The Belgian riders came strong in force to the opening day of the second week of Knokke Hippique 2019, and Dominique Hendrickx gave it the best possible conclusion when winning the feature class of the day – the CSI5* 1.50m presented by La Reserve.
Home riders had been dominating Thursday’s classes, and there would be no exception to that in the last competition of the day. Coming in as no. thirteen in the order, as the sun set over the main ring Zoute Plage, Hendrickx was in a league of his own when blazing around the track on Vintadge de La Roque (Kannan x Galoubet A) to take the lead in 58.24 seconds. No one else could get close to Hendrickx’s time, runners-up Bertram Allen (IRL) and GK Casper (Canto 16 x Quantum) had recorded the time of 60.28 seconds prior to the Belgian rider’s speed demonstration. Third place went to Allen’s compatriot Cian O’Connor and Irenice Horta (Vigo d’Arsouilles STX x Diamant de Semilly), after stopping the clock at 60.32 seconds. Francois Mathy Jr. secured two Belgian riders within the top five as he followed in fourth, while Scott Brash (GBR) finished fifth.
„My plan was to be as fast as possible,” Hendrickx commented on his round. “But I also wanted to be clever about it, and to be clear without messing up this class and the following days. I had a really good beginning already over the three first fences, where I got my first distance and a short turn. I knew I was fast, because my horse is a fast horse, but on this level with these riders, you never know. I see them on television every week and I know how fast they can be – so I was a little bit worried.“
„My horse is a 10-year-old gelding by Kannan x Galoubet. I have been riding him for a month and a half, I think this is only the fourth show I do with him, so the future looks really good,“ Hendrickx smiled. “I plan to ride Koriano in the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday, and Vintadge is going to jump again tomorrow and on Saturday.“
The Irish riders opened strong in the CSI5* classes. In the CSI5* 1.40m Sport Vlaanderen Prize, Peter Moloney on the 11-year-old mare Steyburn (Careful x Bold Indian) finished first ahead of his compatriot Mark McAuley on Engerupgaards Cezanne (Balou du Rouet x Lucky Light) with 0.20 seconds separating the two riders. Third place went to Frederic Vernaet, who was best on behalf of the hosts riding Gin Duidam (Quidam de Revel x Corofino) – 0.30 seconds behind the winning time.
Darragh Kenny continued the Irish success in the CSI5* 1.45m STX Horseboxes Prize, when taking the top honours with the 9-year-old Billy Dorito (Billy Mexico x Vechta). It was a close call though, as home rider Francois Mathy Jr. followed only 0.03 seconds behind on Hello Diamant (Diamant de Semilly x Stakkato) while third place went to Spain’s Pilar Lucrecia Cordon on Seawillow (Sir Satchmo x Stakkato Gold) 1.74 seconds behind the winning time.
“It was big enough and not so many clear rounds in the class. My horse Billy Dorito
jumped really good today, was careful and although I did not go too fast I made the time quite easy,” Kenny commented afterwards. “The venue here is fantastic, Stephan did an amazing job – I think it’s one of the best places in Europe to come and ride.”