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Highway to victory: Willem Greve wins Rolex Grand Prix

The first Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major of the calendar year – culminated this afternoon with the show’s pinnacle class, the Rolex Grand Prix.

The energy in the Brabanthallen was electric as fans waited with bated breath to see if the current Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender, Richard Vogel, could claim back-to-back Majors in his pursuit of the ultimate prize in the sport – a quest that would not come easy with a sensational field of riders including the current European, World and Olympic Champions all hoping to claim this prestigious Rolex Grand Prix.

Second to go – Rolex Testimonee and winner of the CPKC ‘International’ Grand Prix, presented by Rolex at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament – Martin Fuchs was the first to master Louis Konickx’s exceptionally built course . His mount, Leone Jei, has jumped eight clears in Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Majors, the most of any horse in the class.

The next combination into the main arena, World No.1 Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward ensured there would be a jump-off with a perfectly judged clear round, whilst the flying Frenchman Julien Epaillard, was another to clear the 14 combination course and kept his hopes of the becoming the first French rider to win a Major alive. At the halfway point, seven riders from seven different nations had secured their place in the jump-off including the ‘Dutch Rider of the Year’, Harrie Smolders who set the home crowd alight, and German rider Marcus Ehning. Of the remaining riders, only two additional combinations proceeded to the second round with some of the competition’s favourites such as Steve Guerdat and the live contender Richard Vogel unable to join the exclusive list of riders.

Returning in the same order in which they jumped in the first round, it was Fuchs who set the pace with a clear in a time of 35.11 seconds, however, his lead was quickly usurped by von Eckermann and King Edward who showed why they are considered to be the leading combination in the world, when they crossed the line in 33.74 seconds. The crowd roared to life as Smolders produced a super smooth round, but heartbreak came when he was 0.92 seconds slower. It looked like it would be a Swedish victory, but last to go, Dutch rider Willem Greve with his bay stallion, Highway TN N.O.P. produced an expertly judged round to beat the World No.1’s time by just 0.04 seconds in front of an cheering crowd. Greve therefore not only claimed his first Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major but also a first for the Netherlands, and become the live contender ahead of the CHIO Aachen in July.