Spain’s “Dani” Dockx, Double Olympics on USA-Owned Grandioso, A Key In Trans-Atlantic Pipeline

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Grandioso held by Kerrigan Gluch with Kimberly van Kampen and Jose Daniel Martin Dockx at the stallion’s retirement in Wellington, Florida. © 2017 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Nov. 25, 2015

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Jose Daniel Martin Dockx who competed the United States-owned Grandioso for Spain in two Olympics has become a key player in a trans-Atlantic pipeline created by the American owner to benefit dressage in both nations.

“Dani” has a barn full of horses he’s developing for American owner Kimberly van Kampen and spending about a week a month in Wellington, Florida working with riders for Hampton Green Farms. One of the riders is Kerrigan Gluch, at 21 years of age in the group that Kim is separately targeting in a $1 million four-year commitment for American youth rider programs.

She has also long been active in other equestrian activities–as a prime mover in growing the USPRE Association and a partner in the group that owns and organizes the Winter Equestrian Festival and Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida, most visible in her donation of funding for the Van Kampen covered arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

The connection began when Kim was visiting Spain with American dressage rider David de Wispelaere in 1999 and simply “fell in love on sight” with Pure Spanish Horses (P.R.E.).

She first met Dani in 2004 when she bought a horse from him and he would travel to Wellington to help her then in-house trainer Pati Pierucci who was competing Kim’s Grandioso, just beginning American levels at the age of five. Courtney King Dye took over the ride in 2008 and was preparing Grandioso for Grand Prix in early 2010 when a serious accident on another horse ended her top sport career.

Kim initially preferred to give Grandioso to an American rider but “I was afraid, though, that the U.S. would never select a PRE for the team.” Jean Bemelmans, the Spanish team coach at the time, wanted the horse for Spain which she agreed to on condition that Dani would be the rider. Two Olympics, a World Equestrian Games and two European Championships with Dani and Grandioso was retired to Hampton Green’s breeding operation in Michigan.

Grandioso ridden by Daniel Martin Dockx for Spain at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

“I was thinking it was going to be very calm this year not having Grandioso,” Dani told dressage-news.com in a recent visit to work with Kerrigan and Maria Lithander, the Hampton Green trainer.

His schedule is full with riding clinics at home and elsewhere as well as involvement in a program developing youth riders and young PRE horses in Spain, the kind of program that he thinks could be copied in the United States.

But, he said, “my first goal is always Hampton Green.”

In addition to regular visits to the farms in Wellington in winter and Michigan in summer he has 15 Hampton Green PRE horses at his stable in Mijas, Spain. They range in age from 10 years to 2 1/2.

Among them are the PRE stallions Ataturc, seven years old, and Mejerano HGF, a six-year-old son of Grandioso and born at Hampton Green in Michigan. Both were successful in performances in Spain in November.

Kimberly van Kampen with Dani Dockx on Ataturc. © 2017 Lily Forado

He worked with Kerrigan at Michigan in summer with Vaquero and Brio that he said were improving toward the goal of being competitive mounts in the Under-25 division in 2018.

Success in the show ring in Wellington could qualify Kerrigan for Under-25 competitions in Europe. She competed Vaquero in Europe as a young rider in 2016.

The quality is higher and the numbers of competitors in Europe is higher than in the U.S., he said, while there is talent and financial support in America.

A lot of talent from junior and young rider ranks is lost when riders go to college and don’t have to rider any more.

“It’s a shame to spend a lot of your young life riding and working really hard to arrive at a point where you’d love to keep going but don’t have the time,” he said. “The sport loses a lot of talent.”

Kerrigan Gluch on Vaquero HGF, the 2015 reserve USA Young Rider Champion. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Dani expects to have four Hampton Green horses to compete in 2018, all being aimed eventually for international Grand Prix.

Judging in his view has been more accepting and fairer to Iberian horses such as PRE, Lusitano and Andalusian since Fuego ridden by the flamboyant Juan Manuel Muñoz Diaz that was a star of the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and the double Olympic performances of Grandioso.