With three riders in the top four, Belgium was well represented in the 5* Grand Prix KBC Bank en Verzekering, but none of our riders could beat the American rider Jessica Springsteen. However 18 year-old Thibeau Spits – Paardensport Flanders Talent of the Year – did surprise by claiming the third place in this 5* competition.
Pieter Devos was the first to take on the barrage with 9 competitors left and managed to finish the jump off with his 10 year old gelding Carpe Diem DV Z (Contact Van De Heffinck) in only 36.64 seconds. Thibeau Spits followed second with Classic Touch DH (Casall ASK). The young 18 year old was announced as the Talent of the Year by Paardensport Vlaanderen and surprised everyone by finishing a clear round in only 35.50 seconds, with which he took over the first place. Three combinations later, Rider of the Year Niels Bruynseels took his chance with the 9-year-old Kopernic van Orti (Diamand De Semilly). The duo finished in the baffling time of of 34.28. But Jessica Springsteen proved to be a more than worthy contestant in our own Nekkerhal when she entered the arena with Volage du Val Henry (Quidam De Revel). For a moment, it looked like it would be a neck on neck race, but while taking the first-to-last jump, she managed to create a gab. With a difference of only one tenth of a second, she claimed the KBC-trophy.
Following the competition, Niels Bruynseels commended the young Jessica: “You can believe me when I tell you Jessica Springsteen is a real natural talent. If she wins, it is because she was the best rider in the competition.” Tomorrow, Jessica Springsteen will celebrate her 28th birthday. But by taking first place in the 5* competition last Saturday, she becomes one of the top favourites for the FEI Jumping World Cup in Malines. On asking how she will prepare, Jessica told us she “loves to go out for a jog, listen to some good music and she tries to relax as much as possible”.