From shadow to fame, the Dutch are back
The Netherland: an amazing year with the double gold medals at the World Equestrian Games
We remember them finishing fourth on the 29th September 2013 in Barcelona, being really close to get a medal during the Nation Cup, if not the one in chocolate hated by any competitor. Five weeks after his sixth place at the European Championships in Herning, the Dutch team seemed unprepared. Nothing, not even their Olympic silver medals team and individual (Gerco Schröder and London), could give back the vigor to the orange Musketeers. For many years the Netherlands were among the leading nations of the equestrian world, especially in jumping. It was not difficult to taste the challenge of the situation ... that could not last. Having some of the best ranked recruits, Rob Ehrens, the national coach, had not said his last words. Consequently, he took advantage of spring 2014 to improve his strategy in order to reviver the Dutch squad at the World Equestrian Games. This was not an easy task as he almost lost his outsider, the chestnut stallion London, which was holding the Eurocommerce affix. Nabab the Reve’s son, victim of his owner’s bankruptcy, Ger Visser (President of Eurocommerce), was for sale at auction, while Utascha SFN, the talented Jeroen Dubbeldam mare, centerpiece of his quartet, left the Dutch meadows to join Khalid Mohammed al-Emadi’s stud in Qatar. Only VDL Groep Verdi and VDL Bubalu., faithful partners of Maikel van der Vleuten and Jur Vrieling, were left. During springtime, Gerco Schröder found a buyer for his crack, Gaston Glock, and saw his future brighter. In the meantime, Jeroen Dubbeldam has nurtured a horse named Zenith SFN, which took the place of outsider when Lux’s daughter left. The imperturbable Rob Ehrens could then focus on the Norman deadline. The Nations Cup tour starts late April. In Lummen as in La Baule, with two fifth places, the man with irremovable little round glasses chooses to test new couples, allowing his cardholders to train calmy. Late May, they take the track in Rome where they reach an excellent second place behind the Belgian Red Devils. The phoenix slowly re-energizes and that first attempt sounds like just a beginning. In Rotterdam, Harrie Smolders takes the place of Jur Vrieling, but the Netherlands get once again the silver medal defeated by the French team. Nothing seems to stop the meteoric rise, at Hickstead, the coach sends a second class selection… who gets a new second place. No victory but a great competitiveness! The best highlights took place the 4th of September at the stadium Michel-d’Ornano in Caen. With two more points the Netherlands are sacred world champions, leaving to the French team the second place. The Netherlands are crowned for a fabulous teamwork. This was just the beginning of an incredible week. Two days later, Jeroen Dubbeldam, the one who was perhaps the least expected despite the youth Zenith SFN, qualified himself for the legendary final four... which he takes away againt Patrice Delaveau, Beezie Madden and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson. Who would have thought six months ago, that the Dutch giant in such a short period of time would have the strenght to build up a teammate able to win the Holy Grail? These are the strengths of those wonders. The Dutch will certainly not be satisfied with those two gold medals. Determined to show the world the height of their glory, they go to the Real Polo Club in Barcelona ready to fight. Even full of confidence, they know that it is hard to be competitive at every event. This time it will not happen, Gerco, Maikel, Jeroen and Jur climb again on the first step on the podium for another gold medal: The final of the Nations Cup, thanks to a ‘goalless score’ in the final round. Bullied for nearly two years, Rob Ehrens’s team has proudly found success, making all the fans happy. All the best to Dutch team for the 2015 season!