With European summertime drawing to a close, so too does the Rolex Grands Prix summer season, which begins in May and ends on the final weekend in August. Over the course of this four-month period, Rolex is the title partner of six prestigious shows’ Grands Prix, each one sitting outside of the revered Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
CSIO Jumping International de la Baule hosted the first Rolex Grand Prix of the summer season, also marking the first time Rolex has sponsored the show, a firm favourite with riders. Delighted crowds witnessed 59-year-old Canadian Beth Underhill and Dieu Merci Van T&L lift the inaugural trophy. The mare was previously ridden by Eric Lamaze, who has now retired from the sport due to health issues. Lamaze is now providing his expert knowledge to the Canadian team in his new role as Chef d’Equipe and was with Underhill at the show. Second place went to Yuri Mansur of Brazil with his gelding Vitiki, with Frenchman Pierre Marie Friant claiming third with Urdy d’Astrée.
Just a week later, the world’s best horse and rider combinations made the short journey across the English Channel to the spectacular CHI Royal Windsor Horse Show in the grounds of Windsor Castle, which this year hosted a spectacular equestrian and musical performance to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s 70-year reign. Equestrian royalty gathered to contest the Rolex Grand Prix, which, in typical English style, was held under grey clouds and rainy skies. Bernardo Costa Cabral’s course caused issues throughout, with only three combinations eventually progressing to the jump-off. First to go was Belgian Gregory Wathelet with his trusted partner Nevados S who laid down a gauntlet that neither Max Kühner of Austria nor Daniel Bluman from Israel could match. Wathelet and his stallion now target the FEI World Championships, both hoping to carry forward their winning form.
Next up was CSIO Roma Piazza di Siena, which is often referred to as the most picturesque show jumping event in the world. On the pristine oval arena where 49 of the world’s best partnerships competed, 13 proceeded to the jump-off. Much to his delight, Irishman Denis Lynch claimed his second Rolex Grand Prix in Roma, his first coming in 2008 with the great Lantinus. Lynch had only recently taken over the reins of his ride Brooklyn Heights, but the duo was in harmony and produced the quickest round to take the title. Germany’s Jana Wargers and her bay stallion Limbridge followed up in second place and home favourite Piergiorgio Bucci took third.
The Rolex Grand Prix provided a fitting finale to the four-day Show, with the finest horse and riders in action to compete for the prestigious prize, which went to Gregory Wathelet. The CAIO4* Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix came to a close following three days of intense competition, with Boyd Exell taking the spoils. Elsewhere, the Champagne Laurent Perrier Meet of the British Driving Society, featuring Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Lady Louise Windsor, provided a fantastic spectacle and the final of the DAKS Pony Club Mounted Games was won by Wales.
WATHELET RIDES TO GLORY IN THE ROLEX GRAND PRIX
The feature CSI5* class of the day, the Rolex Grand Prix, saw the world’s best horse and rider combinations battle it out for the prestigious title. Bernardo Costa Cabral’s up-to-height 1.60m course proved challenging, with only three riders making it through to the jump-off. The likes of World No. 2 Martin Fuchs, World No. 3 Henrik von Eckermann, and London International Horse Show Grand Prix winner, Harry Charles, all accumulated four faults in the first round.
First to go in the jump-off, Belgian Gregory Wathelet, laid down the gauntlet with the tightest of turns to the Rolex double at the far end of the arena and flying down to the final fence to set the time to beat of 34.79 seconds aboard Nevados S. Max Kühner was next to take up the challenge, and he set out meaning business with Elektric Blue P, but he was not able to match Wathelet’s time, leaving it to Daniel Bluman as the final remaining rider able to take over the lead. Bluman was able to get closer to Wathelet’s time, but in doing so accrued four faults at the very last fence, leaving him in third.
Wathelet said: “It is amazing to win a Grand Prix, especially a Rolex Grand Prix. I jumped in the Nations Cup at La Baule last week and the horse was jumping really well, so I was confident coming to Royal Windsor that he was on great form. It was a tough course which was very up to height, but I thought there would be more clears from the top combinations. Even though there weren’t many riders in the jump-off you still have to go fast and clear to win. The Show is incredible; the atmosphere and the crowds are amazing; all of the riders love coming here.”
