Leopold van Asten riding VDL Groep Zidane N.O.P. wins Rolex Grand Prix

12 March 2017, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands – In one of the most dramatic Grand Prix in Indoor Brabant’s long history, Leopold van Asten riding VDL Groep Zidane N.O.P. won the Rolex Grand Prix.

Established in 1967, and celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, this leading show has a long history of attracting the very best riders, and with 12 of the World’s Top 20 taking part, 2017 proved to be a sporting classic which resulted in Dutch riders also taking second and third place.
The top Grand Prix in the world demand the very highest levels of skill and precision from the riders, and course designer Louis Konickx laid out a technical and challenging first round course which many found difficult to master. Despite the support of the passionate crowd willing each rider to go clear, it was not until the 24th horse and rider combination to enter the ring, home favourite Wout-Jan van der Schans riding Capetown, that they could cheer a faultless round.

Above: Leopold van Asten on his way to victory. Image: Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping/Kit Houghton

From the 40 starters, just seven made it through to the thrilling jump-off and it was clear from the cheers as the domestic riders entered the arena who the home crowd was supporting.

First to go was van der Schans. The crowd hushed for the 40.51 seconds that he took to jump his second round of the competition, but that quickly changed to cheers when he went clear. He was followed by Lorenzo de Luca and Bertram Allen, both of whom had poles down. Next into the ring was favourite, Marc Houtzager, who matched van der Schans’ faultless round, but could not match his time. Van Asten followed him and was the first to go clear in a time under 40 seconds, and when the final rider had a pole down and a refusal, the Dutch rider and his home crowd could celebrate the famous victory.

Speaking after his victory, Leopold van Asten said, “It was a tough course, technical, big but it had everything in it. I changed my plan after walking the course, and my horse jumped really well. I could tell in the warm-up that he was in good shape and the first round went great. You have nothing to lose in a jump-off with seven riders, and it went well from the beginning, and I took a risk on the last and jumped it great, and that made me win today.”

Click here to go to watch a video of the winning round

Above: Leopold van Asten and VDL Groep Zidane N.O.P. after their win at the weekend.

It was also announced over the weekend that in 2018 the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping will welcome Indoor Brabant as the fourth Major in equestrian sport. This means that the show will join CHIO Aachen (Germany), CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ (Canada) and CHI Geneva (Switzerland) in the ranks of long-standing traditional Major shows.

Any rider who replicates Scott Brash’s phenomenal achievement in 2015, will win the Rolex Grand Slam and a bonus of €1 million. If that same rider then continues their success by winning a fourth Major in succession, they will be rewarded with an additional €1 million bonus. The bonus is on top of the prize money that they win at each event.

“We couldn’t wish for a better partner,” said an enthused Linda Southern-Heathcott, President of the Steering Committee of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. “What has always united all the Majors is the passion for the sport, the love for horses and a long tradition of the highest standard. Therefore, Indoor Brabant is a perfect addition to the Rolex Grand Slam; it offers an outstanding infrastructure, has had a long history and attracts the best riders in the world every year.”

The addition of a fourth Major to the Rolex Grand Slam will bring an exciting new dimension for the world’s elite showjumpers. Any rider who replicates Scott Brash’s phenomenal achievement in 2015, will win the Rolex Grand Slam and a bonus of €1 million. If that same rider then continues their success by winning a fourth Major in succession, they will be rewarded with an additional €1 million bonus. The bonus is on top of the prize money that they win at each event.

Above – from left to right: Linda Southern-Heathcott, President of the Steering Committee of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Scott Brash, first rider ever to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Anky van Grunsven, President of Indoor Brabant, Marcel Hunze, Event Director of Indoor Brabant, and the reigning double World and European Champion Jeroen Dubbeldam at the official announcement at Indoor Brabant 2017. Image: Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping/Kit Houghton

Regardless of the calendar year, the cycle begins for each rider with their first Major victory. A bonus of €500,000 is also available to any rider who wins two successive Grands Prix in any order. Additionally, a rider who wins two Grands Prix in a period of four successive Majors, will receive a bonus of €250,000.

Anky van Grunsven, President of Indoor Brabant said, “Rolex has already done so much for our sport and our long-term partnership with the brand is a privilege on its own. However, to now become part of the Rolex Grand Slam, announced in the 50th anniversary year of Indoor Brabant, is a very special gift for us, the show organizers.”

Jeroen Dubbeldam, the reigning double World and European Champion added. “The two best outdoor and the two best indoor shows in the world are now combined with each other, and will allow the riders to prepare our horses strategically for the Rolex Grand Slam campaign.  Naturally, coming from The Netherlands, I am also delighted that Indoor Brabant has become one of the Majors and look forward to competing for the Grand Slam title in my own country next year.”

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