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Francois Mathy Jr takes the Grandstand Welcome Stakes at HOYS

Friday, 05 October 2018
CSI3* Horse of the Year Show / Birmingham 2018

Photo (c) 1st Class Images. Francois Mathy Jr and Falco van de Clehoeve. Photo (c) 1st Class Images.

Belgium's Francois Mathy Jr staved off a powerful British challenge to win the opening international class of Horse of the Year Show at the NEC Genting Arena in Birmingham. Francois, riding 13-year-old gelding Falco van de Clehoeve (Quickfeuer van Koekshof x Fellini), posted a time of 54.23 seconds in the Grandstand Welcome Stakes - a one round speed class that produced some thrilling rounds - to take the £3,300 top prize.

Britain's Guy Williams and Thais D'La Verrerie (Socrate de Chivre x Maestro du Manoir) went closest to knocking Francois out of top spot in the Andrews Bowen International Arena, but despite a concerted effort to attack the leader's time, they finished just outside in 54.68.

Yorkshire-based Paul Barker, meanwhile, took third on Happy Boy (Kannan x Kimball) after setting the early pace in 55.70, while Francois' fellow Belgian Karel Cox was fourth with Kill Bill Max (Toulon x Quintus d'09). The quickest time among 26 starters was posted by Matt Sampson, who clocked a rapid 51.94 seconds aboard Doriena (Cardento x Goodtimes), but they had the penultimate fence down to dash victory hopes.

Francois, a prolific winner on the European and British circuits, said: "I am very happy. It is the nicest way to start the show for us, and it will be even better if we can finish it the same way. He is a naturally very quick horse, but Guy was very fast also, and it was really close between us. I am competitive, and when we come to these kind of shows it is to try and do well."

Horse of the Year Show celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, and Francois added: "I love coming here. I have been to this show many times - it has always been an important one for me - and I really love it. There is so much tradition, which is what I love about it."

Press release from Horse of the Year show // Photo (c) 1st Class Images. 

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