Bruynseels Becomes the New Live Contender in the Rolex Grand Slam Upon Claiming Victory at the Dutch Masters

Niels Bruynseels and Gancia de Muze. Photo: Ashley Neuhof
Niels Bruynseels and Gancia de Muze. Photo: Ashley Neuhof

‘s-Hertogenbosch, NLD – Mar. 12, 2018 – 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 Belguim’s Niels Bruynseels who shifted the pace up a gear to clinch the victory and his first ever Major in 37.10 secs.

Niels Bruynseels. Photo: Kit Houghton
Niels Bruynseels. Photo: Kit Houghton

The first Major of the season has drawn to a spectacular close and now all eyes are on CHIO Aachen taking place 13-22 July 2018. With the biggest equestrian names in the world expected to attend, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping new live contender will no doubt be planning his path to victory to see if he can make history once more.


Niels Bruynseels – Rolex Grand Prix winner

On his win:
“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 honor 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.”

On his next focus:
“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.”

O the Rolex Grand Prix:
“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.”

On Gancia de Muze:
“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.”

Frank Delvallet –Niels Bruynseels’ Groom

On watching Niels win:
“It is just amazing, the horse is unbelievable! It is my first win in a 5* event and just means so much to whole team. I have only been with Niels since July, but he is an incredible rider and I just feel so emotional, I have a tear in my eye right now!”

On his journey:
“To be a part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is so exciting, we did not expect to do so well and we hope that we can make the journey last as long as possible!”

On caring for Gancia De Muze:
“She is such a lovely horse, she is so easy to manage, she knows her job and she proved today again that she is one of the top horses on the circuit. She is going to get lots of rewards and kisses from us tonight, even though she doesn’t really like that!”

Louis Konickx – Rolex Grand Prix Course Designer

Course designer Louis Konick. Photo: Kit Houghton
Course designer Louis Konickx. Photo: Kit Houghton

On designing an important course:
“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.”

On the course’s tricky parts:
“Yes [we added tricky parts], 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.”

On the pressure:
“Yes [now that this Rolex Grand Prix is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping], 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.”

On what makes him passionate:
“Every day and every event is 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.”


Rolex Grand Prix CSI5*
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / R1 Faults / JO Faults | Time
1. Gancia de Muze / Niels Bruynseels / BEL / 0 / 0 | 37.10
2. Cornado NRW / Marcus Ehning / GER / 0 / 0 | 37.80
3. Emerald / Harrie Smolders / NED / 0 / 0 | 37.89
4. Gin Chin van het Lindenhof / Bertram Allen / IRL / 0 / 0 | 38.74
5. VDL Glasgow vh Merelsnest N.O.P. / Jur Vrieling / NED / 0 / 0 | 39.89
6. Idi Utopia / Maikel Van Der Vleuten / NED / 0 / 0 | 40.90
7. Fit For Fun 13 / Luciana Diniz / POR / 0 / 4 | 37.67
8. Mary Lou 194 / Henrik Von Eckermann / SWE / 0 / 4 | 37.72
9. Bianca / Steve Guerdat / SUI / 0 / 4 | 38.53
10. Ursula XII / Scott Brash / GBR / 0 / 4 | 40.68
11. Sterrehof’s Calimero / Marc Houtzager / NED / 0 / 4 | 40.94
12. LB Convall / Philipp Weishaupt / GER / 0 / 8 | 35.99

For full results, click here.

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