London | United Kingdom
Harrie Smolders is a Dutch Olympian with riding in his blood. His passion for riding stems back from his childhood after, at a young age, he was given his first pony by accident. Harry, who recently turned 38 years old, actually inherited his sister’s pony as a child, when it turned out that she was too big for the animal. Rather than exchanging it for a larger pony, Harrie’s father instead encouraged him to ride it. From that moment on, Harrie took to riding like a duck to water. He rode regularly and showed a keen interest in other sports as well, including football.
He was a very athletically gifted young boy, though initially he wasn’t at all that interested in equestrian jumping. He instead focussed more on eventing competitions and dressage. It was clear that Smolders was a prospect to watch, as he regularly won local events and contests. By the time he was 16, Harrie was forced to choose between his two passions – football or jumping. He chose jumping, and the rest, as they say, is history. Recently he debuted as the Longines world number 1 and appears to be in the form of his life.
Harrie Smolders’ Best Year Yet
Harrie Smolders recently overtook Kent Farrington to become the Longines world number one. Smolders made his Olympic debut in Rio, back in 2016 and has progressively gotten better and better as the months have gone by. Though he impressed in 2016, it wasn’t until 2017 that people really started to take note of Smolders. It’s not surprising either, as 2017 will go down as one of the most dominant years in the sport and certainly of Smolder’s career thus far. Harrie looked unstoppable as he took an individual silver with Don VHP Z at the 2017 Longines FEI European championships held in Gothenburg. That wasn’t all however, as he then went on to clinch victory for his native country at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final in the city of Barcelona, Spain. Not long after that, he was named rider of the year in the Netherlands and won two more Longines competitions: The 2017 Longines Global Champions Tour as well as the 2017 Longines Global Champions League.
If there’s one thing the sporting world loves, it’s a good rivalry. Well, for the last couple of years, Harrie Smolders and Kent Farrington have certainly had that. For over a year, Farrington held onto the coveted number one spot though Smolders was always snapping at his heels. Farrington held the number 1 spot since May, though with 3158 points, Smolders was finally able to overtake his long-time sporting rival and clinch the coveted number 1 ranking for the very first time in his career. Farrington unfortunately sustained a broken leg back in Feb, though he is now well on the road to recovery and it won’t be long until the two are once again jockeying (pardon the pun) for position.
For now, however, it is the Flying Dutchman, Harrie Smolders, who is the man to beat, so keep your eyes peeled as the next few months should be incredibly interesting and exciting.