Bruynseels unbeatable in €300.000 Grand Prix Rolex powered by Audi at Knokke Hippique 2018




Niels Bruynseels and his incredible mare Gancia de Muze (Malito de Reve x Nimmerdor) delivered a truly jaw-dropping jump-off to take home the victory for Belgium in Sunday’s CSI5* €300.000 Grand Prix Rolex powered by Audi at Knokke Hippique 2018.

After having won the five-star Grand Prix competitions at Knokke Hippique’s sister event Brussels Stephex Masters in 2016 and 2017, and more recently the Rolex Grand Prix of Den Bosch, expectations were high for home hero Bruynseels who did not disappoint all those that had come to watch him today.

Thirty degrees, blue skies, sun and packed with spectators, it was always going to be an amazing atmosphere for the feature class of Knokke Hippique 2018 – the Grand Prix Rolex powered by Audi.

Fourteen riders out of the 46 in the competition managed to produce clear rounds over the thirteen-fence track set by Italian mastermind Uliano Vezzani, to move on to the jump-off. “I think it was a super course today, and not because I won,” Bruynseels commented after the Grand Prix. “It was a fair course, because these horses have to jump not only this weekend – it’s every weekend or every second weekend – and this did not take everything out of them. It was a great job by the course designer.”
In the jump-off, it was USA’s Adrienne Sternlicht and Cristalline (Cristallo 1 x Caretello B) – the winners of Friday’s feature class – that really set the pace as second to go. Blazing around the shortened track with turns that brought the spectators to the edge of their seats, the pair stopped the clocks at 40.32 seconds and it looked like that would be tough to beat.
One rider later however, Ireland’s Darragh Kenny entered the ring with Balou du Reventon (Cornet Obolensky x Continue). The Irish rider jumped the penultimate upright with a breath-taking angle, before galloping flat out to the last oxer – snatching the lead from Sternlicht with his unbelievable time of 39.06 seconds.
As next to go, Great Britain’s William Whitaker really gave it a shot on the lovely Utamaro d’Ecaussinnes (Diamant de Semilly x Quidam de Revel) but crossed the finish line slightly shy of Kenny’s time in 39.84 seconds.
Another two riders later, it was time for Bruynseels. Notoriously fast, and especially when on Gancia de Muze, he set off in top gear and did not once pull back the tiny bay mare who definitely played the game today. With the speed of light, the couple yet again showed what a magical partnership they have when bringing the time down to 38.74 seconds – pushing Kenny back to second and Whitaker to third.
None of those to come were close to touching the top three. Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat finished fourth with Bianca (Balou du Rouet x Cardento) in 39.95 seconds, ahead of Sternlicht in fifth.