At 31 years old, having ridden horses since his childhood, the Netherlands’ Maikel Van der Vleuten has won the Longines Global Champions Tour of Monaco. Bringing together only the very best riders in the world, this show jumping event was held in Monaco from 27 to 29 June, as part of Jumping Monaco 2019. We meet the Dutch rider.
You have just won the Longines Global Champions Tour of Monaco. What does this victory mean to you?
MVDV: It gives me great satisfaction. Winning a Grand Prix always makes me happy, but the Monaco Grand Prix is special because it takes place in a beautiful location. It makes the victory even more beautiful. I have competed in several Longines Global Champions Tour events this season, in Mexico City, Miami, Shanghai and Madrid, where I came second. Monaco is my first win this year; it strengthens my record and makes me optimistic for the future.
What in particular helped you win?
My horse surprised me! My best horses were tired after running in several events, so my father [editor's note: Maikel's coach] asked me to ride Beauville Z. Given that he’s only 9 years old and lacks experience, I was only hoping to ride a good run, without aiming for gold. But his commitment surprised me. I’ll probably ride him again this year, perhaps in Berlin at the end of July.
Could you tell us little about your professional journey?
I was born and raised in a place full of horses. My father was a professional rider himself and passed on his passion and know-how to me from an early age. Up until my teenage years I also played football, but it was horse shows that came out on top when it came to choosing a future, because I already had a great career as a junior. I won my first 5-star Grand Prix in 2005 at the age of 17 and then I was part of the Dutch team at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Are you competitive?
Yes, absolutely. I'm not the kind of person for whom taking part is enough – if I’m there, I’m there to win! But I also believe in playing fair. You’re not always going to be the best, and you have to be able to accept that and recognise the merit of your opponents. There are so many excellent riders in the professional circuit; in Monaco, there were least fifteen riders who I thought could have won. We'll each have our day.
What about training?
I train every day. My father and I usually work with a dozen horses, five of them experienced and the others younger. We have to keep the best ones in shape and teach the new ones. As I don't really have any other hobbies – apart from my family and my little girl – I dedicate myself to it full-time. As for fitness, I don't have a special routine, apart from training with the horses. I’m still young... But I may not be as fit one day, and we’ll have to consider a more varied programme.
Did you get to enjoy Monaco during your stay?
Yes, of course. We came with two horses. The morning was set aside for training them, which left us time to walk around in the afternoon. I was able to swim with my family and admire the beauty of this place. For me, the most magical thing was still Port Hercules, where the races were held... It's amazing to be able to train the horses while admiring the yachts and the sea so close by. It's really unique.
In addition to the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix, Jumping Monaco includes the prestigious Trophée Casino de Monte-Carlo event, presented by Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer, a time trial event with 1.5 metre jump-off. The winner of the year is the Swiss rider Martin Fuchs.
© Stefano Grasso / LGCT