23 September '23
Gilles Thomas become Belgian Champion in a masterful way!!
Nicola Philippaerts' successor has been announced! Under a radiant sun and with a lot of atmosphere in the crowded stands, this afternoon it was Gilles Thomas who was crowned the new Belgian Champion in a masterful way! In the saddle of the 9-year-old SF stallion Ermitage Kalone (Catoki x Kannan), Thomas made a great impression during all 4 rounds and made no mistakes!
During the FEI WBFSH Jumping World Breeding Championship for Young Horses, Saturday afternoon is traditionally time for the denouement of the Belgian Championship for Seniors. The best 16 combinations from the two qualifiers on Wednesday and Thursday will then appear in the ring for an ultimate battle for the medals.
Gilles Thomas and Ermitage Kalone were already tipped as one of the favorites before the start of this Belgian Championship and in recent days they immediately showed why they were on many people's list of favorites. After a brilliant 3rd place on Wednesday during the Table C class and a strong clear round on Thursday, they started the grand final today as the number 2 in the rankings. During the first round, in which only 4 combinations managed to remain clear, Thomas and Ermitage Kalone again confirmed their good form with a clear round. Reigning Belgian Champion Nicola Philippaerts was in the lead at that time with his 9-year-old mare Klaartje Z (Kannan x Flipper d'Elle), but he had some bad luck in the last line and Thomas and Ermitage Kalone were able to take over the lead.
During the second and decisive round, Thomas was the last combination who appeared in the ring again and he had a lead of more than four and a half penalty points over rider Virginie Thonon. Thomas and Ermitage Kalone managed to keep their coold and with 1 penalty point for time during this decisive round they wrote this Belgian title to their list of honors!
Gilles Thomas: “Being the last to go in the second round and then becoming Belgian Champion in such a way is of course a dream scenario. I had heard beforehand that we were among the favorites for the final victory, but I think Ermitage is even better known than me (laughs). This year, together with his owner Joris Van Dijck, we decided to use him as much as possible for breeding, so we actually only had a short preparation. Next to the 3-week Sunshine Tour in February, he only jumped in Moerzeke and in Valkenswaard last summer. Normally Brussels was also on the program, but this fell apart due to a hoof ulcer. The fact that we’ve now earned the Belgian Champion title is not due to the excellent preparation, but to the incredible talent of Ermitage.”
The silver during this Belgian Championship for Seniors went to lady rider Virginie Thonon with the 13-year-old SBS gelding Edgard de Prefontaine (Contact van de Heffinck x Orlando) from breeder Françoise Collart-Duquesne. Thonon started this final day in 4th place and, after a flawless first round, was ultimately very close to gold. She was allowed to start as the penultimate combination during the second and decisive round and a small fault on the penultimate fence ultimately kept Thonon and Edgard de Prefontaine from the national title.
Bronze went somewhat surprisingly to Christophe Vanderhasselt with his 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding Arthuro de Sarlar Z (Breemeersen Adorado x Obourg) from breeder André Tavernier. Vanderhasselt and Arthuro de Sarlar Z were still in 14th place before the start of this final, but thanks to two fantastic clear rounds they made a serious stap in the rankings and so Vanderhasselt was also allowed to take a place on the BC podium.