More than 70 years alive and kicking

In 1948, the CHIO Rotterdam took place for the first time at Kralingse Bos. It is thus the oldest international top sports event in Rotterdam.

The Beginning (1948)

In 1948, at the initiative of Mr. Job Dura, an international competition was organized for the first time. Dura wanted to give the city an event and said to the then-director of the Rotterdamsche Manège, Adolf Klebe: "Klebe, shall we start an international competition?"

During the very first CHIO Rotterdam, a team jumping competition took place. The Netherlands emerged victorious. Jaap Rijks rode Master, the horse owned by Job Dura. "The first CHIO Rotterdam took place shortly after the Olympic Games in London. Master never refused, but during the 1948 Olympics, he refused to jump over the ditch. In Rotterdam, Master jumped as usual, and we achieved victory with the Dutch team," said Rijks. Prize money for the winner was 150 guldens! Jacques Schoufour, honorary chairman of the CHIO Rotterdam, remembers those times well: "That prize money was usually spent on drinks the same evening."


In the early 1950s, electronic timekeeping was used for the first time, and His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands competed in both the Argentine and Mexican teams, finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively. In 1953, Germany participated in the team competition for the first time. Germany would thereafter never be absent, except in 1966 when the swamp fever prevailed.

On Friday, July 20, 1956, the Sociëteit of the Rotterdamsche Manège was turned into a desolate heap by a raging fire. Job Dura, who could see the fire and all emergency services from his window, feared that he could forget about the CHIO Rotterdam, which was scheduled to take place barely a month later. Dura had a director's cabin from his company placed on the site of the burned-out Sociëteit: "This will be furnished in a representative manner so that we will miss the loss of the old Jockey Club as little as possible now and during the CHIO later!" The temporary accommodation was nicknamed the "Kippenren" (Chicken Run). In 1959, the European Championship for female riders was won by Ann Townsend on Bandit IV during the CHIO.


In 1961, the Rotterdam business community constructed the first permanent grandstand. The dressage program was enriched with the first Grand Prix Freestyle, also marking the start of Dr. Rainer Klimke's dressage career who won the Prijs van de Rijbaan with Arcadius. In 1962, the first CDIO took place, followed by the European Junior Show Jumping Championship in 1963 and the European Senior Show Jumping Championship in 1967.

Commercialization also made its entrance, with the first advertising boards appearing on the premises.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the CHIO Rotterdam was awarded the European Show Jumping Championship in 1967. In 1969, Harry Wouters v. d. Oudenweijer with Abadan became the first Dutchman to win the Grand Prix.

In the summer of 1970, around a hundred thousand hippies chose the Kralingse Bos as the European answer to Woodstock for the Holland Pop Festival. In the 1970s, riders like John and Michael Whitaker and Piet Raijmakers made their debut at the CHIO Rotterdam. "It was always a party in Rotterdam," said Raijmakers. "Back then, we didn't ride for the money but to see who could stay up the longest at night and ride the best during the day." In 1979, the European Championships took place again during the CHIO Rotterdam. Johan Heins won the Grand Prix with Argonaut.


In 1980, the Olympic Games in Moscow were boycotted, and the CHIO Rotterdam was able to host the alternative Games, where Hugo Simon won with Gladstone. Jacques Schoufour had become chairman, and the CHIO Rotterdam flourished. The scale, prize money, and sponsorship funds continued to increase. The equestrian sport became more professionalized. Even after Her Majesty Queen Beatrix ascended to the throne, she remained a loyal visitor of the CHIO Rotterdam. In the early 1980s, she brought her sons to Rotterdam. The fifteen-year-old Prince Willem Alexander emerged as the manager of a mini betting office.

Jos Lansink won the Grand Prix in 1988 with Felix. In 1989, the combination placed third during the European Championships, which again took place in Rotterdam.


The last decade of the twentieth century was not easy. The costs of the event skyrocketed, the demands of the international equestrian federation became much stricter, and the Rotterdam politics were not favorable towards the CHIO. Expansion was necessary. The CHIO wanted to cut down 51 trees, of which it was expected that most would die within five years anyway, and wanted to replant four times as many. This led to turmoil in the city council, and the necessary expansion did not happen. Nevertheless, the successor of Schoufour, chairman Willem Cordia, maintained good relations with the city government and, along with his board, continued to work on the growth of the CHIO. To make matters worse, the permanent grandstand went up in flames. A bright spot: Anky van Grunsven ushered in a new era for dressage.

The new millennium (from 2000 onwards)

In 2004, the Rotterdam Nations Cup became part of a new competition, the Samsung Super League. Only the best competitions in the world were allowed to host a Super League event. Gert Jan Bruggink won the Grand Prix of the Rotterdam Port in 2004. After Dick Verbeek, Frans Lavooij became chairman of the CHIO Rotterdam. He made a number of drastic decisions. Alongside Emile Hendrix as director of show jumping, Tineke Bartels was hired as director of dressage. The grass surface on the main arena disappeared, replaced by an All-Weather footing, and dressage moved to the main arena. During the first Grand Prix on this new All-Weather footing, Anky van Grunsven rode Salinero to a new world record. The CHIO Rotterdam secured a title sponsor that attached its name to the event, LSI Project Investment. Edward Gal made his debut with the black wonder stallion Totilas, giving both judges and spectators goosebumps.

In addition to equestrian sport, entertainment in the Stroodorp became one of the main attractions of the CHIO Rotterdam. When Marco Borsato performed, the audience tried to enter the venue through the manure heap of the Rotterdamsche Manege.

In recent years (since 2010)

The professionalization of the CHIO Rotterdam continues, with growing interest from the business community, and athletes expressing their appreciation through the elections for the equestrian event of the year. Plans to build a new permanent grandstand become a reality, leading to the allocation of the European Dressage Championships in 2011. Adelinde Cornelissen becomes European Champion. In August 2011, His Royal Highness Prince Willem Alexander opens the Grandstand, the new luxury multifunctional facility. In 2012, Marc Houtzager wins the Longines Grand Prix Port of Rotterdam with Tamino. Honorary Chairman Jacques Schoufour passes away in 2014 at the age of 86. In 2016, Rob Ehrens finally succeeds in winning the Nations Cup team competition in Rotterdam with the Dutch team. Also, during the dressage competition in Rotterdam for the FEI Nations Cup, the Netherlands, under the leadership of Johan Rockx, dominates. The Netherlands and Rotterdam bid for the European Championships in Show Jumping, Dressage, and Para-Dressage in 2019.