Belgians back on top in Saturday’s five-star competitions
Fast, faster, Verlooy in the CSI5* Championship of Knokke
presented by DEUTSCHE BANK
In one of the fastest competitions of the year, Belgium’s own Jos Verlooy flew to victory in Saturday night’s CSI5* 1.50m Championship of Knokke presented by DEUTSCHE BANK.
Fifteen out of 39 riders moved forward to round two of the Championship, and with eighteen clears over the first-round track the three slowest pairs were kept out. On a warm summer night in Knokke, the horses and riders returned under the floodlights in the main ring Zoute Plage and the crowds were about to be up for a real treat.
As fifth to go in round two, Olympic gold medallist Laura Kraut (USA) made a brilliant inside turn to the penultimate upright – a move few would have thought was even possible, but Deauville S (Diamant de Semilly x Lux Z) answered. Crossing the finish line the two had taken the lead in 45.95 seconds, which looked more or less impossible to beat.
Three riders later, Verlooy would make the seemingly impossible possible however. Aboard the only 9-year-old Japatero Vdm (Eldorado van de Zeshoek x For Pleasure), Verlooy set off in top gear and copied Kraut’s turn to perfection and then went flat out on the last stretch to wild cheers from the crowds that saw their home hero push the time down to 45.74 seconds as he came sprinting through the finish line.
“My horse is so fast” Verlooy said. “I had my own plan today. I heard that Laura went right and then left to the second last fence, and that it saved a lot of time. My horse is a bit inexperienced but I thought to myself that I was going to take the risk, it is a home show so I decided to do everything and see what would happen. And it worked out as planned and I can’t thank my horse enough! He is inexperienced, but he really did the job!” smiled the happy winner.
“I have ridden Japatero since he was five, and now he starts to get ready for the bigger level – even to win,” Verlooy explained. “This was a very nice victory for him, he really deserves it – he has a lot of capacity and today he showed what he really can do.”
Fresh from his CSIO5* Grand Prix victory in Rotterdam last weekend with Caracas, as well as his Nations Cup victory for Team Belgium with Igor – Verlooy is on a winning streak and confident ahead of Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix at Knokke Hippique. “Caracas is on form, so I will just ride as good as possible and try to keep it going – but also enjoy the moment as much as I can!” concluded Verlooy.
The American ladies were on fire this evening, with Margie Goldstein-Engle really hunting the leading time on Dicas (Diarado x Cassini I) but this time around the 60-year-old veteran had to settle for the third place behind Verlooy – who is 38 years her junior – as well as Kraut.
Earlier in the day, the CSI5* 1.45m competition presented by TAITTINGER went to Belgium’s own Gregory Wathelet and the 9-year-old gelding Sandero (Sandro Boy x Cassini I). With a time of 63.42 seconds in this speed class counting for the world ranking, Wathelet left his compatriot Oliver Philippaerts on H&M Forever D Arco Van Ter Linden (Udarco x Tenor Manciais) behind him in runner-up position with over a second separating the two. Steve Guerdat (SUI) finished third aboard Epicor De Gandarinha (Lupicor x Quincajou III).