Harrie Smolders awarded as 'Rider of the Year 2023'

Harrie Smolders awarded as 'Rider of the Year 2023'

Harrie Smolders from Lage Mierde has been elected Rider of the Year 2023 by the committee consisting of Anky van Grunsven (chairman), Ed van den Bent, Andries van den Berg, and Henk Rottinghuis. Earlier, he was also named Rider of the Year in 2017 and 2018. With this third election, he follows in the footsteps of illustrious show jumpers such as Jos Lansink and Gerco Schröder, who previously won this honorary title three times. Decisive was his victory in the Global Champions Tour, which raised his year's winnings above €1,500,000. A formidable amount, earned with his top horses Monaco N.O.P. and Uricas van de Kattevennen.

Honorable mentions and nominations

The Committee awarded two honorable mentions and three nominations. The honorable mentions went to the Four-in-Hand Team (Bram and IJsbrand Chardon, Koos de Ronde, and Hans Heus) and the Para Dressage Team (Frank Hosmar, Demi Haerkens, Sanne Voets, and Lotte Krijnsen).

The three nominations were (in alphabetical order) awarded to:

• Show jumper Harrie Smolders, who earned his nomination through an extremely successful performance in the top segment of international show jumping. The Committee has been noting the top 3 rankings for many years, which earned Harrie a fantastic year's winnings of over €1,000,325. The final tally for 2023, including other rankings, amounts to over 1.5 million euros. With his top earner Monaco N.O.P., he finished second in the Grand Prix of Paris and third in the World Cup Final in Omaha. In the Global Champions Tour (GCT), he finished second in the Grand Prix of Monaco and third in the Grand Prix of London. With Uricas van de Kattevennen, he won the Grand Prix of Sankt Gallen and in the GCT, the Grand Prix of Riesenbeck. With this horse, he won bronze at the Dutch Championships. All's well that ends well, as his performances in the GCT tour were good enough for first place in the final standings, earning him a handsome sum of €294,500. On the FEI Jumping Ranking, Harrie was ranked eleventh on December 31, 2023. He is thus the highest-ranked Dutch rider.

Four-in-hand driver Bram Chardon, who won two gold medals at the European Championships in Exloo, individually and with the team, and excelled in the World Cup (WC) with a second place in the 2022/2023 Final in Bordeaux. In the 2023/2024 season, he won the WC competitions in Stockholm and Geneva in 2023 and finished second in Mechelen.

Trotting driver Rick Ebbinge, who became Rider of the Year for the first time in 2019 because he became World Champion Trotting Drivers. He defended his WC title in 2023 and did so successfully. He won the Prix des Gigantes in Wolvega, the most important international race in our country, with Zeudi AMG. In Sweden, he won the most important classic for two-year-old trotters with L'Amour Pour Blanca, the Group 1 trotting race Svensk Uppfödningslöpning, at the Jägersro racecourse in Malmö.

Committee's Choice

The performances of Bram Chardon, however good and professional, did not weigh up to the Committee's judgment against his two co-nominees, who face much more international competition. Rick Ebbinge impressed with his second consecutive world title, but ultimately had to concede to Harrie Smolders, who achieved a result in the highly competitive international show jumping scene that was long considered impossible for Dutch riders.

The award ceremony will take place on Friday, March 8th in the main arena.

Source: KNHS