Tag Archives: Niels Bruynseels

Inside CHIO Aachen: A Sneak Peak

Niels Bruynseels at Knokke Hippique (Photo: Knokke Hippique)

The second Major of the year, the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen, takes place on 22nd July and is expected to attract over 40,000 spectators to witness the prestigious competition. The course, set by Frank Rothenberger, is considered to be one of the most challenging and demanding 5* tracks. The sport’s finest horse and rider partnerships are tested to their limits, displaying enviable skill and talent, striving to make history and to be crowned the Rolex Grand Prix champion.

Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Rider Watch

With the world’s best horse and rider combinations set to take center stage for Rolex Grand Prix, there are some notable contenders whose recent performance would state they are on track for a Rolex Major win:

Niels Bruynseels, the current Rolex live contender, has continued his great form since producing a lightning jump-off round at The Dutch Masters aboard his 12-year-old mare Gancia de Muze in March. The notoriously fast duo took the top prize in the Rolex Grand Prix at Knokke Hippique following a speedy and faultless jump-off. With the next stage of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping very much in his sites, Bruynseels will be pulling out all the stops to make sure his Rolex Grand Slam journey continues.

One of the most experienced riders on the circuit, Swiss hero Steve Guerdat, has had a successful summer so far. His most notable victory was in front of HM The Queen at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May. Seeing off top-class competitors, Guerdat rode an impeccable round to snap up the Rolex Grand Prix victory. Guerdat is no stranger when it comes to winning Majors; crowned champion at CHI Geneva on more than one occasion, Guerdat stays calm under pressure and will certainly be a formidable contender for the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen.

Fellow Rolex Testimonee, Eric Lamaze, has prepared well for the CHIO Aachen. At the Rolex Grand Prix in Windsor, he shaved time off Guerdat’s winning result, but a light touch on the pole resulted in four penalties. Fresh from his victory in the ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Spruce Meadows with his 15-year-old mare, Fine Lady, Eric Lamaze will be hoping to continue his recent form as he eyes up the coveted Rolex Grand Prix trophy.

Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca is also looking strong, having won the Rolex Grand Prix in Rome (Piazza di Siena). De Luca and his chestnut gelding, Halifax Van Het Kluizebos, jumped two immaculate clear rounds, stopping the clock at 45.37 secs, making him one to watch.

Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum has tasted victory at CHIO Aachen once before, having won the Rolex Grand Prix in 2005 on her 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Shutterfly. Michaels-Beerbaum will have the patriotic home-crowd support, willing her to repeat her 2005 success thirteen years on.

Rolex Testimonee, Scott Brash, the first and only rider to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, brings a wealth of experience and always performs well under pressure.

© 2018 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Interview with Niels Bruynseels, Current Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Live Contender

Niels Bruynseels riding Gancia de Muze (Photo: Kit Houghton)

What have you been up to since winning the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters?

“Straight after winning the Rolex Grand Prix I celebrated with my team; we were all so excited! It was a late finish that evening, but because I only live an hour away from the show we went back to my house and continued the celebrations there.

“We went to Paris a week later and came second in the big competition there, but since then my horse has had a bit of a rest. This week she will start competing again as we start our preparations for CHIO Aachen and the next stage of the Rolex Grand Slam.”

Can you tell us a bit about your horse?

“Gancia de Muze is a very special horse; she is a 12-year-old Belgian-bred mare and has a very unique character! She is very stubborn sometimes, and I have to do everything for her otherwise she gets in a bad mood! She receives a lot of special treatment; she has lots of time in the field and because she doesn’t like flat work, so she is lunged and jumped more frequently. She is very set in her ways! But she really loves her job and enjoys herself so much at the events. Every time we compete together, she really fights for me; she has a competitive nature and wants to win!”

Are you planning on attending CHIO Aachen? If so, how are you preparing for the next part of your Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping journey?

“Of course, I plan to ride in the Rolex Grand Prix at Aachen; it is one of my goals to win there. This week I plan go to Madrid and will see how my horse is performing on grass. I have scheduled some competitions on grass, specifically to prepare for the Rolex Grand Prix, with the hope to continue my Rolex Grand Slam journey.”

