dutch Masters: Friday 8 March Maikel Van der Vleuten won the main class

The Dutch Masters Remco Veurink Maikel van der Vleuten

Dutch Delight in the VDL Groep Prize

Friday marked the first day of international show jumping at this year’s edition of The Dutch Masters with the pinnacle class coming from the VDL Groep Prize won by Maikel Van der Vleuten. Held under the bright lights of the Brabanthallen, the world’s best horse and rider combinations gathered to take on Louis Konickx’s technically designed 1.55m course.

Fittingly, the first of the 42 riders to enter the arena was the long-standing World No.1 Henrik von Eckermann with his sensational gelding King Edward. The pair who are the reigning FEI World Champions could not quite produce the round that they wanted when collecting four faults.

Rolex Testimonee and third into the arena, Bertram Allen, was the first rider to produce a clear round and set the standard for those to follow. This was quickly followed, much to the delight of the home crowd, by Dutch rider Frank Schuttert, who ensured that there would be a jump-off. Clears came throughout the talented field, including FEI European Champions Steve Guerdat and Dynamix de Belheme, as well as fellow Rolex Testimonee, Daniel Deusser – a three-time winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at the venue – who once again showed himself to be a true expert of the main arena at this prestigious show with a stylish clear round.

In total 11 riders proceeded through to the jump-off, a list that included the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender Richard Vogel and the two Rolex Young Rider Academy riders Robert Murphy and Lars Kersten.

After a short break, riders entered the arena in reverse order of merit, based on their time from the first round, with the quickest clear round having the advantage of being the last to go. First into the arena, Deusser set the early pace with a clear in a time of 44.73 seconds, but it wasn’t to be for the German rider, as Guerdat produced a smooth and nimble round to come home 2.08 seconds faster. The crowds then came alive just one horse later as Maikel van der Vleuten took 0.61 seconds of the Swiss rider’s time. None of the remaining riders could match the precision, skill, and accuracy showed by van der Vleuten, leaving the Dutchman to claim the 2024 VDL Groep Prize.

Speaking on his win van der Vleuten remarked: “My horse [Beauville Z N.O.P.] was incredible today – it was his first show in two and a half months so I am very pleased with this result. He jumped a lot better in the jump-off which meant I could get all of the forward strides which enabled me to beat Steve’s [Guerdat] time. We will see how he feels in the next few days but the plan is to jump him in the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday.”

The home favourite added: “The world’s best riders in the world are here not only to compete but to win. As a Dutch rider this show is so special to me and the crowds here are amazing. They were a fantastic support for me this evening, so to win in front of them is truly incredible.”

Photo: The Dutch Masters / Remco Veurink | Press release Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping

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