What a battle yesterday in the Mas Tu Vu Prize, the Grand Prix Qualifier counting for the FEI ranking. No less than 22 out of the 63 riders qualified for a jump off that gave the first riders quite a hard time.
Wouter Devos managed to ride a clear jump off, and how… The Belgian rider gave the audience a show in the saddle of Tonik Hero, his SBS gelding by Ogano Sitte x Elegant de l’Ile, performing a superfast clear in 42.39 seconds. With over 10 riders to go after him, we had to wait and see if someone would manage to do better, but none of the following riders were able to beat Wouter’s time.
Jeroen Appelen and Grappeloup van het Reenhof (Larino x Kashmir van Schuttershof) had a go at it and nearly made it, but missed the time by a hair (42.62 sec.) and had to settle for the second place. The Irish rider Peter Moloney also rode a very fast and clear jump off with d’Atlantique Royale (Udarco x Kannan): he took the third place after stopping the clock at 42.93 sec. We asked Wouter how his competition is going so far.
“I just arrived, to be honest. I rode Just Me D earlier today, in preparation for the ranking class, and this one with Tonik Hero. I have been riding Just Me D for a year and a half and she is evolving steadily. She is only nine years old, but I hope this horse will be able to replace Tonik”, Wouter explains.
“Everything was possible in this jump off: there were many riders and no one had managed a clear before me, but I also had a lot of riders that would start after me. I could just go for a clear, but with bad luck, I could also get a fault on Sunday. So I decided to try and be fast.”
Many riders had fences down in this jump off. Where did the difficulties lie, according to Wouter?
“The RES-fence was quite difficult, and it was a long jump off, so I think there were mistakes everywhere.”
Jeroen Appelen and Peter Moloney both performed very well, but were not fast enough to beat Wouter. What did they do differently?
“Jeroen actually had a better time than I did, but took an extra stride in the last line. That’s what made him loose time, I think. Peter has a horse with a very good canter, but had a bit of a miscommunication in the beginning. What made the difference for me, I think, were the many and short turns I took.”
Wouter will ride Tonik in tomorrow’s Grand Prix and is motivated, if careful: “Tonik is in good shape, but a mistake can always happen.”
Text: Kim Schoukens – Ekimedias
Picture: Kristof Wellekens – Fotoroyal