Family affair to end this Family Day at Flanders Horse Event in the FHE Prize or Small GP: just like for the Masters, last Thursday, the jump off in the small GP turned out to be a Devos vs. Devos clash. Fourteen of the 44 startes managed to qualify for a thrilling jump off in this 1m50 class counting for the Longines ranking. Pieter Devos rode Haloubet Hitchcock (Baloubet de Rouet x Heartbreaker) to a clear jump off in an unbeatable time of 42.48 sec.
The last ones to enter the ring were Wouter Devos and Tonik Hero (Ogano Sitte x Elegant de l’Ile). For a moment, it seemed as if Wouter could beat his brother, but in the end the combination obtained the second place after a clear jump off in 43.06 sec. Time for a double interview with the Devos brothers:
How did Flanders Horse Event go for you so far?
Pieter: “It couldn’t have gone much better, did it? Wouter and I were already in first and second place on Thursday, and to do that again in the same competition… that’s something you usually only dream of.”
Wouter: “it went great so far! Pieter and I were in first and second place in the Masters, and I must say that second place was special as I rode Just Me D, a new talent I have only been riding for 6 months. He arrived to succeed Tonik Hero and Emporio van ‘t Holeinde, and it’s the first time I had such a result with him.”
What did you hope for when you entered the arena?
Pieter: “I had a feeling I had a chance to win, Haloubet Hitchcock jumped really well in the first round and is very competitive. I had a good feeling after the first round, so there was a good chance I could win.”
Wouter: “For me, the most important thing was to ride my course, my way. It’s the third year in a row that I obtain the second place in this class. I must admit I did hope it would go well.”
Why did you two end on top of this class?
Pieter: “It’s a big advantage to know your horse really well when you have to ride fast, and that is precisely where Haloubet Hitchcock and I are a strong combination. I know I shouldn’t make my turns too sharp with him, the most important thing is not to interrupt the rhythm, because then I can take one stride less here and there. And that helped a lot on the long lines.”
Wouter: “Tonik is a fast horse and has more power than you would give him credit for. I’ve just come out of a period where things did not go too well, but now I believe in him again and I allow him to make his own jumps. That’s when he jumps best, when he feels I give him my trust.”
Pieter, how does it feel to beat your brother?
“I would have been just as happy if Wouter would have won. In fact, I hoped for him to win this: he rode so well! We run a business together and we do this sport together. It’s fantastic to be able to complete each other and perform on the same level, as a family.”
Wouter, how does it feel to end right behind your brother again?
“I don’t mind it one bit! We ride for the same stables, we’re a team. The fact that we, as a family, are number one and two is fantastic!”
Wouter and Pieter, what do you hope for in tomorrow’s Grand Prix?
Pieter: “my horses are in a good shape, they showed it these last few weeks. However, tomorrow is another day and we will all have to ride very hard to get the results we hope for, but I do think I could stay clear. I will ride Gin D tomorrow, the horse my wife Caroline Poels trained. Gin D came over to me in April, and the two best results so far are the victory in the GP of Knokke and the Masters here. I hope I can do something here with him tomorrow.”
Wouter: “I will take Emporia to the Grand Prix tomorrow. He won the small GP in Knokke and went to Lier to prepare for Beervelde. I don’t really dare to say what I hope for just yet, we’ll see.”
It was an all Belgian top three in this small GP, with a third place for Virginie Thonon and High Tech Vy de Septon (double clear in 43.06 seconds).
Clearly, the Belgians are in great shape here in Beervelde, so tomorrow promises to be a thrilling finale.