Maikel van der Vleuten on what it means to win the GCL Super Cup with Madrid in Motion
Madrid in Motion made history last December by winning the first ever GCL Super Cup, battling through three knock-out days of competition to lift the coveted trophy at the GC Playoffs. Global Champions popped in for a coffee with one of the team members Maikel van der Vleuten at home in The Netherlands to reflect back on that incredible win, and his hopes and dreams for the season ahead…
How was your season last year for Madrid in Motion, highs and lows?
During the season we were a bit so-so. It’s hard to manage the whole season right, but we had a good result in Paris, and the rest was not bad - mostly in the middle. We really put the concentration on the GC Playoffs in Prague, and we knew we had to make something good for the sponsors of the team. So we picked the three best horses at that moment; Verdi, Calimero and Rokefeller, and worked to that. I must say we all believed in it, that we could make it. In the weeks towards the Playoffs, we focused everything towards Prague.
Tell us about that run up, that build up. Where you talking as a team, and what was the plan?
We all know our horses very well, and we all know what to do with them individually to get them in the right shape. During the year it’s difficult to do that every week, but sometimes you can pick a goal and you can tailor your weeks before to ensure they’re fit and quiet; it allows them to want to fight for it. But you never know beforehand if it’s going to work out well of course. I think all three of us were very focused even at the event - quite a lot happened at the show! Strange things happened, there were difficult fences in the course, spooky jumps, and new ones that were different from normal, so some horses stopped or passed by. Ben Maher, Peder Fredricson, Harrie Smolders, David Will, Jos Verlooy… Things that normally don’t happen! In our team our horses are all very experienced, always straightforward.
Actually Edwina told me after the first day, she said she watched the whole class but felt that our team looked the most relaxed and quiet. She thought we could win! But I think we kept our focus, which helped the horses jump well. That week was ours.
For you as a rider, did you feel that pressure?
Yes. There are many people involved in a GCL team, the two riders not competing and all the sponsors. Most of them were actually there, but you want to do well for everyone. But in my case for some reason it makes me better, even sharper.
Winning the GCL Super Cup… What was on your mind when you were on the podium, or even that moment behind the scenes when you saw your teammates. Can you describe that?
It was one of the most emotional moments ever. It did a lot for us as a rider, for my Dad and for us as a team. I never saw my Dad so happy in his whole life. The moment it happened it was like…. whoah. And it’s a good thing that we can give such happiness. I felt the same, it was incredible. It was one of the highlights on my career.
You have some new teammates this year, but also a solid set up with some of the Madrid in Motion originals. What is your goal for 2019 and how do you plan to achieve it?
We have a good team this year, and our goal is to do better in the overall Championship as well as do well at the Playoffs. It’s great there are now six riders in the team, as there are more events in the Championship, and it means we can use different riders, with their best horses, in different events. The key I think will be to bring our best horses, the level is so high you cannot have just one or two good horses in a team - it has to be across your teammates. It’s important you keep communicating very well and make a plan for the whole year. We made a plan already in fact!
But you also need to be flexible. My Dad is very good at managing that - he’s very important to the success of our team, he knows all our horses very well and treats us all equally. Plus he’s an amazing rider and knows what he’s talking about! We’re really looking forward to this season.
Photo Dana Blue: Dirk Caremans
From: Global Champions