Real championship racer. For example, national coach José Lansink paid tribute to Harry Smulders last month after she picked up a World Cup silver in America. But the 42-year-old racer from Lage Mierde never became the champion of the Netherlands. “Oh, there are still more missing from my record.”
Harry Smulders ended up right next to the podium at the opening number of NK’s jump on Thursday. In Deurne, Maikel van der Vleuten gave the final push at the end of the afternoon programme. Smolders and Uricas van de Kattevennen drove for a long time after a fast and clear run, but in the end they didn’t have to show up for the awards ceremony. Respectively, Pim Mulder and winner Jur Vrieling and Maikel van der Vleuten proved that it could be done faster.
I’ve been prepping all winter, trying all sorts of things so I can take the final steps
“We’ll definitely get in,” Smulders looked back on a successful opening day. Last year he ran the Dutch National Championships just one day later, because his horse was not quite fit. Now he’s still in full racing, although Uricas’ build-up time has been a little tight after Smolders’ successful World Cup campaign with Monaco in Omaha. “It was a short notice, but he got off to a good start. You can’t win a championship on day one, but you can lose it.”
The now famous Monaco enjoys a short break. After returning from America, Smulders immediately began his NK stint with Uricas. “This horse may have the potential to follow in Monaco’s footsteps. Uricas is now eleven and running his first championship here. Late bloomer. He has a lot of quality, but at times he’s still a little frustrating. Now I’m starting to see the contours of what I imagine With this horse. I’ve been working on the setup all winter, trying all sorts of things so I can take the last steps. The puzzle pieces are starting to come together.”
Smolders sees similarities with Monaco, which has long worked in the shadow of its masterpieces Emerald and Don VHP. “I think that’s why Monaco has been so successful. If he was my best horse so early in his career I don’t think he would have had the career he has now. And he’s still getting better. In the World Cup final he showed perhaps his best form ever.” Uricas have similar properties.”
That national coach, Gus Lansink, called him a true championship rider in Omaha, something the “Terminator” Smulders understands. ,,Since the emerald won the silver medal in the 2016 World Cup Final, I have taken the podium position myself or with one of my students. Wasn’t it in the World Cup final, then at the European Championships, the World Championships or the Olympic Games. “
Smolders has stepped on the NK podium many times, but has never won a national title. ,, I didn’t lead the Dutch championship much. I’ve always had foreign owners. They had no unusual interest in the Dutch championship. I think it’s good to lead the championship, it gives an extra dimension. I already have a great career, but there are always things to do.”
Anyway, a new champion will be honored on Sunday afternoon. Defending champion Willem Greif canceled Markelo at the last minute to compete in Deurne, due to his back injury.
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