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Willem Greve speeds to the win in CSI3* Top Series Grand Prix presented by BMW

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The last week of the Summer Circuit at Knokke Hippique kicked off on Wednesday, and on Saturday night it was time for the CSI3* 1.55m Top Series Grand Prix presented by BMW – also the final competition counting towards the Top Series Leading Rider Award.

With 61 800 Euro in total amount of prize money as well as a one-year lease of a brand new STX 2 Horse Truck – with a total worth of 19.788,40 Euro – to the Leading Rider of the Top Series up for grabs, it was a tough course that was presented to the 59 riders lined up for the class. With fourteen fences, including a triple combination and a double, it was a long track that asked many questions of the horses and riders. In the end only nine went clear, and no less than twelve riders chose to retire along the way.

“The first round was difficult enough, and technical. Everywhere you really needed to know what you wanted to do with the distances,” commented the winner Willem Greve after the class.

It was not until no. 15 in the ring that the first clear would be delivered, and it came from Sayre Happy (USA). The American rider would later be followed by eight more, moving on to the jump-off under the floodlights with the crowds once again creating a wonderful atmosphere at Knokke Hippique as the sun went down.

The jump-off track went all the way around the big Zoute Plage ring, finishing with a long gallop across the short-side before a stretch up the long-side waited with penultimate oxer to the last vertical as the final challenges.

Happy set out as first to go in the jump-off, and produced another lovely clear round on Dolinn (Cardento x Lux) to stop the clock at 53.03 seconds. It was a steady round however, and looked possible to beat.

The second clear came from Ben Maher (GBR) on Mtf Madame X (Continio x Corland) who went flat out after the third last upright, however outside the lake on the short-side and then not once pulling back on the last stretch bringing the time down to 46.78 seconds as he crossed the finish line.

Both Daniel Deusser (GER) and Shane Breen (IRL) went inside the lake to the penultimate oxer, but had different mistakes on the last upright – however illustrating that their choice was the way if you wanted to win. Peter Moloney (IRL) made the same manoeuvre inside the lake on the huge-striding d’Atlantique Royale (Udarco x Kannan), but still slotted in behind Maher with a time of 47.47 seconds.

To the disappointment of the crowds none of the two home riders, José Thiry and Jos Verlooy, recorded a second clear. Verlooy finished best of the Belgians, in seventh place.

The second last in the ring were the runners-up from last weekend’s Top Series Grand Prix, Nicolas Delmotte and the lovely 9-year-old stallion Ilex VP (Diamant de Semilly x Darco). Also Delmotte went inside the lake to the penultimate oxer, and cruised down the last line to slot in on 45.81 seconds taking over the lead.

It was all down to Willem Greve (NED), as last to go on his faithful 13-year-old stallion Carambole N.O.P. (Cassini x Concerto 4). Greve got a great angle to the third last upright, went inside the lake and clearing the penultimate oxer Carambole ate up the ground on the final stretch to cross the finish line in 45.43 seconds – good enough for the win.

“Carambole is now back after an injury, he has been out for a long while so I really took my time to bring him back – and this was the first time I really tried with him,” Greve explained. “Before I went into the jump-off, Hardin Towell said to me that Ben – who held the lead then – went around the lake and that I did not have to go crazy to win if I would go smooth inside instead. So I decided to do that. And Carambole felt really good today! He is an unbelievable horse, and we are such a good team together!”

Greve has really enjoyed his week at the Knokke Hippique Summer Cicruit, and said: “It’s a bit like Florida here. I was here for the first time two years ago, and already back then Stephan told me about his plans with putting up the extra rings we see here now and all the improvements he wanted to make. The footing here is perfect, the courses are great and the organisation is super. To have a class like this under the lights also creates a super atmosphere! The show here is created by horse people for horse people, nothing is left to coincidence. What I also like is that it’s not just made available for the riders that do the five-star, it’s for whatever level you are on – it’s reachable to be here. It’s just fantastic!”

Home rider Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) was crowned the Leading Rider of the Top Series, unbeatable even though not present for the last weekend of Knokke Hippique as he represents Belgium at CHIO Aachen. Hence, Philippaerts can enjoy driving a STX 2 Horse Truck for the next year until he returns for the 2018-edition of the event.

Results from the CSI3* Grand Prix can be found via this link.

The Leading Rider standings can be found via this link.


Picture © OneShot

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