As last to go, Francois Mathy Jr. (BEL) snatched the victory from his compatriot Gudrun Patteet in Thursday night’s CSI5* 1.50m class presented by LA RESERVE at Knokke Hippique.
Last year’s Rolex Grand Prix-winners Gudrun Patteet and Sea Coast Pebbles Z (Picasso x Flamenco de Semilly) were first to go in this speed class counting for the world ranking, and set the time to beat to 61.76 seconds.
That looked close to impossible to match, as one rider after the other left the ring without being able to catch the Belgian rider. Closest came Olympic team gold medallist Laura Kraut (USA) on Deauville S (Diamant de Semilly x Lux Z), that clocked the time of 63.04 seconds.
That was however, until Francois Mathy Jr. and Casanova de ’L Herse (Ugano Sitte x Kashmir Van Schuttershof) entered the ring as the final pair in the competition. Putting the powerful grey in top gear, Francois Mathy Jr. went to work with determination and precision pushing the time down to an incredible 60.90 seconds.
“My horse is really competitive, and in this kind of classes he has been winning quite a few this year already so I was quite confident. I rode my round, and luckily enough I was fast enough to win. I feel sorry for Gudrun, because I know it’s not so nice when you lead from the beginning and then get beaten at the end but I am really happy with the way my horse jumped,” said Francois Mathy Jr.
“It’s fantastic,” commented Mathy Jr. about being at Knokke Hippique. “It’s a special place. It’s a five-star in Belgium so it is always really important to be able to compete well here. It is always a high level of competitors and at the same time it is nice because we can take students and our young horses and do some great work at all levels.”
Earlier on in the day, it was a home win in the CSI5* 1.45m Table A against the clock presented by MAX SND’L with Christophe Vanderhasselt (BEL) and the 10-year-old mare Caroline T.Z. (Contendro x Diamant de Semilly) on top.
Blazing around to a time of 69.36 seconds, Vanderhasselt was over two seconds faster than runner-up Rene Lopez (COL) on Destiny’s Child (Sandro Boy x Corland). Third place went to Kevin Staut – 2016 team gold medallist at the Olympic Games in Rio – who rode Ayade de Septon Et HDC (Wandor van de Mispelaere x Belle d’Avril du Mazy) to a time of 72.70.
The five-stars riders warmed up with a 1.40m class presented by KNOKKE OUT. Also here, it was a home rider that was the fastest as Karel Cox (BEL) and the 10-year-old gelding Kill Bill Max (Toulon x Quintus d’09) clocked the winning time of 27.14 in the second phase to take home the top honours for the hosts.
It was tight on top; in 27.26 seconds followed Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) with his veteran Carlo 273 (Contender x Cascavelle) while Niels Bruynseels (BEL) secured two home heroes on the podium when finishing third on Kinky Van ‘t Heike (Epleaser Van T Heike x Grandeur) in 27.36.