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Marcus Ehning and Comme il faut race to victory in the five-star Grand Prix qualifier presented by Audi at the Brussels Stephex Masters

Friday, 31 August 2018
CSI5* Brussels Stephex Masters 2018

Photo (c) Pierre Costabadie/Scoopdyga Marcus Ehning and Comme il faut won the five-star Grand Prix qualifier presented by Audi at the Brussels Stephex Masters. Photo (c) Pierre Costabadie/Scoopdyga.

After a jump-off that was quicker than the speed of light, Marcus Ehning could drive home in a brand-new Audi Q2 following Friday night’s CSI5* Grand Prix qualifier presented by Audi at the Brussels Stephex Masters.

A total of 46 horse-and-rider combinations came out for the first round set at 1.55m, and eight of them managed to produce clears within the time-allowed – a factor that caught out quite a few this evening.

Under the floodlights, and with a fantastic atmosphere created by the Belgian crowds that had met up plentiful to watch the world’s best in action, the eight clear pairs returned for the jump-off over a shortened track.

French speed merchant Julien Epaillard was first to go, and went all in with his home-bred Usual Suspect d’Auge (Jarnac x Papillon Rouge) to stop the clock at 41.63 seconds. As next in the ring, USA’s Laura Kraut rode a slightly more steady round on Zeremonie (Cero x Quick Star) – that will be travelling to the World Equestrian Games in Tryon next month – to slot in behind with a time of 45.18 seconds.

After a disappointing rail for Belgium’s own Olivier Philippaerts and H&M Legend of Love (Landzauber x Corgraf), home hero Niels Bruynseels made up for that with a blistering fast round on the feisty 10-year-old chestnut mare Lady Cracotte (Quaprice x Galoubet A). Taking out one stride on the line after the double as well as to the final fence, Bruynseels went into the lead with a time of 40.49 seconds.

One rider later, Ireland’s Darragh Kenny gave it a good go on Balou du Reventon (Cornet Obolensky x Continue) but it was just not enough to catch Bruynseels and he slotted in behind – 0.35 seconds slower.

As second last to go, Marcus Ehning – one of the fastest, most precise as well as stylish riders in the world – went to work and in usual style he made the seemingly impossible possible. Blazing around on the super quick 13-year-old stallion Comme il faut (Cornet Obolensky x Ramiro), the German maestro tightened the turns absolutely everywhere and got an incredibly good shot at the second last jump before he raced down to the last to cross the finish line in 39.24 seconds to standing ovation from the crowds.

Last to go, Stephex Stables’s own Jonna Ekberg had a more or less undoable task and had to settle for seventh place this time around – leaving the podium to Ehning, Bruynseels and Kenny.

“I watched Niels go, and I thought it was game over,” Ehning said after his win. “But I had a very nice round, and I had a super turn to the second last fence. Thanks to Comme il faut, he made it today!”

“Comme il faut is unbelievable, so clever! He knows exactly where the poles are – he is such an amazing horse,” smiled the happy winner.

“It’s my first time here at the Brussels Stephex Masters, and I am very impressed. It is really amazing what Stephan has done here, just incredible!” concluded Ehning.

Maikel van der Vleuten on a winning streak

Photo (c) Jeroen Willems Maikel van der Vleuten is in top form at the Brussels Stephex Masters. Photo (c) Jeroen Willems.

After winning the opening five-star competition yesterday and then following up with a third place-finish in the Grand Prix qualifier presented by Carlsberg, Maikel van der Vleuten continued his winning ways when taking the top honours in Friday afternoon's CSI5* 1.45m presented by Patache d’Aux.

The world ranking class had 38 horse-and-rider combinations in it, and setting off as number six in the ring Van der Vleuten took the lead with a time of 57.71 seconds aboard Dana Blue (Mr. Blue x Hemmingway). No one could catch the Dutch rider, closest came Mexico’s Eugenio Garza Perez on Bariano (Jetset-D x Skippy), finishing in 59.09 seconds. Third place went to Ireland’s Denis Lynch on RMF Fairview (Alimo x unknown), that recorded a time of 59.25 seconds.


Press release from Brussels Stephex Masters

Photos © Pierre Costabadie/Scoopdyga and Jeroen Willems

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