Few nations have been as dominant in their home Nations Cup as The Netherlands. After finishing off the podium last year, the Dutch reasserted their dominance at home with a notable victory Thursday in the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ of Rotterdam (NED).

Led by Chef d’Equipe Patrick van der Meer, the quartet of Edward Gal (Glock’s Total Us), Marlies van Baalen (Habibi DVb N.O.P.), Emmelie Scholtens (Indian Rock), and Dinja van Liere (Hermes N.O.P.) kept Denmark at bay with a total score of 222.392, led by van Liere’s 77.891% in the CDIO5* Grand Prix test.

Denmark, who won the series’ last leg at Compiegne (FRA), finished second with a total score of 220.349. They were just ahead of Germany (219.435), who captured the opening leg in Wellington (USA).

The Netherlands has now won four of the last five editions of this event. They have only lost on three occasions in the last 11 years.

“It’s always nice to win, but to win here in Rotterdam is very special. It was really nice. We also had some tests with some unexpected results. There were some mistakes, there was some tension, but at the end, especially Dinja—she lifted us all up. We won, and that’s super,” said Patrick van der Meer.

The Dutch squad was the only team to have all four of its athletes score above 70%, including its drop score—van Baalen’s 70.435%. But it was team anchor van Liere who really rose the team’s average with the 12-year-old stallion, Hermes N.O.P., her bronze medal-winning partner from the 2022 FEI Dressage World Championships (DEN). Their 77.891% score was not only the highest score put forward by the team, but it was also the highest of the competition.

“This was only our third competition this year, and he just keeps getting better. He’s really a champion in the piaffe and passage, but he’s such a complete horse. He can do it all and has so much talent, said Dinja van Liere. “He can be a clown sometimes and make up his own test, so I have to stay sharp, but I’m so proud of him and so happy with our performance today,” she added.

Both Denmark and Germany kept things close, and the team anchors proved to be the separators. With some horses affected by the venue’s big atmosphere at the multi-disciplinary CHIO Rotterdam, Carina Cassoe Krüth (DEN) and Heiline’s Danciera putting up a rather surprising score of 67.674%, which was ultimately dropped from her team. Isabell Werth (GER) boosted her team with a 76.935% score aboard Wendy de Fontaine, but it was not enough to match The Netherlands’ collective consistency.

A man riding a black horse in a dressage arena.

Edward Gal and Glock’s Total Us, a son of the great Totilas. (FEI/Leanjo de Koster)

It was a particularly triumphant return to team competition for Gal, who took a sabbatical of nearly three years from competitive sport following the Tokyo Olympic Games (JPN). Rotterdam marked just the second international competition for Gal and the 12-year-old stallion Glock’s Total Us since 2021, but they came into the event in strong form, having won both the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special at CDI3* Exloo (NED) in May. The pair received a 73.196% from the judges in Rotterdam, second-best on their team.

“For almost three years, I didn’t ride in any competitions, and I just started again,” Gal said. “I didn’t have to start all over again with [Glock’s Total Us, because] he has so much experience. Now he will settle down a bit in the stable.”

Rotterdam is the penultimate leg of the 2024 FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ series, but for the Dutch, the competition plays an additional role, acting as the final test before the nation selects its team for the upcoming Paris Olympic Games (FRA). With big names on the Dutch roster, van der Meer certainly recognized the talent within the group he put forward to compete Thursday.

“We’re close to [the Olympics in] Paris and making the selection…I’m not only here as the chef d’equipe but also as the sports director, and I’m really happy with all the riders here,” van der Meer said. “When you see the big names here and then being able to win, it gives a great feeling.”

Ahead of the series finale at Falsterbo, Germany leads the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ standings with 30 points. Denmark sits second with 28 points, just ahead of Sweden (27 points).

Full results here.