Dutch riders don’t always win the Longines Grand Prix at CHIO Rotterdam. But in the 2020s they usually do.

In the past four years, victory in the hallmark Grand Prix has three times gone to a rider from the Netherlands.

Sanne Thijssen started the streak in 2021 with Con Quidam Rb. Willem Greve did the deed with Highway TN in 2023. And Marc Houtzager made it three on Sunday aboard Sterrehof’s Dante. (Only Ireland’s Daniel Coyle’s win in 2022 with Oak Grove’s Carlyle mars their clean sweep.)

For Houtzager, 53, it’s his second time taking the title. He first captured it 12 years prior on Sterrehof’s Tamino.

“Incredible that it worked out again now,” said the Dutch Olympian.

While winning a Grand Prix is always a good day at the office, it’s a little sweeter still when you do it executing a foot-perfect ride in 15-horse jump off that saw times get progressively faster with each round.

“My ride went exactly according to plan, but I did not expect this,” continued Houtzager, who’s winning time was 36.07 seconds.

“When I looked up and saw the time on the screen, I couldn’t believe that I was faster than Harrie [Smolders]. I knew that I couldn’t have done better than this, so I would have been satisfied with a lower place. The rest are also a bit younger than me now. But we won, and that is fantastic.

“It’s also very special because Dante is already 16 years old. We carefully choose which shows to compete in with her. I hope I can keep her fit for a few more years to continue competing. She did great here, in any case.”

Sunday’s victory is the fifth Grand Prix title for the Dutch Warmblood mare (Canturano x Phin-Phin) and third at 1.60m. According to Jumpr, Sterrehof’s Dante has a 37% clear round average over 57 rounds at the height and finishes in the top 10 half the time (49%).

This season, Houtzager has used her sparingly. Since January, he’s only attempted five 1.60m rounds with the mare and when they are in the ring, tends to save her for success. He opted to retire mid-course in two of those Grand Prix appearances, once after pulling a single rail, but finished top 10 in the three others.

Smolders’s ride on Uricas v/d Kattevennen “didn’t go entirely to plan.” But even if it had, he wouldn’t have caught the on-form Dutch pair.

“At some point, we lost focus, and I took the turn a bit too wide, costing me an extra gallop stride. But even if I had ridden the perfect jump-off, I still wouldn’t have beaten Marc,” said Smolders, who crossed the timers in 37.42.

Germany’s Christian Kukuk took second on Just Be Gentle in 36.55.