Do you have any superstitions?

“You could say I do have one superstition… When I arrive at the hotel, I always layout my riding clothes in the same order, separating them out into ‘Day one’, ‘Day two’, and so on. It is a routine that I always go through. Aside from that I don’t have any other superstitions, just hope that my training pays off and I can perform to the best of my ability.”

Can you talk us through your daily routine when training?

“The grooms start at 6.30am; they do the morning feeds and prepare the horses. I arrive at 7.30am to begin riding the horses. Each morning, before I arrive at the stables, I make a plan for the whole day which outlines the team’s responsibilities. We have a total of 25 horses, so it is important that I stay really organized to make sure everything at the yard runs smoothly. I will then spend the day riding seven to eight horses, so I am very busy, but I love it! I concentrate fully on the training of the horses, so the days when I am not competing are completely focused on that.”

How did it feel to win a Major? What was going through your mind?

“Winning a Grand Prix is always nice, but to win a Rolex Major is very unique and so special, the feeling was unreal. The media hype is on a whole different level, and the attention I have received since then is greater than ever. Everybody is focused on the Rolex Grand Slam as it is one of the biggest parts of our sport, so everyone is talking about it which adds to the excitement. It was a magical moment and one of the best in my career so far. I hope there will be more occasions like this!”

If you weren’t a rider, what would you be?

“I have always loved horses; they are my absolute world. So, if I wasn’t a rider I would have to be something that is still horse orientated, therefore I think I would be a horse dealer.”

Do you have any hobbies?

“No hobbies, only horses! If I am at a show and have some free time I enjoy sightseeing and trying the food of the local area, but other than that it’s all about the horses.”

What is your advice for young riders?

“My advice to young riders would be: you can always keep learning from other people. Make sure when you are at events, you are watching the other competitors and seeing how they ride. If you want to improve and progress you shouldn’t rush or be frustrated when you don’t reach the top straight away; it is a step-by-step process and you can never stop learning.”

Do you feel that there is added pressure as the current Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender?

“I don’t feel too stressed right now, but there is certainly a different sort of pressure that comes with being the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender. You are aware of more people talking about it and I have had a lot of people ask me if I am going for the Rolex Grand Slam. It is a different feeling right now, but I am sure at Aachen I will feel the extra pressure as I don’t want to give up my position of live contender!”

What do you want to achieve in your career; what is your dream?

“Aside from winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, I want an Olympic gold medal, whether it is with the team or as an individual – that is a big goal for me. I also hope to compete at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon this September and a medal there would be nice too!”

© 2018 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Inside the Dutch Masters: The Final Day

Niels Bruynseels (picture: Ashley Neuhof).

The Rolex Grand Prix Winner: Niels Bruynseels

Niels Bruynseels is the new Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender following a sensational performance in the Rolex Grand Prix at the Dutch Masters, one of the four Majors that make up the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

Under the spotlights of the Brabanthal arena, the world’s best horse and rider combinations battled for the pinnacle prize of the weekend, all vying to start their Rolex Grand Slam journey.

The 13 riders through to the jump-off included Great Britain’s Scott Brash, the only rider so far to have won the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, putting extra pressure on the competitors. Eighth to go, Marcus Ehning, raised the bar with a speedy clear round in 37.80 secs, but it was Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels who shifted the pace up a gear to clinch the victory and his first ever Major in 37.10 secs.

1st Place: NIELS BRUYNSEELS (BEL)

  • 2016 and 2017 Stephex Rolex Grand Prix Winner
  • Horse: Gancia De Muze, a 12-year-old bay mare

2nd Place: MARCUS EHNING (GER)

  • Winner of 3 Majors & Olympic Gold Medallist
  • Horse: Cornado NRW, a 15-year-old grey stallion

3rd Place: HARRIE SMOLDERS (NED)

  • World Number 2
  • Horse: Emerald, A 14-year-old chestnut stallion

Winners Interview with Niels Bruynseels

How does it feel to win your first Major?

“This has to be one of my biggest victories. I don’t even have the words to say how much it means to me. This show has always been great, but the support of Rolex has made it even better and it is an honour for me to come here and compete against the best riders in the world. The atmosphere in the arena was incredible; it was a very special moment for me.”

