Lanaken, Belgium – September 24, 2022 – Five years after becoming Belgian Champion before with the stallion H&M Chilli Willi, Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) once again stood on top of the Belgian Championship podium again this afternoon! During a thrilling final with the cards being reshuffled almost every round, the Limburg rider clearly delivered the strongest performance and thus takes over the torch from Jos Verlooy (BEL) after three years.
There were lots of spectators this afternoon at the domain in Lanaken for the final of the Belgian Senior Championship, where traditionally the best sixteen combinations from the two qualifying rounds on Wednesday and Thursday make their appearance for an ultimate showdown.
Philippaerts counted on the 10-year-old Zangersheide mare H&M Luna van ‘t Ruytershof Z (Levisto Z x For Pleasure) from breeder Bert Van den Branden for this Belgian Championship and started this final day as number 5 with a total score of 2.65 points. On Wednesday during the first qualifying round, they finished 13th and on Thursday they were one of only five combinations to keep a clean slate during the second qualifying round.
The first round of the final this afternoon also immediately proved to be quite a tough one. Quite a few riders made a mistake or crumbled under the pressure, leaving the field wide open for changes in the rankings. Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) did do an excellent job during that first round, though. He was one of only three combinations who managed a clear round and because all the riders ahead of him collected one or more jumping faults, he jumped to the lead in the standings.
During the second and decisive round, this allowed Philippaerts to finish the job as the final rider to go into the arena and he finished more than 3 points ahead of his closest rival. Philippaerts managed to keep his cool and with 1 penalty point for time during this decisive round he added another national title to his record of achievements!
Philippaerts, unlike Spits was spared a dip in the waterjump, and he seemed quite gratefull his H&M outfit kept dry. “I am however most gratefull to my father and my team. They are the people that helped to the top of the podium. And I am also in awe of Judy-Ann and her organisation. The event they host for us each year is unrivalled and we should be proud.”
For the second year in a row, silver was claimed by Thibeau Spits (BEL), who thus managed to win another medal after his gold medal at the European Young Riders Championships in Oliva last summer. Spits started this final day with the 12-year-old gelding King van Essene (Calido I x Chacco Blue), owned by breeder Carlos De Cock, as number 3 with a score of 2.13 points. A rail down on the VDL oxer during the first round today kept Thibeau from ranking higher. “It was an unfortunate rail, I lost my rein after it and I did not finish my round in the most elegant way, but finishing second is still a number I am not unhappy with.”
The bronze at this Belgian Championship was for Jordy Van Massenhove with the 11-year-old mare Gaga E d’Augustijn (Bustique x Elmshorn) from breeder S.J. Ebbinge. They were in 4th place before the start of this final with a score of 2.18 points and today achieved a score of 5 penalties, 4 of which were in the first round and 1 for time during the second round. It was Jordy’s first time on the BC-podium and he was chuffed with the bronze. “You always try to reach the highest result possible and on a normal day finishing third is not the position you aim for. But in this Championship I had no expectations really, so sitting here with Nicola and Thibault is more than I envisioned.”
Final Results – Belgian Championship Final Standings
1) Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) & H&M Luna van’T Ruytershof Z – 3.65
2) Thibeau Spits (BEL) & King van Essene – 6.13
3) Jordy van Massenhoeve (BEL) & Gaga E d’Augustijn – 6.13
Source: Press Release by Eva van den Adel for Zangersheide
Photo: © Zangersheide / Sportfot