The Rolex Grand Prix in Spruce Meadows was held on Sunday evening in Canada. Daniel Dewser and Killer Quinn VDM were the only ones who stayed clear on both the run and jump. They won the first prize of 1 million Canadian dollars (over 760 thousand euros) and a bonus of 250 thousand euros. Last year’s winners Steve Gordat and Vinard de Serisi were second, while Belgian rider Gilles Thomas finished third with Aretino. Harry Smulders and his seasoned Spruce Meadows veteran Dare Low finished eighth in the traditional battle of attrition on Canadian turf.
After two very difficult rounds, a three-person jump had to participate to split the podium places. Steve Guerdat opened the ball with Venard de Cerisy and led down one bar on the set. The Swiss was fast with 41.70 seconds. Jill Thomas entered his jump with Aretino a bit calm, after the duo barely survived the second round. Eventually luck stopped and Thomas had to pay a touch. The last crossbar was also knocked out and Thomas finished 8 on penalties in 42.31 seconds. Last start was Daniel Deuser with Killer Queen VDM. The clear run was the key to the German group’s victory, but one bar and one time would be a problem against the fast Guerdat. Deucer’s gamble paid off. Three seconds slower than the Swiss, but clear and another Rolex GP for the German, after Aachen 2021 and Den Bosch 2022. Next: “I set my goal to start here, she loves the big lawns and she’s never been here. He’s an incredible horse. I have to think What happened here today.”
Prepare the competition
I entered 41 groups in the Rolex Grand Prix Spruce Meadows, which is always built at 1.60 (approximately 1.70). After the first round, the top twelve are allowed to go to the second round on Canadian turf. If there is still a tie at the top of the rankings, there will be a jump in first place. The penalties are carried over from the first round and the time from round 1 affects the starting order in the second round, which is not carried out on time. The course is thick and so is the prize pool. The competition rink, on the grass, has a difference in elevation and is located at an altitude of about 1,100 meters above sea level. Back-to-back winners from Aachen, Dean Bosch and Geneva stand a chance to win a Grand Slam in Canada.
The obstacles in Spruce Meadows come from all over the world. The Canadian competition combines championship hurdles in a variety of colors and shapes. This year, hurdles have been laid out from Beijing and Tokyo. In the first round, the executioners were the four-meter wide open water with the triple jump (sharp – sharp – blistering) over seven jumps behind. The ‘Swedish combination’ was also very tricky, with two rainbow obstacles (sharp – bull) that many were riding into the corner.
It took up to 21 starting player Gil Thomas of Belgium before a clear first round could be celebrated. With the Aretino 13 (by Artani 2), the young rider showed a great first round. Round two was for veteran duo McLain Ward and HH Azur (by Thunder vd Zuuthoeve). The mare seemed to stop a bit at the third fence, but then it was a perfect run. Enough forward over the water and seemed to be easy through the difficult triple junction that followed. Steve Gordat and Vinard de Cerici (via Open Up Semilly) were the third purest players, although for a moment it seemed like the French didn’t feel like going at the last hurdle. His Swiss rider was fast enough, however, to send the brown rider over the Rolex rail and across the finish line with a very satisfied face. Guerdat won the competition last year with an opponent who is now thirteen years old.
Harry Smulders Was Bored by Dare Lou (by Thunder vd Zuuthoeve). This is a sacred ground for chestnut stallions not too large. Dare Low won the prestigious Grand Prix in 2019 with Beezie Madden. Then the horse was sold and Nile Nasser started in Canada in 2021, but not at the Grand Prix. Smolders climbed onto the KWPN saddle in February, and now they’ve gained so much confidence with Darry Lou that they’re daring to take on the biggest competition. The fact that Harry drove Dari to the big rink in Canada was a great moment for many jumping fans. The round was straightforward, although there was a one-time bug in the scoreboard at the end.
