Last Tuesday (January 21st), the Belgian Equestrian Federation organized the second edition of the Equigala. During the gala dinner we had a chance to look at the magnificent Belgian results and events of 2019. The Equistar awards were presented in five categories: Best Athlete, Best Team, Best Performance, Best Rookie, Best Horse. H&M Extra, the horse with whom Olivier stayed double clear throughout different Nations Cups last year, was nominated for the last one.
There was no ‘grand cru’ for our family in comparison to last year’s Equigala, so there was no trophy for one of us neither. However, Olivier took the award of ‘Team of the Year’ with the Belgium team for the European Championships, but he didn’t had to ride at the championships himself.
In 2020, we all hope to be represented in our category: Anthony, Thibault, Olivier and Nicola. Wednesday morning, the twins left to Oliva again to continue their preparation of the season. A big challenge awaits them in this Olympic year.
- Rookie of the Year: THIBEAU SPITS
The 18-year-old Thibeau Spits from Sint-Katelijne-Waver won individual bronze at the European Junior Championships in Zuidwolde. Paardensport Vlaanderen already crowned him Talent of the Year at the end of 2019. He jumped the CSIW5* at Jumping Mechelen for the first time and rode the 5* Grand Prix in Waregem.
- Best Horse: IGOR (Jos Verlooy)
The 12-year-old gelding Igor (BWP) was the absolute sensation of 2019. Together with Jos Verlooy, Igor won team gold medal and individual bronze the European Championships in Rotterdam. Igor is the result of combining legendary progenitor Emerald van’t Ruytershof with Tinica (Nabab de Rêve - Inica x Gibramino). Owner: Euro Horse BVBA and Graziella Janssen. Breeder: Maarten Van Waes.
- Best Team: GOLDEN TEAM EC ROTTERDAM
De Belgian Jumping team -Pieter Devos, Gregory Wathelet, Jos Verlooy, Jérôme Guery and Olivier Philippaerts as 5th man rode history winning Team Gold at the European Championships in Rotterdam last summer. Their victory opened their road to the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Their bondscoach is Peter Weinberg.
- Jury’s Trophy: PARA DRESSAGE TEAM EC ROTTERDAM
The para-dressage riders won no less than 6 individual medals at the EC in Rotterdam. Silver and bronze for Manon Claeys (San Dior), twice bronze for Michèle George (Best of 8) and twice bronze Barbara Minneci (Stuart). Kevin Van Ham (Eros) completed their Belgian Team. Bondscoach: Walter Van Haegenborgh. The Belgian team won the Nations Cup in Macon (France) last week and are now amost sure of a qualification fort he Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
- Best Athlete: PIETER DEVOS
2019 was a spectacular year for Pieter Devos. Devos won Team Gold at the EC in Rotterdam. He also ended up second in the final ranking of the Global Champions Tour and wos crowned best rider of the Global Champions League. Devos won the World Cup Qualifier in Stuttgart. And is the highest ranked Belgian rider on the list (6th).
- Achievement of the Year/Equistar: JOS VERLOOY
At the age of 23, Jos Verlooy won not only Team Gold but also individual bronze with Igor at the EC in Rotterdam, enough for the best performance of 2019. A few weeks later, he became Belgian Champion with another gelding.