25.11.2021

Prudence meets Power

At last! Having finished second twice in the past, he finally achieved his goal this year: After riding to victory in the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHIO Aachen 2021, Daniel Deußer’s dream of a lifetime came true. We visited Germany’s cur - rent top show-jumper, who lives and works in Belgium as Head Rider at the Stephex Stables.

The bay mare looks into the camera attentively, her ears pricked forward, her hooves accurately placed next to her rider’s feet. Her bay coat gleaming in the autumn sun. Even the quacking of the circling ducks and the rustling of the falling leaves doesn’t distract her. Killer Queen VDM poses for the flashing cameras. Anyone, who sees the 11-year-old mare stood there so relaxed, can’t quite believe it when her rider describes her as being “wild und aggressive”. This is also what earned her the nickname “Killer”. This so relaxed moment in the heart of the picturesque greenery of the Stephex Stables is a rare occurrence. This becomes evident shortly afterwards, when the mare bucks ferociously under the saddle to release her surplus energy. Daniel Deußer takes it with a pinch of salt. “I have to curb her temperament at home, but at shows I profit from the fact that she always wants to do everything faster and better than all the other horses,” the 40-year old said about his sports partner. He knows he can rely on her when it comes down to it. Totally focused. Instinctively ready to do her best. This was also the case at the CHIO in Aachen, when she carried her rider to victory in the Rolex Grand Prix. “Every rider wants to have his name inscribed on the winners’ board at the entrance,” Daniel Deußer stated. He came very close twice after finishing second in 2015 and in 2019. “I am incredibly grateful that I have finally managed to win. That was a very special moment.” And he knows whom he has to thank for that. “Killer Queen loves the Aachen Soers, her achievements there as a young horse were already proof of that. With her my hope at having a horse I could make it to the top with grew.”

Indeed, a most justified hope. The mare was seven when Daniel Deußer started riding her. The first encounter between the two of them may have been rather turbulent, but nevertheless promising. “Her energy and scope impressed me,” he recalls and adds with a laugh: “However, the handling left quite a lot to be desired.” Back then, the rider from Wiesbaden was Head Rider at the yard of Stephan Conter. Then in 2012, after years of riding for Franke Sloothaak and subsequently for the Dutch trading stables of Jan Tops, Daniel Deußer found a new job here in Meise, a city that lies north of Brussels. And he also found new top horses – first and foremost the Westphalian-bred gelding, Cornet d’Amour, who added numerous victories to his career and brought him the final breakthrough allowing him to join the ranks of the equestrian world elite. “I wouldn’t be where I am now without him,” Daniel Deußer said about the gelding, whom he won the World Cup Final with in 2014. And whilst the ambitious grey gelding is meanwhile enjoying his retirement in the garden of the Conter family, his rider of many years has established himself on the scene of top equestrian sport and has led the world ranking list several times. For him that is “a fantastic feeling and confirmation that as a team we are doing a good job and that the path we have chosen with the horses is the right one.”

However, Daniel Deußer is not somebody, who pins success down to victories and ranking lists alone. Beyond the top performances, he is a straightforward and modest rider, who is extremely prudent and careful. A rider, who continually strives to learn something new and further develop. And so, for him he also considers it to be an achievement if his daily work results in a progress in the training of a young horse: “On the one hand it is the shows, but on the other hand schooling horses that make my profession so special.” And the Stephex Stables offer him an optimal infrastructure for his training activities, which he carries out with a huge amount of patience and untiring diligence. His stable block, which accommodates 13 show horses, really is a small oasis on the spacious equestrian centre, which is famous throughout Europe for its breeding products, sales horses and equestrian shows. Daniel Deußer himself lives with his wife Caroline and daughter Stella in Rijmenam, near Mechelen. The family man travels the approx. 30 kilometres from there to Meise every day, fully aware that the location offers him the best prerequisites for his sport. And he makes good use of that, after all he has set himself ambitious goals. After his triumph in the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen, his personal Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping journey has begun. The series unites the CHIO Aachen, the CHI Geneva in Switzerland, The Dutch Masters in the Netherlands and the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in Canada into a battle for the most prestigious trophy of the international show jumping sport – and Daniel Deußer is the current contender for the title. “I am aware how difficult it is to win a further jumping class of this series,” he admits. “But if it is possible, then with a horse like Killer Queen.” Whilst he is saying this, the mare is having another of her relaxed moments. Her eyes half closed, she is enjoying the warming beams of the sun that are falling on her coat through the stable window. It seems like she is gathering new energy – up until that moment next time when she has to fall back on her killer instinct and put in a top performance in the ring. If it is down to her rider, this should ideally happen at the CHI Geneva in December.