Tulips, cheese, bicycles, windmills, canals, painters, speed skating, coffee shops. Those are just a few of the many things the Netherlands is famous for around the world, but one can also add horses to the list. Not only does the country have one of the highest rates of horses per inhabitants in Europe and venerable breeding traditions like the KWPN Royal Dutch Sport Horse, it has also boasted some of the top riders in modern-day Olympic equestrian sports.
Jeroen Dubbeldam, for instance, is one of only two show jumpers in history (alongside the late Hans Günter Winkler of Germany) to have won Individual gold medals at the Olympics, World Championships and European Championships. And Dubbeldam will be among the group of riders competing at this week’s Jumping Amsterdam event – the 60th edition of the equestrian rendezvous, which features stages of both the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup and FEI Dressage World Cup.
Indeed, Jumping Amsterdam, taking place from January 24–27, is the penultimate stop on the 2018–19 Western European qualifying circuit ahead of the show jumping Final this spring in Gothenburg, Sweden. Bordeaux, France in February will be the last chance for riders to earn a qualification, and the current League standings show 13 riders with at least 40 points, considered sufficient for one of the 18 places (plus extras) for European athletes in the Final.
While last week’s winner in Leipzig and current leader of the Western European League Christian Ahlmann is not entered in Amsterdam, many of the other top-ranked riders from the continent are. They include the current World No.1 in the sport, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, who skipped the recent show in Leipzig in order to compete with some of his up-and-coming horses in Holland last weekend (and remains in second in the League standings). Guerdat and Dubbeldam will be joined by riders such as Marcus Ehning and Daniel Deusser of Germany, Kevin Staut and Simon Delestre of France, Henrik von Eckermann of Sweden, Alberto Zorzi of Italy, Eduardo Alvarez Aznar of Spain, Niels Bruynseels of Belgium, Sameh El Dahan of Egypt and Yuri Mansur of Brazil. Robert Whitaker, Guy Williams and Michael Whitaker are in town from Great Britain, while Bertram Allen and Michael Duffy are flying Ireland’s colours.
On the dressage side, Amsterdam’s Diamond edition competition will be the eighth World Cup qualifier for horses and riders based in Europe, after Mechelen, Belgium, London, Salzburg, Madrid, Stuttgart, Lyon and Herning, Denmark. Still to come before the Gothenburg Final are Neumünster, Germany and ‘s-Hertogenbosch, also in the Netherlands. Champion pair Isabell Werth and Weihegold are entered in the event, but will face stiff competition from several rivals, including Adelinde Cornelissen and Hans Peter Minderhoud from the host nation. Great Britain will be represented by Richard Davison and Emma Hindle, with Judy Reynolds at the show from the Emerald Isle.