Knokke-Heist, Belgium – June 24, 2021 – Belgian rider Wilm Vermeir (BEL) scored one for the home team on Thursday. In the Grand Prix-qualification over 1.50m – presented by Artemide – the Flemish rider improved the time to beat set by compatriot Dominique Hendrickx (BEL) in the ranking class. Reigning European Champion Martin Fuchs (SUI) prevented a full Belgian top three. The Swiss rider finished in between Vermeir and Hendrickx.
With the sun gracing the venue of Knokke Hippique, the feature class of the day had an extra sheen to it with 49 rider-and-horse combinations competing in the five-star ranking class. Accepting the challenge set by one of the best course builders in the world, Uliano Vezzani (ITA).
Coming in at number four Dominique Hendrickx (BEL) was on top of his game with Vintadge de La Roque in the class jumped against the clock. The bay gelding by Kannan cleared the course with a finish time of 61.65 seconds. A fair few riders tried to get near Hendrickx’s time but to no avail until Wilm Vermeir entered the Zoute Plage.
Vermeir (BEL) and twelve-year-old Joyride S (Toulon x Pachat II) treated those lucky enough to watch on from the grandstand to a winning performance with one-and-a-half seconds to spare on the clock. “It is fantastic to close my first day here with a win like this. I knew after walking the course that Joyride would be able to do well in this class. He is able to keep a good canter and still remain super careful which definitely helped us secure the win.”
The Belgian rider is especially pleased since he was not sure he would be able to attend Knokke Hippique. “The entries are linked to the world ranking list. And although I am currently placed 87th, with so many top-ranked riders in the game my place at this show was not a given. I am very grateful to Stephan Conter that I can ride here. The whole showground looks amazing. It is really something else”, the winner concludes.
However, Vermeir was not sure of a victory yet after his ride. Two combinations on Martin Fuchs (SUI) entered the arena with fourteen-year-old Tam Tam du Valon (Ogrion des Champs x Quidam de Revel ). Currently ranked as the number three of the world the Swiss rider gave an equally fine performance but missed out on the win by 0,39 seconds. Gudrun Patteet (BEL) and Sea Coast Pebbles Z (by Picasso) slotted into fourth place. With former Olympic Champion Steve Guerdat (SUI) and Albfuehren’s Maddox rounding-up the top five.
Final Results – €30,100 Artemide Speed Challenge CSI 5*
1) Wilm Vermeir (BEL) & Joyride S – 0 / 60.10
2) Martin Fuchs (SUI) & Tam Tam du Valon – 0 / 60.49
3) Dominique Hendrickx (BEL) & Vintadge de La Roque – 0 / 61.65
Source: Press Release from Stephex Events / Knokke Hippique
Photos: © Sportfot