BRUSSELS – The finale of the Brussel Stephex Masters unfolded like a wonderland fairytale. With two Stephex riders who finished on the podium and the winner of the 1.60m Grand Prix also based at the stables of Stephan Conter in Brussels. With her mount Rmf Zecilie Jessica Springsteen claimed victory as the last combination to go in the jump-off, in which she beat Daniel Deusser and pushed her partner Lorenzo de Luca into third place of the Rolex Grand Prix presented by Audi.
The five-star Grand Prix of the Brussels Stephex Masters will be remembered for a long time to come. With only the rain as a spoil sport, the atmosphere was full of anticipation and the grounds of the Stephex Stables were packed with public that saw their showjumping heroes perform at their absolute best.
Down the rabbit hole
The 1.60m course set by Ulianno Vezzani and his team of course builders was a showjumping masterpiece that 39 horse-and-rider combinations tried their luck in. Nine pairs remained clear and went down the rabbit hole into the jump off that had 500.000 euro to divide and an Audi E-tron in store for the winner.
With Daniel Deusser as the one before last to go, Lorenzo de Luca was in the lead for team Stephex. The Italian rider, who win Saturday nights class, had delighted the crowds with his efforts on his fairly inexperienced mare Nuance Bleue Vdm Z (by Nabab de Reve). Deusser and his Olympic horse Killer Queen Vdm Z (by Eldorado van de Zeshoek) hoped to repeat their winning performance of Friday night and set out to win. Taking calculated risks to beat his teammate Deusser steered his eleven-year-old mare through the finish line with a whole second to spare.
“I don’t think we were fast enough”, Deusser said to Stephex CEO and founder Stephan Conter when he exited the arena. And the German rider was right. Jessica Springsteen and her Rmf Zecilie (by Acolord) had the advantage of being the last to go and knew were the opportunities lied. The American silver winning medalist relied on her fourteen-year-old mare who looked out for the turns, and the jumps and with a little luck cleared the last fence and claimed victory by beating the leader time in 0,10 seconds.
“I don’t really know how I managed to not hit the wing of the jump with my right foot”, the winner of the GP says with a smile. “I landed the jump before and had seen Daniel ride an easy nine strides towards the final fence, so I went for that. But as I was galloping on, the fence just seemed to be further and further away.” To make the distance Springsteen steered lightly towards the side, clearing the jump with a big leap nearly hitting the wing of the obstacle. “I trust my horse so much, she is so brave. And when she is in the ring, she is in for the game and will never let me down. I am very grateful to have the ride on her.”
“Because there had not been many clears – just three before me – the plan was just to stay clear and see what we could do in terms of time.”, the new owner of the Audi Etron explains. I was a bit cautious from one to two, but then I had a good run and decided to keep pushing till the end. That luckily worked out well”, Springsteen concludes before paying her compliments to Conter. “Everyone here has enjoyed an incredible show and we are all very grateful to Stephan and his team who’ve made this all possible.”
“I could not wish for a better group of people sitting next to me at this press conference”, Stephan Conter says also referencing to Pieter Clemens who scored the best result for the Belgians by finishing fourth with ten-year-old stallion Akarad Hero Z (by Aganix du Seigneur). “I was not expecting to celebrate these riders on the podium. Of course, we always dream the wins stays within the team but because Jessica in based at our stables we do feel she is a part of the team as well. Both Daniel and Lorenzo did an amazing job, and these results are very promising for the future. I am also very happy with the efforts of my team who have made this all happen. We’ve delighted many people with top sport and that is what we are all about”.