In a Grand Prix full of unexpected twists and turns, it was Edward Levy (FRA) and the 12-year-old mare Rebeca LS (Rebozo La Silla x Cassini I) that went off with the victory at Knokke Hippique Summer Circuit on Saturday night.
Nobody expected Saturday night’s Grand Prix presented by Deutsche Bank – full of top names – to have no clears, but that was how things unfolded. The time allowed proved to be a big challenge for the horses and riders in this 1.55m Grand Prix. In the end, six pairs jumped clear on the fences but notched up a time-penalty – and those who managed to stay inside the time allowed did so on the expense of one rail or more. Very unlucky was home hero Rik Hemeryck (BEL), who was clear and inside the time all the way to the last oxer – but saw the front rail roll out of the cups and his clear round vaporise.
Without clears, and six horse-and-rider combinations on a time penalty – the jump-off was reserved for the latter. With the flood lights turned on, in the warm summer night – the temperature rose again in Knokke as the jump-off got underway.
“When we walked the course, it actually walked really nice,” Levy said after the class. “Big for sure, for a three-star – it was tough. After walking the course, I thought there would be six-seven clears. The time was short though. In the end, I think it was nice for everybody that there was not just one clear, but rather a nice jump-off after the first round.”
First out over the shortened course, was home rider Kelly Vandousselaere (BEL) on Biarritz des Hauts Droits (Nabab de Reve x Renville) – who rolled out the rail on the sun chair-upright to settle for four faults. Angelie Von Essen (SWE) also had a pole down, as was the case for Luis Magnasco (ARG) who had an agonising fault on the last oxer.
Then it was time for Levy. He set Rebeca LS in top gear from the beginning, and made it clear from the outset that he was going to take the risk needed to win. With the tightest of turns to the skinny upright flanked by two giant sun chairs, Levy kept up the pace to the remaining three fences – producing a beautiful round in 45.63 seconds.
Another young and talented rider was to follow Levy – the soon-to-be 20-year-old Eve Jobs (USA) on Venue d’Fees des Hazalles (President x Alcatraz). The two took a slightly more cautious approach, slotting in behind Levy with a clear round in 46.51 seconds.
Last to go was Stephex Stables’ own Jonna Ekberg (SWE), who rode the only 9-year-old Destiny Van Schore (Ugano Sitte x Kannan) to a clear round in 48.03 seconds – taking the third place.
Afterwards, Levy spoke about the surprising development in the class: “After my round, I thought ‘Ah, one time fault but still she was great’. After I trotted Rebeca LS off, my groom took her back to the stables and I went to watch. When I saw there were just eight left and still no clears, I thought ‘Maybe I call my groom to saddle up the mare, because you never know’. It was original, but it was a nice class tonight,” smiled the 23-year-old French rider.
“Rebeca LS is a fantastic horse, she is owned by Brianne Goutal and I got the chance to ride her at the beginning of the year,” Levy said about his winning partner. “She did a few five-star Grand Prix classes already and she is a really nice horse. Tonight, it was high level sport, so I am really happy she could win this Grand Prix – and for her owner Brianne as well.”