Jos Verlooy and Varoune (Verdi) started the Belgian championship with the ambition to prolong their title. It would be unique in equestrian history if they succeeded. Even though Ludo Philippaerts previously captured the Belgian title six times, never before did a rider win gold three times in a row with the same horse. Until now that is. Jos Verlooy dit it andscored an amazing hattrick!
A massive crowd of equestrian fans at Domein Zangersheide saw Jos Verlooy claim the title with a total of 6.96 points. Thibeau Spits (Classic Touch DH, Casall), who jumped his first BK with the seniors, stranded on silver with only 0.02 points more (6.98). Gilles Thomas (Konak, Nabab de Reve) took the bronze in 9.60 at his second BK.
In the speed and handiness course on Wednesday, Jos Verlooy finished sixth, just ahead of Thibeau Spits, but after Gilles Thomas, who came in fourth. In the second round on Thursday, all three pairs remained clear. Today, in the first round of the final, Thomas got a rail down a vertical, which proved to be a steep jump for many riders. Spits remained clear and Verlooy finished with one time fault. If I would have lost because of that time fault, I would have been disappointed”, says Verlooy.
At that time, Gregory Wathelet (Faut-Il des 7 Vallons) had already dropped far down the rankings due to two faults. The Olympian started the final as the leader after he jumped excellent clear rounds the first two days. Before the second round today, Spits was in the lead, thanks to Verlooy's time fault. In the challenging final course, all three pairs collected faults along the way this time.
Jos Verlooy got a rail down in the triple jump, Gilles and Thibeau both heard the wood touch the ground on the penultimate obstacle. But because the leader, Thibeau Spits, opted for a steady pace and aimed for a clear round, he went through the finish with also a time fault. And thus, surpassed the number of faults that he could afford. Spits therefore lost the gold by a time fault instead of Verlooy, but the young rider took his loss like a winner. Gilles Thomas in turn was quite satisfied with the bronze.
History would’ve been written in Lanaken either way. For where Thibeau had been the youngest winner ever, Verlooy now won with a hattrick. "I think this victory will be talked about for a long time”, the winner says. "That Varoune is a top horse is nothing new, but the run-up to this BK I had to lean heavily on my team. I was away at a competition abroad and the preparations were fully handled by my team. I therefore dedicate this win to them all!"