Dutch Team Wins FEI Nations Cup on Home Turf at 2024 CDIO Rotterdam

Mon, 06/24/2024 - 11:55
2024 CDIO Rotterdam
A lap of honour, Dutch style: not on horseback but on bikes at the 2024 CDIO Rotterdam :: Photos © Digishots

-- FEI press release by Catie Staszak, edited by Eurodressage

Few nations have been as dominant in their home Nations Cup as The Netherlands. After finishing off the podium last year, the Dutch reasserted their dominance at home with a notable victory on 20 June 2024 in the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ of Rotterdam (NED).

Holland Edges out Denmark

Led by Chef d'Equipe Patrick van der Meer, the quartet of Edward Gal (Total US), Marlies van Baalen (Habibi DVB), Emmelie Scholtens (Indian Rock), and Dinja van Liere (Hermes) kept Denmark at bay with a total score of 222.392, led by van Liere's winning 77.891% in the CDIO5* Grand Prix test. 

Denmark, who won the series' last leg at Compiegne (FRA), finished second with a total score of 220.349. They were just ahead of Germany (219.435), who captured the opening leg in Wellington (USA).

The Netherlands has now won four of the last five editions of this event. They have only lost on three occasions in the last 11 years. 

"It's always nice to win, but to win here in Rotterdam is very special. It was really nice. We also had some tests with some unexpected results. There were some mistakes, there was some tension, but at the end, especially Dinja—she lifted us all up. We won, and that's super," said Patrick van der Meer (NED) who is also the sports director of this event.

Dutch Battle it Out for Team Victory and Olympic Spots

Dinja van Liere on Hermes
For the Dutch the CDIO Rotterdam was not only an important home show but their second and last Dutch Olympic team selection trial. After the National Championships where Van Liere, Scholtens and Van Baalen put themselves on the podium, in Rotterdam come-back "kid" Edward Gal elbowed Van Baalen into the fourth spot for team consideration.

The Dutch squad was the only team to have all four of its athletes score above 70%, including its drop score—van Baalen's 70.435%. But it was team anchor van Liere who really rose the team's average with Joop van Uytert and Jan Anker's 12-year-old stallion, Hermes (by Easy Game x Flemmingh), her bronze medal-winning partner from the 2022 World Championships (DEN). Their 77.891% score was not only the highest score put forward by the team, but it was also the highest of the competition.

"This was only our third competition this year, and he just keeps getting better. He's really a champion in the piaffe and passage, but he's such a complete horse. He can do it all and has so much talent," said Dinja van Liere (NED), who struggled with Hermes' concentration issues at the start of the year at the Aachen Festival 4 Dressage but then found their stride.

"He can be a clown sometimes and make up his own test, so I have to stay sharp, but I'm so proud of him and so happy with our performance today," van Liere added.

Below Pars, Climbing the Ladder

Isabell Werth and Queenparks Wendy
Both Denmark and Germany kept things close, and the team anchors proved to be the separators. With some horses not on their A-game at the CHIO Rotterdam, Carina Cassoe Krüth (DEN) and Heiline's Danciera performed below par and scored 67.674%, which was ultimately dropped from her team. Isabell Werth (GER) boosted her team with a 76.935% score aboard Wendy (by Sezuan x Soprano), but it was not enough to match The Netherlands' collective consistency. 

Werth had originally entered SuperB for Rotterdam, but swapped her for Queenparks Wendy last minute, just like  at the Aachen Festival 4 Dressage earlier this year. With her top horse Quantaz not able to prove the required consistency for the absolute top, Werth has re-shifted her focus on Wendy as her main Olympic hopeful. Even a  special freestyle has been designed for the mare. Werth and Wendy will now have to be able to beat Ingrid Klimke and Franziskus in the Grand Prix in Aachen to solidify her spot on the German Olympic team.

Gal's Come Back with an  Olympic Appetite

Edward Gal on Total U.S.
It was a particularly successful return to team competition for Edward Gal, who took a sabbatical of nearly three years from competitive sport following the Tokyo Olympic Games (JPN). Rotterdam marked just the second international competition for Gal and the 12-year-old stallion Total US since 2021, leaving it to the absolute last minute to achieve his required second MER score on the final possible show weekend on the calendar.

The rider returned to the scene just one month ago, having won both the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special at CDI3* Exloo (NED) in May. The pair received a 73.196% from the judges in Rotterdam, second-best on their team.

"For almost three years, I didn't ride in any competitions, and I just started again," Gal said. "I didn't have to start all over again with [Total Us, because] he has so much experience. Now he will settle down a bit in the stable."

Despite being 12 years old, Total U.S. has only competed in six (!) international shows in his life? He did four international competitions in 2021 and only two in 2024 so far.

Third Dutch Olympic team spot

It will be very interesting to see who Patrick van der Meer will favour: Gal, Minderhoud or Van Baalen for that third Dutch Olympic team spot. 

Hans Peter Minderhoud, who in fact ended up fourth overall at the first Dutch Olympic Selection trial in Ermelo (ahead of Gal and Total U.S) was forced to ride the national Grand Prix class in Rotterdam as there were no extra starting places available in the nations' cup tour. 

Marlies van Baalen on Habibi DVB
Team Captain Patrick van der Meer believes that the competitive conditions would be identical for the national and CDIO riders in Rotterdam. Gal scored 73.196% and Minderhoud had 73.022% on Toto Jr, which was more than Indian Rock and Habibi.

FEI Nations Cup Series

Rotterdam is the penultimate leg of the 2024 FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ series, but for the Dutch, the competition plays an additional role, acting as the final test before the nation selects its team for the upcoming Paris Olympic Games (FRA). With big names on the Dutch roster, van der Meer certainly recognized the talent within the group he put forward to compete Thursday.

"We're close to [the Olympics in] Paris and making the selection...I'm not only here as the chef d'equipe but also as the sports director, and I'm really happy with all the riders here," van der Meer said. "When you see the big names here and then being able to win, it gives a great feeling."

Ahead of the series finale at Falsterbo, Germany leads the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ standings with 30 points. Denmark sits second with 28 points, just ahead of Sweden (27 points). 

Photos © Dirk Caremans

Related Links
Scores: 2024 CDIO Rotterdam
Dutch Team for 2024 CDIO Rotterdam Announced
Kikkert-Van der Linde, Van Dalsen, Schelstraete, Luiten, Van Liere Win 2024 Dutch Dressage Championships