Born in Bussum as the son of a trainer, Jan van Dooyeweerd Sr. was predestined for a career in harness racing. He became an apprentice to trainer Willem Leeuwenkamp when he was 16 years old. It was there that Jan learned the craftsmanship that is training harness racing horses. Jan opened his first stables at Duindigt Racecourse, Wassenaar, in 1956. He worked from there for six years and developed a preference for this track, which he describes as the most selective and honest. It is in this period that he married his wife Riet and became the father of four children. In 1963 the family moved to their current training facilities at Spieringweg in Zwaanshoek.
Horses like Double Six M, Chantiago, Marseille, Tabor, Eland, Hardy Regina, Ybe van Papenhofl, as well as the famous Jojo Buitenzorg, contributed each in their own way to victory in five championships. It is well known that Jojo Buitenzorg played a prominent role in Jan’s life. Together they reached international fame, but the greatest successes where born at Duindigt Racecourse. About his most beautiful win, he told the following anecdote in a interview in Paardensport in Ren en Draf from 1992: “Every time one of our horses wins I am a happy man, especially when you’ve put a lot of time and effort in that horse. There is one win that makes me smile whenever I think about it. It was with Jojo Buitenzorg in a meeting with the Belgiums at Duindigt in 1971. My horse galloped at the start which eliminated our chances of winning, or so I thought. We were miles behind the field and I tried to pull up at the exit gates, but that plan failed. Jojo had seen the other horses and wanted to catch up. “Well, go for it then” I thought and he went. We reached the field around the last corner and with an incredible last sprint we beat the Belgium favourite. The crowd went absolutely wild! You’ll never forget things like that.”
From this period also the famous photo series where Jan van Dooyeweerd and Jan Wagenaar shake hands after the finish of a bloodcurdling race between their respective top horses, Jojo and Henri Buitenzorg. This was the golden era of Dutch harness and flat racing and Jan van Dooyeweerd played a prominent role. His stable ruled the scene in that period. The statistics of his successes provide a good overall picture of his influence in Dutch harness racing.
As a driver Jan van Dooyeweerd gained a total of 2,251 victories, with stakes winnings of 6 million Guilders. He was crowned Dutch champion five times, the first time in 1961 and the last time in 1972. In 1973 he became reserve champion at the European Championships for drivers. His list of honours is long in the Dutch Classics. We see his name twice as the winner of the Dutch Horse Championships with Jojo Buitenzorg, seven times he became Dutch Champion, twice with Eland and twice with Jojo. As a rider he was congratulated four times by Prince Bernhard for winning the Gouden Zweep (Golden Whip). As a trainer he won this beloved race with Ybe van Papenhoef. Other victories include six times the H. Van Wickevoort Crommelin Memorial (twice with Jojo, and once with Torpedo Fortuna and Zeus Boekelte amongst others), three times the Sweepstakes for Fillies, four times the Sweepstakes for Colts, and last but not least he won the Derby as a trainer with Ybe van Papenhoef and his apprentice Egbert de Visser. It bothered him that he didn’t drive the horse himself back then, as it is a well known secret that winning the derby was a unaccomplished dream of his.
Van Dooyeweerd was the head of a close nit harness racing family. His son Bert was a trainer and driver for years, but chose to pursue his career in the betting industry. Jan jr. stepped up as the successor of his fathers’ legacy as a trainer, where he could count on the unconditional support of his legendary father. This also extended into the management of Dooyeweerd Racing Stables.
Jan jr. became the new generations’ trainer for the family’s racing stables. Together with his dad he worked hard and slowly but surely took over the business. Which included importing the likes of Meadow Wingfield and Ima Crown, who gave the chauvinistic Van Dooyeweerd an international aspect.
There were multiple successes in Germany, one of them being named track Champion at Dinslaken with Eventide who won 4 races in a row twice in the 90’s. Jan jr. first victory in France was with Meadow Wingfield in Caen.
Some of his greatest achievements came with the great campaigner Optimistic. The Wickevoort Crommelin Memorial, the Dutch Championships and Dutch Horse Championships were all won with Optimistic. The biggest victory was the win at Vincennes, Paris. From this, the stable began racing their horses in France. This was followed by many wins, evidence of which can be found in the coffee room.