THE CHARLES DYNASTY RULE AT ROYAL WINDSOR
The Show Jumping got off to an early start with the Protexin Equine Under-25 Jumping Competition featuring Great Britain’s top up-and-coming young riders. Of the seven combinations who went through to the second round, it was Sienna Charles riding Chinta Van Geluut Z who set the pace as second to go, jumping an immaculate round in a time of 34.93 seconds. Those who followed were unable to match Charles’ standard, with Joe Fernyhough coming closest with a clear in a time of 35.42 to finish second, ahead of Oliver Fletcher in third.
A delighted Charles said: “This class is one I’ve always wanted to win; I’ve come close a couple of times so I’m really pleased with how it’s gone today. I was off a lot of last year with injury or illness, so I took her [Chinta Van Geluut Z] to Spain to build up for the season and I’m really happy with her today.”
The Manama Rose Show Stakes was a speed class with riders jumping one round of 12 fences against the clock. Home favourite John Whitaker took an early lead, setting the standard with an impressive display of speed and agility. Compatriot Guy Williams, known for his skill against the clock, set off meaning business, but took an extra pull down to the last, which denied him pole position. It was Britain’s leading lady rider, Holly Smith, who was the first to put Whitaker’s lead in jeopardy, and with a forward stride to the last, shaved 0.61 seconds off his time to take the lead at the midway point.
Shane Breen stepped up the pace once again, galloping flat out to the last to set what looked to be an unbeatable target. However, ultimately it was Harry Charles who showed his class, taking over the lead with just four to go with a slick performance aboard Billabong du Roumois. The 22-year-old shaved off over two seconds from Breen’s time to take the victory, the perfect preparation for the afternoon’s Rolex Grand Prix.
Charles said: “He is a new horse to me, and this is our first win together. He is a fantastic horse, who is extremely fast and has a lot of potential, so I am really excited about our future together. I didn’t watch anyone in the jump-off; I just stuck to my plan which was to start off conservatively and build up the speed as the course went on. I can’t believe that we were two and a half seconds faster than everyone else – it truly is an ode to how fast the horse is. He is very similar to my top horse, Stardust. Both are naturally quick and careful – those horses are hard to beat!”
SHOWING CHAMPIONS CROWNED
Her Majesty The Queen only narrowly missed another win in the show ring. Her home-bred five-year-old Fool’s Paradise — rated “a star in the making” by rider/producer Katie Jerram-Hunnable — was second in the Novice Riding Horse sponsored by Mr and Mrs Phil Swallow. Coincidentally, this lovely gelding is the son of a mare called Stardust, whom Jerram-Hunnable rode to win the Ladies’ Show Horse class twice here in the past. The overall title went to Cheshire producer Vicky Smith with the Mears family’s Times Square.
Chief Showing steward Sebastian Garner was in celebration mode when his daughter Kinvara topped the Intermediate Show Hunters, riding the 10-year-old Irish-bred gelding Despicable Me for her employers, Steve Pitt and Vicky Smith.
Senior Castle Arena Showing Steward and long-time Royal Windsor supporter Philip Judge was also beside himself with joy when his oldest son, Harry, seven, won the Lead Rein Show Hunter Pony class with his charming grey pony, Thistledown Snowfall. Judge, who owns an international haulage company, has stewarded at the show for many years, and also competed here as a child.
At the other end of the equine size scale, Forgelands Hyde Park — Friday’s Hack Champion with producer Danielle Heath — returned to the Show to land the Intermediate Championship with his owner’s daughter, Issy Mears.
EXELL SECURES VICTORY
At the end of a thrilling three days of international action, Boyd Exell (AUS) stormed home the winner of the CAIO4* Land Rover Grand Prix nearly 16 penalties clear of his closest rival, Glenn Geerts (BEL). Having led from the start with an untouchable Dressage score, Boyd held on to his lead through the Marathon phase despite mounting pressure from Geerts and eventual third place Michael Brauchle (GER). However, Exell’s early advantage was too much for his competitors to match, and even a handful of penalties in the Cones kept him well clear of his rivals.
The Team title went to Belgium, whose line-up of Dries Degrieck, Glenn Geerts, and Tom Stokmans clinched the competition by just 0.51 of a point over Germany’s Michael Brauchle, Mareike Harm, and Rene Poensgen.
To find out more about Royal Windsor Horse Show, visit www.rwhs.co.uk.
Penalized by an unfortunate point of time exceeded in the Grand Prix of the CSI 4* of the HUBSIDE JUMPING of Grimaud, the Belgian Grégory Wathelet wins in the Grand Prix of the CSI 2*, associated with Iron Man van de Panderborre. He is ahead of Scott Brash on Hello Mr President and the American Jessica Sprinsgteen on Volage du Val Henry. Best Frenchwoman, Marion Skalli, is fifth in the saddle on Rialto de Chassignol.
