Leopold van Asten (Photo credit: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)
The first qualifier for the Rolex Grand Prix kicked off in style with Dutch rider Leopold van Asten clinching a home win aboard VDL Groep Beauty, much to the delight of his onlooking sponsor, in the VDL Groep Prize. Last year’s Rolex Grand Prix winner, Niels Bruynseels (BEL), set the bar high with a time of 28.18 secs but it was not fast enough as Leopold van Asten and his super speedy mare secured the win by a fraction, stopping the clock at 27.82 secs.
What were your thoughts heading into the jump-off?
I saw Niels ride before me; he was very fast and had a very good round, so I knew that I really had to go for it. I knew that Beauty is naturally a fast horse, so I tried to get a smooth round and it went well. I didn’t have to pull anywhere; I didn’t have to wait anywhere and luckily in the end it was enough.
Are you riding VDL Groep Beauty on Sunday?
No, I am not riding her on Sunday for the Rolex Grand Prix. I made a plan to jump her today and tomorrow, and will jump Miss Untouchable on Sunday.
The audience is very close to the action at The Dutch Masters. Do you notice that when in the ring?
I think the audience is always close to the action; it doesn’t change anything for me. It didn’t ride any different this year. The atmosphere was very good for a Friday evening; the audience was cheering lots, seemed very happy, and was really loud, which is nice to hear. I think it’s going to be an exciting two days ahead.
How does it feel to win, not only in front of your home crowd, but also your sponsor?
It is always nice; he can only come to five or so shows a year, so you want to be good when he is here, but that is easier said than done! It is nice that on an evening like this everything came together and we have a win.
How will you celebrate?
I will walk to the box to meet my owner and I think we are going to have a drink, and then tomorrow is a new day!
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