It is all over again. Unfortunately we will have to miss the grass arenas in Wolvertem for a year, but we would not be Stephex events if we did not end with a bang. Today was the day. With the Rolex Grand Prix, presented by Audi, we enjoyed the highlight of the Brussels Stephex Masters together with a huge and ecstatic audience.
There was not a cloud in the sky when the highlight of the Brussels Stephex Masters kicked off this afternoon. One flawless course, a lightning-fast jump-off and 43 competitors were all that stood in the way of the riders eager to win the Rolex Grand Prix, presented by Audi. The course designed by Frenchman Grégory Bodot was not an easy one. Before the break, only two riders managed to keep all the rails in place. After the break, five more followed. The home crowd kept hoping for a Belgian finalist up until the very end. You could hear a pin drop when Jos Verlooy, Gregory Wathelet and finally Gilles Thomas were riding their courses … and you could hear a loud groan of disappointment go through the audience when all three did not manage to clear the course. No Belgians in the jump-off, unfortunately, but we did have 7 world-class riders competing for the title.
First up: Kristaps Neretnieks (Valour). Unfortunatly, he got a fault on the first fence of the jump-off. Then Harrie Smolders and Uricas V/D Kattevennen rode into the arena. The beautiful stallion galloped with great speed and style through the course. What a horse! Clear and the shortest time. However, he was immediately overtaken by Eduardo Pereira De Menezes (H5 Chaganus). The commentators could not believe their eyes. “Did you see that? Judging by the screams throughout the arena, the audience was also deeply impressed. Dennis Lynch (Brooklyn Heights) did not make a mistake either, but was just a bit too slow. Then, the world number 3 was on: Peder Fredricson. Catch me not cleared jump after jump, made no mistake and did it faster than anyone else: absolute world class. Unbeatable as it turned out, because although both Steve Guerdat (Dynamix de Belheme) and Nicolas Pizarro (Oak Grove’s Enkidu) cleared the jump-off, they could not beat the time of the Knokke Hippique 2022 winner. Congratulations Peder and Catch Me Not!
Harrie Smolders: “I am very proud of Uricas V/D Kattevennen and also of Escape Z who was also competing at the Brussels Stephex Masters. With them I clearly have some very young top stallions in my team. The future looks good.”
Eduardo Pereira De Menezes: “Just to be here in the Grand Prix already was great, but to be able to achieve this result is simply wonderful. I am also here as the trainer of an entire family that rides. Together, we started an equestrian story from scratch. And now we are here. Amazing!“
Peder Fredricson: “I am so happy that this year I could win both in Knokke and at the Brussels Stephex Masters. Catch Me Not S is 16 years old but you don’t feel that. I certainly take his age into account but he is still top. He was my backup for the WC in Herning and in great shape.”
Stephan Conter: “Our goal is to get extra people involved in the sport. Because we get more and more breeders, riders, fans and even completely new people at each event, we know this is working. We are constantly raising the bar and innovating. Our ambitions are great. Personally I think the European Championships for the younger rider groups would fit perfectly in Knokke. Let’s make it happen!“
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