Before National Grand Prix action, FEI competitors took to the Grand Prix Arena, and it was none other than Gregory Wathelet back in the winner’s circle aboard his winning mount from Thursday, Berline Du Maillet Z. The pair topped a three-horse jump-off to bring home victory in the $38,700 CWD CSI3* 1.45m Classic.
Kaitlin Campbell was first to jump off with Feyon (Zazou R), putting in a quick clear and making Wathelet chase her. He did just that, shaving off precious time and taking the lead. Laura Hite and Chagall De Toscane (Norton d'Eole) claimed third with another double-clear effort.
“We were only three in the jump-off and I saw [Kaitlin] going; she was really fast,” Wathelet said. “I know my mare is also very fast. I wanted to establish my rhythm. I was a bit lucky to the last one; she twisted a bit to the right but she jumped well. It went exactly to plan.”
The 12-year-old Zangersheide mare (Berlin x Action-Breaker) was off her game Friday in the CSI3* 1.50m Speed, but she redeemed herself by jumping on form Saturday. “I did the big class yesterday and she jumped well but I also tried to go for the time,” Wathelet explained. “She was not really [on her game] yesterday. Today she was perfect. She was nice, relaxed, easygoing, and she did her job. She’ll have a rest next week. We have a few more weeks coming so I won’t jump every week with all of them.”
Wathelet is, without a doubt, an athlete many of the younger and less experienced competitors at DIHP admire and want to watch anytime he is in the ring. For himself, he has his own riders he looks up to, many of which he gets to study frequently being based in Europe.
“We are lucky in Europe that there are so many good riders with different systems,” Wathelet said. “For me it’s very important to try to take the best of each riders and improve myself all the time. The sport is moving up and is getting so fast now so if you don’t improve yourself even when you get good results, [you’re falling behind]. When you think everything is right it’s never right. You need to advance all the time.
“I am a big fan of many riders; [a few in particular are] John Whitaker and, over here, Eric Navet when he was in Europe. He is a super rider with super technique, and I was lucky that when he was in France I was spending a lot of time there. I have learned a lot watching him. That was one of the rides who inspired me.”
Source: Press Release