Time flies when you’re having fun. After almost four days of top sport and unwinding by the seaside, the battle for the first two Grand Prix of Knokke Hippique 2022 was on today already.

A thrilling CSI3* Grand Prix, presented by Henders and Hazel was the perfect first highlight of the three-week equestrian event.

Bernardo Alves wins the Top Series CSI3* Grand Prix, presented by Henders and Hazel (1m55 – €52.500)

As the evening fell over the Zoute Plage arena during the course walk, it immediately became clear the CSI 3* Henders and Hazel Grand Prix would be a real challenge. In Thursday’s and Friday’s qualifiers, 43 riders had secured a shot at the Grand Prix win. They really had to come out punching today, as even the greatest Olympic legends did not manage to clear the course and many riders did not make the clock. With just 4 clear rounds it was proving ultra-demanding tonight.

Brazil’s Bernardo Alves and Mosito van het Hellehof, who placed 4th in last night’s qualifier, were first to enter the ring for the big finale. Mosito angling away and clearing fence after fence led us wondering if anyone could improve on what he was delivering during this jump-off. After soaring through the massive Henders and Hazel double, the duo raced to the last vertical: clear!

Who would do it better? Maybe a fairly new pair: Olympic champion Laura Kraut and Calgary Tame? Sadly the American challengers had one vertical down quite early in the course and finished with 8 penalties in total. Bernardo’s second challenger came from Germany. Kendra Claricia Brinkop and Do It Easy looked relaxed and ready walking into the arena. They started of strong but the jump-off course was ruthless: 8 penalties.

The second American in the finale, Michael Hughes, was last to go with Kashmir Van d’Oude Pastory. They are known for being fierce competitors and proved just that again tonight. Impressing on every fence and in every turn they had the audience on the edges of their seats. One vertical to go. Clear! But oh no: 0.02 seconds to slow! After giving Bernardo Alves a real scare, the flying duo finishes second in the Henders and Hazel Grand Prix.

Victory went to Brazil after a great performance by both rider and horse. But after the prize-giving, an overjoyed Bernardo Alves wanted to talk mostly about the amazing Mosito. “I have never ridden a horse like Mosito van het Hellehof. We have competed in 7 Grand Prix. We qualified 6 times and won 2 times. Unbelievable! I am really happy.”

Bernardo Alves will be back in the third week of Knokke Hippique where he will compete for the Brazilian team in the long awaited Nations Cup.

Tatiana Troiani takes the Prestige League CSI1* Grand Prix (1m30)

Earlier, in the afternoon, 56 riders who had qualified during the previous days competed for the victory of the CSI1* GP presented by Knokke-Heist, the beautiful coastal town where the event is held. Of the 15 riders that made it through to the jump-off 6 cleared the course. The ladies in particular were on top of their game and delivered the fastest clear rounds. Jane Annett (GBR) and Iwalinde finished in third place. Louke Baeten (BEL) secured second place with Adare. Winner Tatiana Troiani and her gelding Palmiro de Muze were the only ones to go clear in the jump-off in less than 36 seconds.

Leading riders The riders performing the best overall during 3 weeks of Knokke Hippique will not only be crowned the leading riders of the competition but will also be awarded with a STX tackbox (CSI1*) or a STX horse truck (CSI3*) to drive for one year. After the first Grand Prix Norwegian Maria Louise Kingsrød is currently leading the CSI 1* ranking. For the moment X is the best CSI3* rider.

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