Marc van Dijck: "You don't need a lot of show in the warm-up, it's in the ring where they have to show their greatness"

Marc van Dijck: "You don't need a lot of show in the warm-up, it's in the ring where they have to show their greatness"

The most impressive victory of last weekend was undoubtedly that of Gilles Thomas and Luna van het Dennenhof during the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix in Shanghai. Luna was bred in a collaboration between Marc Van Dijck and Patrick De Muynck. It's time to hear from Marc about this exceptional mare.

Regarding the victory in Shanghai and Luna's mindset:

Marc: "I wasn't present in Shanghai myself, but of course, I followed everything on TV. It was incredibly exciting; Gilles and Luna had to go in first, and usually, that's not an advantage, of course. But Gilles rode her flawlessly and actually set a very good time in the jump-off. The pressure on the other combinations was immediately high; they had to take risks and thus made mistakes. Usually, starting first is a disadvantage, but this time it was clearly an advantage.

We didn't go there immediately with the expectation to win, but with Luna, you know 8 times out of 10 she jumps flawlessly. When you have a mare with such a fighting mentality who always wants to stay clear, then you know you have a chance. She almost always jumps clear. And as a rider, you don't have to think about poles; you just need to set her in the right tempo correctly for the jump, and she won't knock anything down. All credit, of course, to Gilles; they are really a very good combination. Gilles has been riding her since she was 6."

"It's in the ring where they have to show their greatness"

Luna is a mare who always wants to do her best; she is sharp and careful, and she really has the right mindset. She jumped well at the 1m35 and 1m40 level as a 7-8-year-old. But whether she had the ultimate ability was not immediately clear at that time. But over time, it is mainly her top mindset that has become clear, and with that mindset, she jumps those high courses. One that jumps with a lot of show in the paddock, you don't need that. It's in the ring where they have to show their greatness. Luna is a real fighter whether it's 1m40 or 1m60; the feeling is the same."

About the combination of elite sport and breeding:

"You see it: Luna was flushed from Valencia on the day of the Belgian Championship, so it's possible. We also breed with Luna now, we always do that via embryo transfer. For example, she has about four weeks off now, and then I try to flush an embryo from her. I think not overdoing it is the secret formula to combine sport with breeding. I try to flush only about twice a year. We inseminate and then flush at 8 days. We particularly avoid making her hormonal; that's important; we try to disturb her cycle as little as possible. We do everything as naturally as possible, and then the mares don't suffer much. We consciously don't participate in ICSI; that has a much greater impact on the mares."

"Riders need good breeders and owners, and vice versa"


"I would like to thank Patrick. He is a super reliable owner, and I am very grateful that he is behind us together. We continue to breed together, and you can just tell that he is a true enthusiast. Riders need good breeders and owners, and vice versa. We need each other."