“To come back to yesterday’s Grand Prix, the course manager’s task was not at all easy. On paper, he had to offer a 4* course, but in fact, he had to deal with a 5* target. Already Friday evening in the big event, the first three are horses with a lot of experience, including experiences in the championship. So it is very difficult for the course manager, who despite everything did a very good job last night. Of course, the time was very short and I paid the price, but I will not give him wrong. In the end, the jump-off was of great quality, with seven clear rounds, which we riders prefer, really to a jump-off at eighteen for example. If he had set a time longer than two seconds, then there would have been fifteen additional jump-offs, which is not necessarily better. It was certainly against me yesterday, but the sport was beautiful and I was delighted with my horse.
“Today, in the 2* Grand Prix, it was different: we are not in the same range, in the same odds. But there is always this top plateau, of a much higher level than that of a traditional 2*. So again, I find the work of the course manager very good. There was no race at the jump-off, with twenty-five qualified, which would not have been very happy. I had decided to hire Iron Man van de Padenborre for his return to competition, when he is more used to CSI 5*. This Grand Prix was in a way a training. It was the first real horse show since December last year. In January he got a break, then I got a shoulder injury. We had to start over at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, but the competition was canceled at the last minute. Then we received a lot of breeding requests. So much so that we meet here for its cover. He did a little competition three weeks ago, but his real recovery was this week, in 2*. No doubt that next week, he will stay on this level to resume a few kilometers, even if he jumped well today. I do not want to go too fast; we will see week after week to get him going again: I am listening to him.”
The Belgian Grégory Wathelet, reigning European team champion, wins the big event of the day of the CSI 4 * of the HUBSIDE JUMPING of Grimaud, in the saddle on the BWP Indago. In this speed test, he was more than two seconds ahead of German master Marcus Ehning, at the helm of Funky Fred, and the reigning Olympic team champion, Frenchman Philippe Rozier, third, associated with Prestigio Ls La Silla.
“On a speed course, you have to take risks from start to finish. But it was an opening event for this week: everyone wants to take the risks, without doing anything the first day. As soon as I entered the track, I felt that Indago was in good shape; he jumped well from the first obstacle; I was confident. I had planned to take a stride off number 2 and the last: it saved me a little time. Then we had to tighten the turns, stay in the gallop, and be a little shorter than the competition in two or three places. Indago is a horse who likes speed, who is respectful and at these heights, 145-150; he is very competitive. In June-July, I participated in three of the four weeks offered by HUBSIDE JUMPING. I got some rankings, but no wins. One of the explanations is simple: my best horses weren’t on the way yet. Let’s not forget that we came out of a period of several months without a competition. The horses had to be put back on levels 4 and 5*. From now on, horses are once again in the rhythm of competitions. Indago will come out on Saturday at 145; Full House will skip the Grand Prix. My championship horse, Nevados, was previously at the service. It really picks up here. He will jump tomorrow’s big event and next week’s Grand Prix.”
23 July 2017, Aachen, Germany – The first equestrian Major of the year has been won by Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet riding Coree, thrilling the 40,000 capacity crowds in the main arena at CHIO Aachen in a dramatic jump off. Portugal’s Luciana Diniz riding Fit for Fun 13 was second and The Netherlands’ Marc Houtzager riding Sterrehof’s Calimero took third place.
A cool, overcast day welcomed the 40 horse and rider combinations who had qualified for the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday 23 July, the finale and highlight of the nine-day World Equestrian Festival in West Germany. As one of the four Majors which make up the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, every rider had travelled here with one aim: to win in one of the sport’s greatest outdoor arenas.
The Rolex Grand Prix course, designed by the notoriously demanding Frank Rothenberger asked these world class pairings continuous questions over the first round, with 16 jumping efforts to tackle. Rolex Testimonee Scott Brash was third to go and despite a seemingly faultless start, the penultimate triple combination saw Brash take an unlucky four faults.
Testament to the difficulty of the course, only seven clear rounds were produced within the time, including a foot perfect round from Canadian Olympic 2016 bronze medallist and Rolex Testimonee, Eric Lamaze. Two seconds faster than the rest of the field; he had set the bar high for the second round.
18 riders progressed through to round two, with Scott Brash and Eric Lamaze joined by fellow Rolex Testimonees Kent Farrington and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, both of whom carried four faults from the first round.
