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Harrie Smolders: Show Jumping’s “Nice Guy”

Some people are just born lucky; others make their own luck. This past May, Harrie Smolders achieved his life’s ambition – after a decade of hovering in the FEI world ranking’s top 25, the “nice guy” of Dutch show jumping reached the pinnacle: World No. 1. Harrie took a fairly pragmatic route, starting out on a pony on the family farm, dabbling in dressage and eventing before locking in on show jumping. Seventeen years ago he won his first international medal as a Young Rider and then in 2002 secured a prime position as stable jockey for one of Europe’s foremost horse dealers. In a trading yard, great horses come and go (he rode Beezie Madden’s Authentic, for example) and sales take precedence over personal performance goals. But good things come to those who persevere. Sixteen years on, Harrie still commutes daily to Axel Verlooy’s stable in Grobbendonk, but his…

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