Lorenzo De Luca brought yet another big five-star win home to Knokke Hippique-host and Event President Stephan Conter, when taking the top honours in Saturday night’s CSI5* 1.50m Championship of Knokke presented by Knokke Heist.
The fifteen best riders from the first round in this class moved on to the second, which was against the clock. Ten riders were on a clean sheet, two carried a time penalty and three had a rail on their record.
Under the floodlights, the horses and riders were faced with a shortened course set by Uliano Vezzani – but it spread out across the entire Zoute Plage so there was plenty of galloping to be done and also options for tight turns and shortcuts.
It was a determined De Luca that entered the ring with Scuderia 1918 Halifax van het Kluizebos (Heartbreaker x Fetiche du Pas) as the third rider carrying a clean sheet from the first round. The Italian, who rides for Stephan Conter’s Stephex Stables in Belgium, wasted no time around the shortened track – taking all the risk. Crossing the finish line, the clock showed 41.77 seconds and it looked like that would be very difficult to beat.
Although they all tried, the remaining riders could not catch De Luca. Closest came De Luca’s Stephex-colleague Daniel Deusser and Calisto Blue (Chacco-Blue x Con Air), winners of Friday’s feature class, that stopped the clocks at 42.38 seconds. Best on behalf of the host nation was Niels Bruynseels, who finished third with Jenson Van’t Meulenhof (Vagabond de La Pomme x Quidam de Revel) with a time of 44.21 seconds.
“It was a good class, the first round was quite technical and the time was tight. For the second round, I knew it would be fast with so many good riders. But I felt Halifax a 100% so I really tried. I am happy we got this class,” smiled De Luca. “It’s special to win here because it’s Stephan’s show, and special because it’s with Halifax. His character is amazing, he is so clever – he knows exactly where the poles are. He won so much in his career, he is a really special horse.”
“We don’t have so many shows like this in the middle of the year, where you can bring your best horses but still build up new ones, less experienced ones and younger ones at the same time. I also think the horses really enjoy to be here,” De Luca said about Knokke Hippique.
Earlier in the day, Sweden’s Douglas Lindelöw and Citti 3 (Catoki x Elite) won the CSI5* 1.45m Taittinger Prize. Lindelöw left 0.26 seconds down to runner-up Omer Karaevli from Turkey, who had partnered up with Cheston de La Pomme d’Or Z (Chippendale Z x Contendro II) in this class. Third place went to Friday’s winners, Frederic Vernaet and Gin Duidam (Quidam de Revel x Corofino).
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