Behind the scenes of a ‘closed’ Belgian Championship

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Normally the Belgian Championship is one of the highlights of the year in Lanaken. It usually is organized together with the World Breeding Championships and traditionally takes place at the end of September. This year however, the World Breeding Championships were cancelled and it remained unclear for a long time what would happen with the Belgian Championship.

The Melchior family however decided that the Belgian Championship could take place in Zangersheide, but behind closed doors, no public was allowed. A photo series of probably the strangest Belgian Championship but with an amazing winner: Jos Verlooy won the title for the second year in a row!

The Championship remained exciting until the very last moment. Yves Vanderhasselt was the first rider of the provisional top three to enter the ring. He did what was expected of him and Jeunesse (by Eldorado vd Zeshoek) and jumped a clear round. With this he managed to increase the pressure on Clemens and Verlooy.

Clemens could not afford a time penalty if he wanted to stay in front of Vanderhasselt, Verlooy could. Pieter Clemens, who also won the silver medal last year, was determined to keep the zero with Quintini (by Quintender) and he succeeded At that moment he could only hope that Verlooy would make a mistake. Verlooy knew what to do: jump a clear round.

Of course, Verlooy can handle pressure, he has already proven that several times. With Varoune (v. Verdi) under saddle, he started very promising. And he could keep that promise. He could keep the zero, which immediately means that he succeeds himself as Belgian champion.

Talking to other ‘visitors’ (meaning staff, other journalist or riders), the general tone was that everyone was very happy that the Championship could take place after all. In the end all big competitions were already cancelled this year so the national Championship was something the riders actually were looking forward to. It however was strange, normally the riders have a lot of public to sheer for them, today nobody was there.  “We’re just very happy that we could jump and we really want to thank Judy-Ann for making this happen and put so much effort in it”, Jos Verlooy stated.