The course was altered for the second stage of the competition: a revised track of 15 jumping efforts tested each horse and rider combination, requiring utmost accuracy and precision to leave the poles standing. Clear rounds were easier to come by and after Luciana Diniz of Portugal followed Marc Houtzager by posting the second double clear, the crowd knew it was going to be treated to a jump-off. Gregory Wathelet of Belgium and Laura Kraut of the USA followed suit, taking the final round to four competitors. Despite recording the fastest first round ride, Rolex Testimonee Eric Lamaze had an unlucky four faults, taking him out of contention of winning the Rolex Grand Prix.
First to go in the jump off was Marc Houtzager, posting a clear round with a time of 53.66 seconds, but this was quickly beaten as Luciana Diniz raced around the course in 47.40 seconds. With two riders left to go, a hushed silence descended over the crowd as Wathelet entered the arena aboard his mare Coree. The pair turned up the pressure and took another second off the fastest recorded time, finishing on 46.60. The cheering crowd once again quietened as the last rider to go, Laura Kraut, entered the arena. Unfortunately, luck is not always on your side in this sport and Kraut knocked the last rail, dropping her into fourth place, giving Wathelet the title spot.
Speaking about his first Rolex Grand Prix win at CHIO Aachen, Wathelet remarked, “Rolex has the best Shows to form the Rolex Grand Slam with Aachen, Calgary, Geneva and Den Bosch and every rider wants to win. For me it is a dream come to true to win the Rolex Grand Prix at Aachen and have my name on the wall and Calgary would be the same, so I hope to get a good result there also.”
Show Director Frank Kemperman spoke after the Rolex Grand Prix: “First of all I would like to congratulate the winners; you presented some fantastic sport today; a special thank you to your horses. A big thank you to Rolex because without Rolex it would not be possible to have this Grand Prix today. This is the start of a new Rolex Grand Slam for Gregory; our friends in Calgary and Geneva are waiting for you.”
Along with the prestigious Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping trophy, Wathelet also received an engraved Oyster Perpetual Datejust II. All eyes will now be looking ahead to the next equestrian Major at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in September, where Wathelet will be attempting to continue his reign as the live contender of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
Leipzig (GER), 22 January 2017 – Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet revealed a new star in his string when galloping to victory with the fabulous grey mare, Coree, at the tenth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016/2017 Western European League at Leipzig in Germany.
Chasing a super-fast time set by Frenchman Kevin Staut and his Olympic team gold medal winning ride Reveur de Hurtebise HDC, Wathelet broke the beam 0.17 seconds quicker to claim maximum points and move up to tenth place on the qualification table. However, Staut remains the undisputed league leader with a massive 78 points to his credit following a spectacularly consistent season, and looks a serious contender for the 2017 Longines Final in Omaha, Nebraska (USA) in March.
There was a lot of exciting young German talent on show, and seven home runners went into the timed round in which 21-year-old Guido Klatte set the pace with a great clear from Qinghai in 44.90 seconds. Compatriot Markus Brinkmann bettered that when posting 44.47 seconds with Pikeur Dylon but then last year’s surprise winners at this fixture, 23-year-old Niklas Krieg and Carella who eventually finished third, went flying through the finish in 43.76 seconds to go well out in front.
Roger Yves Bost and Sydney Une Prince, winners at the previous leg in Mechelen, Belgium, set the crowd alight when finding a new route to the final oxer through a flower display, but a pole down left this French pair out of contention. So it was Staut’s brilliant run in 41.94 seconds that Wathelet was chasing when third-last to go.
“Coree is an amazing horse, but she’s really only at the beginning of her career,” said the man who claimed individual silver at the FEI European Championships 2015 in Aachen (GER) and who wasn’t expecting too much of the 11-year-old daughter of the great Cornet Obolensky.
“Sometimes I lose her a little bit when I go fast, but today I had a good feeling because there were a lot of turns and everything came up just right for us! I didn’t see Kevin go, but he’s always fast so I knew I had to take a lot of risk. I’m very lucky to have this mare. I got her three years ago and she was initially for sale but then Judith Goelkel, who has eight horses with me, bought her and we have taken time to bring her along. I was planning to give her a rest, but now we will see if we can go to the Final – that is my first goal for 2017!” Wathelet said.
Gregory Wathelet BEL (1st): “Since the middle of last year Coree has been improving steadily. She did her first Grand Prix in July and she’s been improving ever since. She’s always been good except at Geneva where we had a bit of a misunderstanding. I’m really delighted with her!”
