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Max Kühner: "I knew I couldn't miss a stride"

The final class of Saturday night's show at The Dutch Masters featured the CSI5* 1.50m Audi Prize. Nine combinations made it to the jump-off.

For a while it seemed no one could come close to Luxembourger Victor Bettendorf, who set the time with his French-bred mare Astuce de la Roque. Max Kühner, however, thought otherwise. With his Chacco Blue offspring Up Too Jacco Blue, the Austrian made sure the audience held its breath. In the end, the scoreboard recorded a stunning time of 31.93 seconds, knocking Victor Bettendorf's time off the table by a whole second.

Max is enjoying an outstanding season with his horses so far. Tonight it was up to Up Too Jacco Blue to get the job done with him. “I knew that the times of Victor Bettendorf and Hendrik von Eckermann were incredibly sharp, so we couldn't miss a stride. That didn't happen. Up Too Jacco Blue was sharp and fast, but he stayed with me. I could stay on it and really enjoyed the jump-off."

Drama queen with focus
Max still had to settle for a covid-proof arena in 2021 while winning the Rolex Grand Prix. Tonight, he got to receive his applause in a sold-out hall. The rider is happy with the progression his gelding continues to make. "It is a horse with a lot of blood, in the third generation there is English thoroughbred. That sharpness definitely helps him in the sport, but it also makes him a bit of a drama queen sometimes. He is getting better at dealing with it, with every competition he takes a step forward. So far, he is holding that upward trend well. The drama is still there from time to time, but then he regains his focus and stays very much on track. Whether he will ever stand still at an award ceremony, I dare not hope, but gaining experience is visibly doing him good. That was shown again tonight."

Best Dutchman
Jeroen Dubbeldam finished fourth with Investment (by Kannan). In his 10-year-old stallion, the routinier once again has a horse that can connect with the top. He evidently chose to ride a clear round without taking too many risks. With results. The time of 34.01 was enough for fourth place.