Marc Houtzager victorious in Grand Prix of Rotterdam

We close off the 75th CHIO Rotterdam with another win for Dutch: Marc Houtzager was untouchable in the jump-off of the Grand Prix of Rotterdam this Sunday afternoon. With 36.07 seconds, he stayed just ahead of Germany's Christian Kukuk, who set a time of 36.55 seconds. Harrie Smolders completed the podium with 37.42 seconds.

In an nail biter of a jump-off, a many as 15 combinations vied for the title in the Grand Prix of Rotterdam, a 1.60m-competition. Of those combinations, five respresented The Netherlands. Harrie Smolders was the seventh rider to appear in the arena Uricas v/d Kattevennen. Much to the delight of the home crowd, he set a lighting quick time to take over the lead from the American Laura Kraut. Unfortunately, he couldn't enjoy it for long, because Houtzager was next up with Sterrehof’s Dante and managed to better Smolders' time with more than a second.

The combinations after Houtzager proved unable to beat Houtzager's time. Germany's Christian Kukuk came awfully close to spoiling the home crowd's party, but he was half a second too slow to claim the victory as his own. He had to settle for second place, pushing Harrie Smolders into third.

Houtzager already won the title in Rotterdam in 2012. He was thrilled with this victory. "Twelve years ago I won here, a long time ago. Unbelievable I managed to do it again. My ride went according to how I planned it, but I didn't expect this. When I crossed the finish line and looked up at the screen I couldn't believe I beat Harrie's time. I knew this was the best I could do so I wouldn't have been content with a lower place as well. The rest of the field are a bit younger than me, and the competition is strong. But we won today, fantastic. It's also really special considering Dante's age. She's 16 years old no and we are careful to plan the right shows to compete with her. I hope we are able to keep her fit for a couple more years. But she did great here."

German rider Christian Kukuk praised his horse Just Be Gentle's performance in the arena today. "She's an outstanding horse, she's something very special. We had a really good start in the jump-off but we just had too strides to many heading towards the oxer in the middle. If our jump-off had been perfect we might have had a chance to beat Marc's time, but it was not meant to be like that today. In any case, I'm very pleased with my horse and our performance here. I'm very happy with this second prize."

Harrie Smolders: "The jump-off did not quite go according to plan. We lost some focus and then I went a bit far out in the corner, and that cost me an extra stride. But, even if I did have the perfect jump-off here, I still wouldn't have been able to beat Marc. My horse jumped well all week here, the form is there. I'm happy with how we performed here today."


Source: Official website
Picture: Nils Boeser