Peder Frederickson nearly fell from H&M All In (by Kashmir van Schuttershof) after the horse went early for B and almost left it on the next bull. But he found his stirrups and handlebars, put his hat back in the middle of the road, and finished eighth in the standings with four fast riders. His countryman is also a world champion. Henrik von Eckermann was less fortunate with King Edward’s coil spring. The fox hit the sharp red jump that already made it difficult for many, through the white starry ground beam below. Leon Gee (by Baltic VDL) and Martin Fuchs also had problems during the steep jump built over a gravel box. But the duo was too fast so they were allowed to move into the second round.
The obvious last round (of the four) was for Daniel Dewser with Killer Queen VDM (by Eldorado vd Zeshoek). A well-developed tour in which the experienced duo made no mistakes and everything was fine. Moreover, in a quick time, the German gave himself a good starting point for the second round.
In the second round, there were again many technical and power-consuming obstacles, with a hard to see black-brown mix from Liverpool, a tough line with a steep water ramp followed by a group and of course the well-known ‘Dutch Bike’ obstacle. It soon turned out to be a very difficult path. The first obstacle, the narrow wall, immediately caused problems, including for Peder Frederickson. But also the combination of extra water and the big yellow triangular bar on a curved line made it difficult for groups. Martin Fox was the fifth starter and number one with Leon J, although it certainly wasn’t easy. Gerrit Nyberg made a big impression in the first round with his Ben 431 (by Balou 400) thanks to his four-speed. In the second round, the duo remained clear, despite some touching touches. The young German won the Rolex GB for Aachen this year and was (theoretically) still on his way to getting a reward. Eugenio Garza-Perez also managed to stay clear afterwards, thanks to a very strong lap with Contago (by Cornet Obolensky). The Mexican youngster was ecstatic about his perfect lap, but still struggled with the four fouls on the first lap. In the end, Garza Perez finished fourth, and fifth for Nyberg.
Dary Law and Harry Smulders started round two well, although there was a twist on the bike. But the stallion snatched a ray from the bump of the black-and-white mix with the pelican that came from the world championships in Denmark. This means that Smulders and his Fox are back in eighth place in the final standings with a total of 5 penalty points. Champion defending champions Steve Gordat and Vinard de Cercei teamed up perfectly in the second round. Guerdat said earlier today that his horse is very special and that he can only ride if he uses candy, but the two are clearly very compatible with each other.
Jill Thomas had a great, clear first round, but his horse was pretty obnoxious in the second. The eunuch flew in all directions, but the young Belgian kept Aretino in check and was very lucky with a record number of touches. The last group, over two Liverpools, went in a kind of slalom. But everything remained the same and the jump was a reality. Daniel Dewser and Killer Quinn also didn’t make it through the second round flawlessly. She almost passed through the flower arrangement on the bike rail and the mare jumped several times to the right. But the German synthesis was also straightforward and joined the leap. McLain Ward and HH Azur were lucky in the oxer combination, but saw a drop in bar in the Liverpool group. It is a pity that the group did not appear in a jump, because the mare still looked very anxious. The remaining three groups were allowed to determine the podium order.
Sunny Thiessen, Johnny Pals and Gore Freiling also participated in the first round of the Netherlands. Patrick Lehmann qualified for the Grand Prix, but chose to stay on the sidelines with Remo out. Harry Smulders was the only one to make it to the last 12. Johnny Pulse and Charlie (by Kalidou I) approached the difficult crossroads after the water with a lot of politics and it worked out well. But unfortunately there was a hoof in the water before that. Then Charlie was surprised by the white earth ray at a narrow red cliff. Balls also went over time and the score was 12 penalty points.
Sanne Thijssen and Con Quidam RB (by Quinar) got off to a good start, but came in very flat in the triple jump B element and the bull element C was also involved. Moreover, the Dutch drove very well again, but the huge bull that was second on the road was too big for Kun Quidam. Thijssen lost her calendars, but kept her sanity and decided not to jump off the last hurdle. She rewarded her horse that fought for her, as usual.
Jur Vrieling and Long John Silver (via Lasino) got off to a good start, but Long John didn’t seem to realize how far away they were four meters across the water. Immediately after that there was also a beam in the trio. Moments later, Vrieling got a pass on the Swedish set and decided to say goodbye to the disappointment.