Your Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping campaign has started; is CHIO Aachen going to be your focus now?

“Aachen is certainly the next stop for me. The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is the biggest prize in our sport and I hope I can come to Germany in July and repeat what I have achieved here.”

Do you feel that the course lived up to the Rolex Grand Prix standard?

“I think the team of course designers did a very good job; it was a tough course but good for the horses. There were 13 in the jump-off which is nice for the crowd and created top competition.”

And what about your horse – has she done you proud today?

“My horse was a superstar today. I cannot thank her enough. She always tries her best for me and I couldn’t be happier with her performance this afternoon. I think I was at advantage going last in the jump-off. I was able to see all the other riders go before me and where the course was difficult. I had a plan in my head; I knew I would need a fast ride, and Grancia exceeded all expectations; she is a special horse for sure.”

Words from the Course Designer, Louis Konickx

Talk to us about the process of designing such an important course like a Rolex Grand Prix.

“We first came up with the ideas and concept three weeks ago. My assistant and I are in constant communication, always bouncing ideas off each other; it is a team effort. Because the arena is bigger this year, we added longer combinations and more related distances. It is also very important to make sure you have the right number of verticals and oxers because if you are too defensive and have too many hard oxers, it asks too much of the horse and will not get the desired number of clear rounds. It needs to be challenging… but achievable.”

Are there any particular tricky parts you put in?

“Yes, but we wanted to make sure that there was a variety for the different types of horses.”

“If you just build big oxers, it challenges the horses that don’t have scope but is easy for the horses that do, so it is vital that we have diversity which will ultimately produce the best competition.”

“In all cases we are wanting to test the tuning between horse and rider and their ability to work together in a partnership; that is what we are searching for as course designers.”

Is there more pressure on you now that this Rolex Grand Prix is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping?

“Yes, there is certainly more pressure! Most of it comes from the riders; they really want to win this class and go after the Rolex Grand Slam which means we need to make sure the course gives them the opportunity to compete at the best of their ability. Now that this is part of the Rolex Grand Slam there is more at stake than just the result of this Grand Prix.”

What makes you passionate about your role?

“Every day and every event are different. I have particularly enjoyed this year at the Dutch Masters as we have designed a lot of new fences and have created a sense of the Netherlands within that. We have focused on Dutch artists, for example Van Gogh, who we think represents a ‘Dutch Master’. We have also designed fences to represent the Dutch fruit, all small touches that I think make the course extra special.”

E-Mail: press@rolexgrandslam.com
Internet: www.rolexgrandslam.com

Bruynseels Best Again to Win € 300 000 Rolex Grand Prix at Brussels Stephex Masters

Image Copyright: ©Scoopdyga.

Niels Bruynseels (BEL) concluded his fantastic weekend at the Brussels Stephex Masters in the best possible way when he went to the top in Sunday’s CSI5* € 300 000 Rolex Grand Prix presented by Audi at the Brussels Stephex Masters.

After his win in Friday night’s Top Sport Flandres Prize, Bruynseels came with a typically quiet warning of what was to come when he said that he hoped that he would “grow into the event (…).” An understatement, as his Grand Prix performance would illustrate.

There was barely room to move as the competition got underway; the Brussel-crowds met up plentiful for the highlight of the weekend and the beautiful VIP was fully seated to create a fantastic atmosphere for the riders as the Rolex Grand Prix presented by Audi got underway.

The first round track designed by Uliano Vezzani (ITA) counted thirteen fences and the faults spread out over the cleverly build course. In the end, thirteen riders produced clear rounds to proceed to the jump-off.

With some of the world’s best riders in it, such as Rolex testimonees and Olympic Champions Eric Lamaze (CAN), Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) and Steve Guerdat (SUI) all in, it was bound to be an exciting jump-off.

Janne Friederike Meyer (GER) was the one to open the jump-off on the powerful Goja 27 (Wandor van de Mispelaere x Palestro vd Begijnakker), a horse bought from Stephex Stables three years ago. The 10-year-old gelding displayed his jumping skills with yet another incredible performance, and Meyer put pressure on those to come with a clear round in 49 seconds. Eric Lamaze, Rodrigo Pessoa, Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) and Pieter Devos (BEL) all tried, but picked up faults in their attempts to catch up with Meyer.

