BRUSSELS – The finale of Saturday’s classes was a real thriller! Under the lights at the Brussels Stephex Masters twelve riders returned for the second round of the 1.50m Henders & Hazel Prix and what a show they gave the audience that saw another Stephex rider, Lorenzo de Luca, take home the win.
A large crowd gathered around the main arena on the grounds of the Stephex Stables to see the spectacle unfold tonight. And the pressure was on with a dozen of absolute top riders lined-up to compete in the course designed by Uliano Vezzani and his team of course builders.
Gregory Wathelet and Clarity (v. Clarimo) were the first to finish the course faultless to the delight of the Belgians. The Olympic team bronze medalist set the time to beat in 40,88 seconds. Next up was Whatelets countryman, who was also part of the bronze winning team in Tokyo, Pieter Devos. With Mom’s Isaura (by Tinka’s Boy) he could not catch his colleague and eventually finished in sixth place (42,33).
In it to win it
Next up was another rider flying the Belgian flag, Jos Verlooy. With his mount Fabregas (by Zambesi) he almost took over the lead with just 0,08 seconds keeping him from beating Whatelet. Proving that the task at hand was not impossible was Bertram Allen. The Irish Olympian made it clear that he was in it to win it. With his eleven-year-old Irish bred Fts Killossery Konfusion (by Siec Livello) he crosed the finish line in 40,16 seconds (-0,72).
Big strides, big heart
The one after last rider to go really got the party started in Brussels. Stephex rider Lorenzo de Luca and nine-year-old mare Malissa de Muze (by Vigo d’Arsouilles) gave it their all and stopped the timer with a whole second to spare. “This mare is naturally very fast. She is not very big, but she has big strides and a big heart. I think I took one stride out from obstacle two to three and even though I was too careful on the second last fence, we had a good run towards the end”, the Italian rider explains his ride.
Time to celebrate
However, it was not time to celebrate yet with Niels Bruynseels and Gancia de Muze (by Malito de Reve) still to go and ready to rumble. The Belgian rider made an excellent attempt at beating De Luca but missed the mark by 0,66 seconds and henceforth finished as the runner-up. Leaving Bertram Allen in third place.
‘I could not be happier’
“It is absolutely fantastic to win here on behalf of the Stephex team!”, De Luca happily says after the prize giving ceremony. “I’ve had the pleasure of riding this mare for a few years now. We’ve had some great results over the years, but this is the biggest class we’ve won so far. To do so here, in front of an amazing audience at the Stephex Stables is fantastic, I could not be happier”.
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