McLain Ward closed the Dutch Masters 2023 with his second consecutive victory in the Rolex Grand Prix! With the already seventeen-year-old mare, he set the time to beat halfway through the jump-off and was not bettered anymore. With this second Rolex Grand Prix victory in a row, a fat bonus is waiting for the American.
With Lars Kersten as the last clear combination, the basic round was over. Sixteen riders were allowed to keep their horses warm for the jump-off in this Rolex Grand Slam.
Henrik von Eckermann bit the bullet. On his trusty King Edward Ress (by Edward), he immediately set the bar high by completing a flawless course. The duo set the time to beat at 38.52. Then came Julien Epaillard, who earlier in the day had already won the 5*. With Donatello d'Auge (by Jarnac), he too went clear and immediately improved the time to 38.06.
Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei (by Baltic VDL) clearly intended to do even better but finished in 38.79. Following him, McLain Ward entered the arena on HH Azur (by Thunder van de Zuuthoeve) and put himself in the lead with a time of 37.86. Afterwards, there was a time penalty for Gerrit Nieberg on Blues d'Aeveline CH (by Baloussini).
Willem Greve and Grandorado TN (by Eldorado van de Zeshoek) could not continue their top form from the first round and were charged twelve penalties. Then followed Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmerman on Messi van 't Ruytershof (by Plot Blue). They too finished with four penalty points. Steve Guerdat held Dynamix de Belheme (by Grafton) clear in 38.53.
Halfway through, we saw five combinations go clear so far. Marc Houtzager and Holy Moley (by Verdi TN) took a little less risk throughout the course but pressed the gas pedal towards the last oxer and came clear over the finish line.
Then followed Harry Charles with Balou du Reventon (by Cornet Obolensky), the duo was charged eight penalty points. Joseph Stockdale too didn't go clear with Equine America Cacharel (by Cachas). For Peder Fredricson and Catch me Not S (by Cardento), all the jumps stayed untouched.
McLain Ward's time wasn't easy to improve as Kevin Staut also failed to beat the sharp time with Scuderia 1918 Viking d'La Rousserie (by Quaprice Bois Margot). Simon Delestre, on the other hand, gave everything and it seemed to go well until the last oxer. Cayman Jolly Jumper (by Hickstead) tapped the front bar, leaving the duo with four penalties. But their time of 37.77 was faster.
Second to last was Marcus Ehning with Priam du Roset (by Plot Blue). They finished with eight penalty points. Finally, all eyes were on Lars Kersten. For his own audience he was in the saddle of Hallilea (by VDL Zirocco Blue). Their first intermediate time was faster than McLain Ward's but in the end they finished clear in 39.01.
Thus the win went to McLain Ward. Julien Epaillard followed with silver, Henrik von Eckermann closed the podium with bronze.
- McLain Ward - HH Azur (v. Thunder van de Zuuthoeve)
- Julien Epaillard - Donatello d'Auge (v. Jarnac)
- Henrik von Eckermann - King Edward Ress (v. Edward)
- Steve Guerdat - Dynamix de Belheme (v. Grafton)
- Martin Fuchs - Leone Jei (v. Baltic VDL)