‘My success would be impossible without him’: Daniel Deusser credits groom Sean Lynch in his rise to the top

  • German showjumper Daniel Deusser handed over the baton for the Rolex Grand Slam to Geneva winner Martin Fuchs at the weekend, but the world number two has enjoyed a tremendous year with his top mare Killer Queen VDM, while his great partner Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z has also recently returned from injury.

    But Daniel credits all his success to the big team behind him, including his elite groom of seven years, Sean Lynch.

    “The sport is now so complicated and close together, and I travel so much that my team at home is just as important as my athlete in the saddle,” he says. “I trust Sean one hundred per cent, which is very important when he is travelling with our top horses. He does everything with the horses, and he is a very important person in my career. My success would be impossible without him. He loves the horses, it can be a 24-hour job and if something happens to one of them, he is there for them and he is so dedicated to them.”

    Daniel Deusser and Killer Queen VDM at the Tokyo Olympics

    Aachen grand prix: ‘a very special’

    Looking back at his victory on home soil in Aachen when he became the live contender for the Rolex Grand Slam, Daniel says: “It is something very special to win and very different to winning another grand prix. A lot of people wanted to do interviews and photo shoots with me; I really enjoyed the whole experience. But unfortunately, the horses don’t know that I have won one of the best grands prix in the world, so we got back to reality quite quickly.

    “As a German, to win at CHIO Aachen was amazing. Aachen is so special to me, and the crowd is fully supporting you. When you come into the arena it is very loud, but the moment the bell goes, it is silent in the stadium – it is a very special feeling.”

    While Daniel’s other top horse Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z missed much of the summer through injury, he is particularly excited about two younger horses he has coming through.

    “They are both very exciting prospects for the future,” he says. “One is a nine-year-old, called Scuderia 1918 Mr. Jones, we bought him two years ago as a seven-year-old. We have very big hopes for him for the next couple of years. However, due to Covid-19, he lost a year of experience, as he did not do very many shows, so he is a very young nine-year-old.

    “The second horse is called In Time and [before Geneva] I had never actually taken this horse to a show myself. One of our Stephex riders [Kendra Brinkop] has competed him in the young horse classes. I would like to get some experience on him and get to learn more about each other. I think he has a lot of potential.”

    In preparation for the indoor season, Daniel trains over different distances and lines.

    “For example, in the indoor season you see a lot of three- or four-stride distances, which you hardly ever see in a big outdoor ring like Aachen,” he explains. “That is something you have to train, but in general most of our horses are well educated and old enough with good experience that you do that one or two times before the indoor season and that is enough. It is more of a fitness programme and they only see the big fences during the shows.”

    ‘I loved to watch John Whitaker and Franke Sloothaak’

    Scott Brash remains the only rider to have won the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping, but Daniel says it is “definitely a goal” for the next few years.

    “Winning the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen was a goal that I had for many years, really ever since I was a child,” says Daniel, who has also won the World Cup Final with Cornet D’Amour (pictured below) in 2014.

    “When I was a child and I went to the big shows to watch the world’s best show jumpers, there were only two combinations that I really loved to watch. One was John Whitaker and Milton, the other was Franke Sloothaak and Walzerkönig. I was very lucky a couple of years later that I got the opportunity to work for Franke Sloothaak for four and a half years and I’m still in contact with him. Even though he lives far away from me, he is still a major support to me and gives me advice over the phone. He watches all of my rounds, and I must admit he is a huge part to my success.”

    One thing Daniel has learned from Franke is patience.

    “He was very quiet and cool on the horse, even if the horse had been very difficult during the week, and he was very patient with it and they always jumped well in the shows,” he says. “If you are too young and too motivated it can be very difficult. I think it is very important to just be patient and learn from your mistakes in the past. You need to get the basics right, both for yourself as rider and your horse, in order to be successful.”

    Daniel is one of the most competitive riders on the circuit and his phenomenal results have helped him to the world number one spot, although he currently sits at number two, behind Sweden’s Peder Fredricson.

    “There is just something in me that likes to go a step further and likes to win,” he says. “As showjumpers, we go to a lot of shows, and there are usually a lot of competitors in the classes, with only ever one winner. So, you do not win all the time, being second or third is not a drama, but when you don’t win you will always re-live the round and wonder what you could have done better. Even though you don’t always win, the motivation on a Monday morning is always there. I learn from what could have gone better, and I see each show as more experience, so that when I go to the next show I will do better.”

    With thanks to Rolex Grand Slam.

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