However, Niels Bruynseels would get it all completely right. With the extremely quick and careful 10-year-old mare Cas de Liberte (Cracky Z x Chellano Z), Bruynseels got an excellent turn to the second vertical before he went on to use the three long stretches that followed to the maximum. Taking all the risk on the long run to the STX vertical – the third last fence – the spectators held their breaths, before they started cheering Niels on as he approached the penultimate oxer. This led the way to the very last stretch that went all the way down the long side of the ring to the final Rolex plank. As Bruynseels crossed the finish line, the crowds exploded – the score board showed the time of 46.53 seconds and there was a home leader.

Not one of the seven riders left had any chance of going clear and catching Bruynseels’s time. Steve Guerdat gave it a good go though, on his extremely well jumping 10-year-old mare Bianca (Balou du Rouet x Cardento) – a horse that looks set for future stardom. With a time of 47.56 seconds, Guerdat finished second – leaving third to Meyer.

As last to go, Stephex Stables-rider Daniel Deusser (GER) produced a fantastic round on Equita van’t Zorgvliet (Cassini I x Darco) – but even though the time was good enough for the win it came on the expense of a rail in the last part of the combination mid-way. In the end, it would put Daniel fourth – still good enough to earn him the leading rider title of the weekend.

The one to drive home in a brand new Audi A6 Allroad Quattro with a Rolex watch around his wrist was Niels Bruynseels, and the winner could not hold his smiles back as he met the press. “I would like to thank Stephan and the whole Stephex-team that I could compete here in Brussels at this wonderful show. I am really happy; my horses have been in great form for the last couple of weeks. It is a real honor to beat great riders like Steve, Janne Friederike and Daniel. I knew I was quite fast, but with these riders still to go you never know if you win it,” Bruynseels said.

Steve Guerdat was not disappointed about being second, and could not be more proud of his fantastic horse Bianca. “It is amazing to have a horse like this. I always believed in this mare, but when you step a new horse up to Grand Prix level there are always new questions of which you don’t know the answers to. She jumped amazing all week, and kept on jumping better and better. The feeling on her is even better than it looks,” Steve smiled from ear to ear.

All riders agreed what a well-organized event the Brussels Stephex Masters is. “When I was here for the first edition three years ago, I honestly thought it was perfect already. I have come here every year since, and every year it is getting even better – I don’t know how they do it. This is a good lesson from the Stephex-team,” commented Guerdat.

“We have been very lucky to see some beautiful sport all week, it has really been a show for the public,” said event director Stephan Conter. “In the jump-off today, all the riders went for it and Niels Bruynseels pulled off a spectacular round.”

“We cannot organise a show like this without sponsors like Rolex and Audi, as well as my whole Stephex-team,” Conter continued. “We are also very lucky as well to have Uliano Vezzani as a course designer, and the tracks have been great all week.”

“As a sponsor, it is really a pleasure to support someone like Stephan Conter who has such an enthusiasm and passion for the sport and for the quality of the infrastructure. For us as a sponsor, it is easy to support an event like this, as we know it will be organized to the top level,” said Joel Aeschlimann, international sponsorship manager at Rolex.

Daniel Deusser leading rider of the CSI5* competitions at the Brussels Stephex Masters   With a total of 229 points, Daniel Deusser (GER) was crowned leading rider of the CSI5* competitions at the Brussels Stephex Masters as the event concluded on Sunday evening. For the title, Deusser won a one-year-lease of a STX two horse truck worth € 22 272.

“Being the leading rider means you have had a good show, so I can be very pleased with my weekend. Although I could not win a class, I was placed each time and it was very nice to compete here. Every day there were a lot of people and the crowd was really behind the riders. It was a really nice atmosphere,” commented Deusser.

Rank two was Laura Kraut (USA) with 217 points, and rank three Steve Guerdat (SUI) with 213 points.

For a full results, please click here.

For more information, please contact: press@stephex.com or Gayle Telford, Revolution Sports + Entertainment E: gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk T: +44 207 592 1207