Confident Dutch victory on home ground in Rotterdam

The host nation threw down a definitive victory on home turf today when scooping the main honours with a zero scoreline in the third leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2022 Europe Division 1 series in Rotterdam (NED).

As winners at the Longines Final 2021 in Barcelona (ESP), and following exactly the same result at their home venue 12 months ago, they went into battle with a weight of expectation. And they lived up to it with such conviction that they look a real force to be reckoned with over the coming months, especially with the FEI Jumping World Championships 2022 in Denmark just around the corner.

A clear first round from pathfinders Maikel van der Vleuten and his Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze-medal-winning ride Beauville Z was followed by a similarly foot-perfect run from Sanne Thijssen with the busy but brilliant Con Quidam RB. So when Willem Greve followed that with another clear from his big stallion Grandorado TN who seemed to just stroll around the 12-fence course set by Dutchmen Quintin Maertens and Louis Konickx, then Jos Lansink’s team already had their noses out in front. 

Anchorman Harrie Smolders’ tour of the track with Monaco was only academic despite leaving the first element of the final double on the floor as only the best three scores from each team were counted. However they would be the ones to clinch it in the second round.

Quite a challenge

In a “game of two halves” in which the course seemed relatively straight-forward in round one but quite a challenge second time out there were seven double-clears.

France, Sweden, Ireland and Germany were only a fence off the leaders as the second round began and despite the withdrawal of Roger Yves Bost’s Cassius Clay VDV Z the French held on for runner-up spot, although only the clock separated them from the Irish in third when both sides finished with just eight faults. 

Foot-perfect performances from pathfinder Daniel Coyle with the lovely mare Legacy and anchorman Shane Sweetnam with the very exciting nine-year-old gelding James Kann Cruz meant only one of the four-fault results from Denis Lynch (Brooklyn Heights) and Trevor Breen (Highland President) had to be counted by the Irish, so this put the pressure on the rest going into the final stages. 

But with a second sensational clear run from the electric little Cayman Jolly Jumper, Simon Delestre kept Team France in the frame. And when Kevin Staut and Scuderia 1918 Viking d’La Rousserie followed suit they only had to count a single error from Gregory Cottard and Bibici, and their joint team time 204.02 seconds squeezed the Irish down to third by just over two seconds.

There was no denying the winners however. Thijssen’s Con Quidam RB faulted at the water and clipped the planks at fence 10 - which proved very influential second time out - for an eight-fault tally but it didn’t matter. Van der Vleuten had set the tone with his second clear of the day, Greve’s Grandorado once again made it all look like a walk-in-the-park and, typically reliable under pressure, Smolders sealed it with the coolest of clears.  

A good start

“Both rounds we had a very good start which is important because it gives the right motivation, and also knowing that one of the other three riders can maybe have a bit of a less good result. But everyone had a super first round, and then had a good second round as well, Sanne’s second round was a bit more hectic than the first but we could finish the job well with our last two riders and it was fantastic!”, van der Vleuten pointed out. 

Talking about the course he said, “the first round jumped well for most riders and then they made a few jumps a little bigger for the second round. On the last line there was a strong triple bar (fence 9), a very short distance to the planks (fence 10) - and they made that a hole bigger - the oxer (fence 11) after was quite strong and then a big combination (double of vertical to oxer at fence 12)”.

He confirmed the confidence with which his side went to work.

"We had four good riders with good horses and we knew that, we also rode very focused and from my point of view it was another good test. This is my first Nations Cup since Tokyo, so it was good to see how the situation is for the moment and also looking ahead to Herning"

Maikel van der Vleuten (NED)

On everyone’s mind

The World Championships at Herning in Denmark in August are on everyone’s minds right now. “Yes, this gives us a good motivation, but it’s still five weeks to go - the team isn’t decided yet”, van der Vleuten said. “But I think all of us know what our situation is at the moment and we have to try to keep this shape and don’t do too many big shows over the next while, that’s my feeling, just keep the minds of the horses a bit fresh”. 

Willem Greve picked up a groin injury in Rome four weeks ago and wasn’t sure he could recover in time so he was really pleased with how things worked out today. “I want to thank my team who took care of my horses at home so I could focus on getting back in shape to ride here in Rotterdam!”, he said.

And Smolders was also delighted with how things played out this afternoon. “We have seen fantastic sport again today and a great outcome for the Dutch team. The atmosphere was amazing and it was a really nice course. I have to thank my colleagues who were all clear in the first round, it was a privilege to be in that position with such a great horse. Finishing the job in such a manner is an amazing feeling. I missed this show last year as I had an injury two weeks beforehand so it feels really great to be back!”, he said.


For Jos Lansink today was also extra-special. “I won the Nations Cup here as a rider but it is my first win as Chef d’Equipe. I’m grateful to my team and really happy with the result today. The atmosphere was amazing and winning in front of your home crowd is always special!” he said. 

As he pointed out, this was a significant afternoon for the Dutch team. “It’s still a long way to Herning, but we are on the right track!”, he added.

Next stop in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2022 Europe Division 1 series is Falsterbo, Sweden on Friday 15 July. Team Germany hold the lead going into this fourth of six qualifying legs, and today’s result has boosted The Netherlands to second on the standings ahead of Switzerland in third, France in fourth and Ireland in fifth place. Just seven of the 10 competing nations in Europe Division 1 will qualify for the Longines Final in Barcelona (ESP) which will take place from 29 September to 2 October 2022.


Image: Kevin Staut of France on Scuderia 1918 Viking d’La Rousserie. (Copyright ©FEI/Shannon Brinkman).