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!
On Saturday afternoon, during the FEI WBFSH Jumping World Breeding Championship for Young Horses, it is traditionally time for the denouement of the Belgian Championship for Seniors. The best 16 combinations from the two qualifying rounds 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 section and a strong clear round on Thursday, they started the grand final today as number 2. During the first round, in which only 4 combinations managed to remain clear, Thomas and Ermitage Kalone again confirmed their good form with a neat clear round. Reigning Belgian Champion Nicola Philippaerts was in the lead at the 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 to compete again and had a lead of more than half a penalty point over rider Virginie Thonon. Thomas and Ermitage Kalone managed to keep a cool head and with 1 penalty point before time during this decisive round they wrote this Belgian title to their list of achievements!
Gilles Thomas: “The fact that you can start last in that second round and then become 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 owner Joris Van Dijck, we decided to use him as much as possible in breeding, so we actually only had a short preparation. In addition to the 3-week Sunshine Tour in February, he only jumped in Moerzeke and Valkenswaard last summer. Normally Brussels was also on the program, but this fell apart due to a hoof ulcer. The fact that we have now become Belgian Champions is not due to the excellent preparation, but to the incredible talent of Ermitage.”