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The year in review – with Gilles Thomas: “There is always something to learn”

Friday, 30 December 2022

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ.
A win in the CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix of Hickstead, a win in the CSIO5* Longines Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, a third place in the CSIO5* Rolex Grand Prix of Calgary and a fourth place finish in the CSI5* Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva – check, check, check and check for Gilles, all in a year’s time. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping


Looking back at 2022, World of Showjumping sat down with Belgium’s shooting star Gilles Thomas – who has had an incredible year. A win in the CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix of Hickstead, a win in the CSIO5* Longines Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, a third place in the CSIO5* Rolex Grand Prix of Calgary and a fourth place finish in the CSI5* Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva – check, check, check and check for Gilles, all in a year’s time.

A really good year

“I had a really good year, so there are several highlights for me,” Gilles smiles. “My first five-star win at Hickstead was one of the highlights for sure, as was placing third in Calgary and winning the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona. Those three results I will remember for a long time. And then on top came Geneva!” 

“At Hickstead, I was actually there as a reserve rider for the Belgian team,” Gilles recalls. “I was not riding in the Nations Cup, so it was a long weekend for me. I felt like I was waiting for the Grand Prix all week and then at the end that maybe was my luck; that I did not have to ride the Nations Cup and therefore my horse was still fresh for the Grand Prix.”

All about the team

“This year I did many five-star shows all over the world, gained a lot of experience as a rider, and my horses also learned a lot. I did more five-star shows than two-star shows, which was nice. What I enjoy the most are the Nations Cups, because I really like to ride for a team. I think I am a good team player, already from my years in the youth classes.” 

“The victory in Barcelona was amazing; winning with the team is something really special. If you win a Grand Prix, yes you are happy, but winning together with a team is even nicer. That is why, if I can help others, I try to be there for everyone. In the Global Champions League, I have been on the team with Marcus Ehning and John Whitaker, and it has been a great opportunity to learn from them. That is why I am always watching every round,” the 24-year-old – who consistently can be seen on the sidelines keeping an eye on his teammates – says.

Dreaming of Aachen

Looking ahead to 2023, there is one venue Gilles would want to have a go at: CHIO Aachen. “I did Calgary and Geneva this year, but I did not get to do Aachen yet, that would be a dream to ride there once,” he says. “So maybe next year, maybe with my horse Aretino that has jumped so well on grass…. maybe Aachen would suit him as well.”


30.12.2022 No reproduction of any of the content in this article will be accepted without a written permission, all rights reserved © World of If copyright violations occur, a penalty fee will apply. 


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