John Roche, FEI Jumping Director: “Congratulations to the Organising Committee here in Leipzig for the 20th anniversary show under the directorship of Volker Wulff. I’d also like to congratulate horse-owner Judith Goelkel on the outstanding performance of her lovely mare, Coree.”
Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 Top $35,000 ATCO Structures & Logistics Cup
Calgary, AB, Canada – September 10, 2015 – The 2015 Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament CSIO 5* hosted its second day of competition with the world’s best horses and riders Thursday. Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet celebrated his 35th birthday as well as his first trip ever to Spruce Meadows with a win in the $126,000 CANA Cup 1.60m riding Algorhythem. Earlier in the afternoon, Canada’s Eric Lamaze rode to victory in the $35,000 ATCO Structures and Logistics Cup 1.50m for the second year in a row aboard Fine Lady 5.
The ‘Masters’ Tournament features five days of competition through Sunday, September 13, with highlights including Saturday’s $300,000 BMO Nations’ Cup and Sunday’s $1.5 Million CP International, presented by Rolex. One of the most prestigious grand prix events in the world, the CP International is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, where Scott Brash (GBR) will attempt to become the first rider to ever take the Grand Slam title. Brash already made history by winning two consecutive legs of the challenge with victories at CHI Geneva in December followed by a second victory at CHIO Aachen a few months later. An unprecedented €1 million in bonus money is on offer to any rider who can win all three grand prix events in succession.
On Thursday, the $126,000 CANA Cup was the feature event, shown over a 1.60m track set by Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios. Forty-seven entries contested the first round course, which yielded 14 clear rounds. Six entries were also able to clear the jump-off track without fault. Of the entries that were not able to clear the short course, two had refusals. An imposing wall set on a tight rollback turn became the bogey fence for the rest, dropping for six different pairs.
In the end, it was Gregory Wathelet and his ten-year-old Dutch Warmblood mount Algorhythem (Tampa x Calvados), who completed the fastest clear round in 43.70 seconds. The pair pushed Roger Yves Bost (FRA) into second place with a time of 44.90 seconds aboard Nippon d’Elle. France also finished third as Kevin Staut and Qurack de Falasie HDC clocked in at 47.42 seconds.
Wathelet captured the winning prize of $41,580 and hoisted the CANA Cup for his first win in Spruce Meadows’ esteemed International Ring. Commenting on his victory, the rider smiled, “I feel really good. It is always good to win and it is very special for me to win here in Calgary because it is a tournament that I have wanted to do for many years. I am really happy that I could come this year. It is an amazing place with amazing facilities and everything is perfect. The people are really nice and winning makes it even better.”
Algorhythem is a horse that is usually ridden by Wathelet’s girlfriend and has not competed much at this level, but the rider feels that he has the potential to become a championship horse.
“He just started at the big level three or four months ago,” the rider stated. “Normally my girlfriend rides him, but now she is studying and she does not have as much time, so lucky me, I get to ride him for one more year.”
“The first big grand prix he did was four weeks ago in Valkenswaard (NED) on the Global Champions Tour. He was fifth and double clear,” Wathelet continued. “I really think it is a horse for the big level in the future, maybe for a championship I am sure. Now I am just working to build him up and bring him to the real top level and I think having him here is really a good step in that direction. It is really an easy horse. He has good mentalities. When you come in the ring, nothing is difficult. He does not spook at all. Yesterday I was maybe a little bit scared because I had to go straight in the big competition, but he acted like he had already jumped many times here. It was more me who had to get used to that ring and the big fences.”
Wathelet knew that the only way he would win against the talented list of horses and riders in Thursday’s jump-off was to go as fast as he could.
“When we go to the jump-off, if I know that I have a horse who can win and be in front, for sure I am going to try. That is the sport,” he declared. “With that horse, even if it does not have the most experience and has not done that many speed competitions or jump-offs, I know that he can go fast. I took my chances and he did really well.”
“I did not see the riders before me. I did not see Bosty; I just knew that he was in the lead and he is always really fast,” Wathelet continued. “I saw the jump-offs yesterday and they were crazy fast. I did not know where I could win, but I knew that I needed to take all the risk and go full speed from the beginning. That was the only way to win and I think it will be the same every day for the competitions here.”
