Belgian domination as Wilm Vermeir makes it a home win by 0.01 seconds in the CSI5* 1.50m presented by Silverspoon
The 2017-edition of Knokke Hippique kicked off on Thursday, with a packed program of top sport in three rings – that was closed off with the five-star 1.50m feature class presented by Silverspoon.
Under the floodlights in the main ring Zoute Plage, the world’s best riders went to work for the top prize of 7500 Euro and valuable Longines World Ranking points in this Table A class against the clock. And, it was home rider Wilm Vermeir that did the job best taking the top honours riding the 11-year-old mare Gentiane de la Pomme (Shindler de Muze x Diamant de Semilly).
As no. three out of the 39 riders to go, Vermeir went all in on his super fast chestnut mare – blazing around the twelve fence track cheered on by the home crowds. Crossing the finish line, the clock showed 64.56 seconds: It looked very hard to beat, and so it turned out.
Vermeir’s compatriot Jérôme Guery came very close though, chasing the time on his 2015 Knokke Hippique Grand Prix winner Papillon Z (Perhaps V Berkenbroeck x Cassini I). This time around he just missed out however; looking up at the score board there was a difference of a mere 0.01 seconds and Guery had to settle for runner-up position behind his team mate.
“I did the first line on one more stride, compared to many other riders that took one stride less there – but then after that I started. My mare is really fast, she wins a lot,” said Vermeir of Gentiane de la Pomme. “Lately she has been in very good form, but was a bit unlucky – so we knew that it was going to come when the luck would turn. And, today luck was on my side with Jérôme being only 0.01 seconds slower,” smiled the happy winner.
Gentiane de la Pomme has been with Vermeir since she was six, and the two know each other very well by now. “She is unbelievably competitive; a trier and a fighter,” said Vermeir.
“It is so nice to win here on home soil,” said the 38-year-old rider. “It is an amazing show, and I know Stephan Conter very well so I am really happy to be here.”
Third place in this class went to Laura Kraut (USA) – 2008 Olympic team gold medallist – riding Confu (Contact ME x Cambridge) to a time of 65.99 seconds. Fourth was Philippe Rozier (FRA) – 2016 team gold medallist in Rio, and fifth was living legend Michael Whitaker (GBR).
Earlier in the day, Stephex Stables’ own Petronella Andersson (SWE) kicked off Knokke Hippique in style with a win in the 1.40m two phase competition presented by Riverwoods. Riding the 19-year-old veteran Mouse (Limbus x Grundyman XX), Petronella outclassed the rest of the field with a super fast round in phase two to stop the clock at 26.81 seconds. Runner-up was young talent Lisa Nooren (NED) on VDL Groep Urane de Talma (Argentinus x Landor S) who clocked in the time of 27.01 seconds, while third place went to Constant Van Paesschen who was the best of the Belgians riding Cavalla (Calvaro Z x Clinton) in 27.14 seconds.
It was close to another Stephex-win for the hosts in the CSI5* 1.45m presented by De Sutter Naturall, but Jaroslaw Skrzyczynski (POL) snatched the victory from Zoe Conter (BEL). Almost half-way into the class, Conter took the lead aboard the wonderful Dragonfly de Longchamps (Clinton x Toulon) but was immediately followed by Skrzyczynski on the super quick Quintella (Sanvaro (Os) x Baloubet du Rouet) who bettered her time by more than five seconds. Later on, Laura Kraut slotted into third aboard the lovely 8-year-old Curious George (Codex One x Dutch Capitol) – rounding off the podium.
Results from all classes can be found via this link.
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