Daniel Deusser ©Scoopdyga.
Germany’s Daniel Deusser described his win in the Rolex Grand Prix, presented by Porsche, at Knokke Hippique as “my greatest victory” and the thousands of spectators enjoying the sunshine of the coastal town of Knokke in Belgium were hard pushed to disagree.
Deusser, riding the Stephex Stables owned Equita van het Zorgvliet, was one of 19 competitors who successfully navigated the first round to go into the jump-off. Ben Maher riding Boomerang set the early target, with a second clear round in a time of 40 seconds, and despite the best efforts of the many who followed him into the arena, no one could come close to this quick pace.
But this competition included many of the top riders in the world, and as the final three combinations lined up to enter the arena, Maher must have known that his time would be under threat. It was the Frenchman, Philippe Rozier riding Rahotep de Toscane, who showed that 40 seconds could be beaten when he posted a blistering clear round in 39.39 seconds. He was followed by Deusser, who had already enjoyed success on the Friday afternoon when he won the 1.50m class aboard Equita van het Zorgvliet, and the in-form partnership posted a time of 39.32 seconds to race into first place.
It was left to the last remaining horse and rider combination to enter the ring to knock Deusser off the top spot, but despite going clear aboard the magnificent bay gelding Nino des Buissonnets, the reigning Olympic Champion Steve Guerdat could only manage a time of 39.96, and had to settle for third place.
This is a remarkable win at 5* level for Equita van het Zorgvliet, who a year ago won her first 3* Grand Prix when ridden by Jonna Ekberg for the Stephex Stables. Deusser took over the riding duties on Equita only two months ago, with the plan to campaign the horse at 5* level throughout the summer. Following good showings at Saint Tropez, Cannes and Rotterdam, this is the first victory at 5* level, and has all the signs of being a partnership to watch for the future.
Speaking after his victory, Deusser said, “As a rider you are always hoping for a result like this, but you don’t even dare to dream of it. This victory is the perfect finish of a perfect show. Even if I am part of the Stephex team I have to congratulate all the team for what they are doing. It is only the second edition but looks already like one of the best shows in the world.”
And commenting about his plans for the future, Steve Guerdat said, “It was my last big Grand Prix before the Olympics with Nino; he will maybe do a small show before, but I am really happy and he looks in a really great shape.” He also added his praise to the organisers of the Knokke Hippique. “Congratulations to Stephan (Conter) and his team plus all the sponsors for such an amazing show.”
This is only the second edition of Knokke Hippique but with the show offering over €570,000 prize money and able to attract many of the world’s Top 10 riders including six Olympic gold medallists, it has quickly established itself as one of the top CSI5* events of the summer.
The second show of the year to be organised by the Stephex team, the Brussels Stephex Masters, will take place from 31 August to 4 September – for further information, please visit http://stephexmasters.com.