Show Jumping

Wathelet Gives a Lesson on How to Make a Good First Impression

One of the many sights Gregory Wathelet is taking in this weekend at Royal Windsor Castle. ©Marina Callahan

Gregory Wathelet (BEL) chose to make his Royal Windsor Horse Show debut Deusser style with a win in the CSI5* Pearl Stakes aboard 10-year-old Zangersheide gelding Spike vd Withoeve.

Not only was it his first time in Castle Arena, but his first 1.55m 5* win with Spike vd Withoeve.

Ireland’s Bertram Allen and Izzy by Picobello set the time to beat early in the 16-horse jump off with a round so deceptively quick live-stream commentator Jon Garner dubbed him “Bertram, the Deceiver.”

Wathelet’s plan? Outrun Allen’s pressure cooking time of 37.17 seconds with a simple equation: increase rate of acceleration and subtract a few strides to be left with a time of 36.59 seconds.

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Wathelet told Windsor TV, “I saw Bertram and he went really, really quick, I knew I had to take some strides out, like one to two and also to the double. I know my horse has a big stride and I use it and okay, it went well today.”

Spike vd Withoeve is a relatively new addition to Wathelet’s string. He took the reins over from France’s Guillaume Fourtrier in July of 2018.

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“He hasn’t done too many big classes like that in his life,” continued the Belgian Olympian.

Friday’s win has Wathelet re-considering his weekend plans for the gelding.

“It wasn’t my plan to ride him on Sunday, but maybe I’m going to change now,” he smiled.

Ce week-end, écurie avec vue sur Windsor Castle pour Spike, Full House et MJT Nevados. Sa majesté est la bienvenue quand elle le désire. 🐴👑🏰🇬🇧🇧🇪

Posted by Gregory Wathelet on Thursday, May 9, 2019

Allen was bumped to the runner-up spot, his second of the day after finishing behind Holly Smith and Fruselli in the morning’s 5* Manama Speed Stakes. Eric Lamaze (CAN) and 13-year-old Chacco Kid tailed closely behind, jumping double clear in a time of 37.58 seconds. The complete results list can be found here.

While waiting eagerly to see if Spike vd Withoeve will appear on Sunday’s CSI5* Rolex Grand Prix start list, head over to HN LIVE! for all the Saturday action. The CSI5* Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes for the King’s Cup kicks off at 8:00 EDT, then the CSI5* Falcon Stakes at 12:50 EDT. This week’s live stream is brought to you by Thunderbird Show Park (Canada and USA only).