With his first Spruce Meadows win under his belt, Wathelet now plans to compete Algorhythem on Belgium’s team for the $300,000 BMO Nations’ Cup. He is also already pre-qualified for Sunday’s $1.5 Million CP International, presented by Rolex, after winning the individual silver medal at this year’s European Championships in Aachen with Conrad de Huis.
Lamaze Tops ATCO Structures & Logistics Cup for Second Year in a Row
The ‘Masters’ Tournament continued in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows Thursday morning with the $35,000 ATCO Structures and Logistics Cup shown over a 1.50m course set by Leopoldo Palacios (VEN). For the second year in a row, Canada’s Eric Lamaze raised the trophy for a win aboard Artisan Farms LLC’s Fine Lady 5, a 12-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II).
“It is an event that is usually won by a really fast horse,” Lamaze remarked on his victories. “Actually, all of the competitions here are won by a fast horse and she is very fast.”
Thirty-eight entries jumped the first round course, with 21 qualifying for the jump-off and ten double clear rounds. Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 carved out a victory in 39.70 seconds over Lisa Carlsen (CAN) and Worlds Judgement in 39.88 seconds. Chile’s Samuel Parot jumped into third with a time of 40.24 seconds aboard Couscous van Orti, and Guy Williams (GBR) finished fourth riding Casper de Muze in 40.43 seconds.
“It is great to go in the ring when it does not matter what people tell you about how fast the person was before you. You know you always have a chance with her to win it,” Lamaze stated. “Some horses you know it is not possible, but with her it is possible.”
Commenting on his jump-off track, Lamaze continued, “I had a lot of help at the back gate telling me what Lisa had done. The word was that it was very fast. Fine Lady is a very quick turner and she is very quick at landing and going places, so she is not a difficult horse to go fast with.”
The ‘Masters’ Tournament continues on Friday featuring the $210,000 Tourmaline Oil Cup 1.60m and the $75,000 ATCO ELECTRIC ‘Circuit’ Six Bar. For a complete tournament schedule and full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
Grégory Wathelet / Riesling du Monselet (Pixel events)
Out of the 53 pairs on the start list for this “Ille et Vilaine” County class, 18 managed to clear the fences, but today the winner had to be the fastest as well. The Belgium Grégory Wathelet, riding Riesling du Monselet, surpassed everyone at the last minute.
While yesterday the riders mostly presented the arena to their horses, the scenario of this first 5* class of the day was totally different, since the time was decisive. Over this 12 fences course, with three double combinations, the course designer Jean-François Morand offered the riders wishing to prepare for the Tropicana Derby the possibility to jump the wall and the bank instead of regular mobile fences. The British Laura Renwick, associated to Rembrandt Blue, signs at the beginning of the class a very fast time and takes the lead. It was not until the end that the provisional ranking turned upside down. 49th to go, the French Julien Epaillard, riding Pigmalion du Rozel, is the first to reduce the time of the British by two seconds with 70″36. He places 2nd. “I think I was a bit too slow on one of the oxers, and on the last fence. I wanted to be faster on the last jump, but I did not succeed. I am glad to see Pigmalion in great shape; he already won two classes in La Corona in Spain. He is very careful and competitive at this level.” The Belgian Grégory Wathelet, almost last to go, was riding Riesling du Monselet, 14 years old, property of his father in law. He crosses the finish line in 70″01, and makes the Brabançonne resonate in the stadium for the second time of the week end. “Riesling is a very fast and regular horse in the speed classes. He was off for a while, but came back to the competition in Chantilly two weeks ago. I knew I could be fast, without taking too many risks. I felt so confident that I decided to cut off one stride between two fences; it was good enough to win.” Laura Renwick finally ends up 3rd.
Mechelen (BEL), 30 December 2011 – Gregory Wathelet scooped the honours for the host nation when coming out on top at the eighth leg of the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping 2011/2012 series at Mechelen in Belgium this afternoon. And he did it in style, throwing down an impossible target when first to go with Copin van de Broy in the eight-horse jump-off, and sitting back to watch the rest line up behind him.
It was 2009 individual European Champion, Kevin Staut from France, who filled runner-up spot with the grey mare, Silvana HDC, while Belgium was prominently placed once more when Rick Hemeryck and Quarco de Kerambars finished third. Germany’s Hans-Dieter Dreher (Magnus Romeo) slotted into fourth, while the fifth-place result for Denis Lynch (Abbervail van het Dingeshof) has promoted the Irishman to second spot on the Western European League leaderboard as 2011 draws to a close with reigning European Champion, Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, still at the head of affairs.