William Whitaker set the first clear in the jump-off as pathfinder, stopping the clock at 48.95 seconds. One rider later, Gerardo Menendez Mieres (ESP) shaved off 0.20 seconds on Whitaker’s time riding Cassino DC (Cassini I x Reichsgraf) – taking over the lead.
It was short-lived however, as next to go was Gudrun Patteet (BEL) who set off in an unparalleled pace aboard Sea Coast Pebbles Z (Picasso x Flamenco Semilly). Perhaps inspired by her speed win in the first five-star class of the day, Patteet did not once pull back – taking every imaginable risk. Coming full speed down the diagonal towards the huge orange oxer half-way before she turned as sharp as she could to the next vertical, she made the crowds gasp for air. Flying into the penultimate oxer, she was lifted on by the home audience on the final stretch that went all the way from one side of the arena to the other – and when she cleared the last Rolex upright it exploded at Knokke Hippique.
With a time of 44.33 seconds, it looked like catching up with Patteet would be a nearly impossible task – and that was also how it turned out.
One rider later, Pieter Devos – winner of the Top Series Grand Prix presented by BMW – made it a valiant effort. Although very fast, his horse Espoir (Surcouf de Revel x Laudanum xx) spends a bit more time in the air than Sea Coast Pebbles Z and crossing the finish line Devos was 0.53 seconds behind.
Those who came tried, but in vain – Patteet remained the leader. Even Niels Bryunseels (BEL) – known to be one of the fastest on the circuit and winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at Brussels Stephex Masters last year – had to see poles fall in the chase, as did Jérôme Guery who won the Grand Prix at Knokke two years ago.
Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) gave Patteet a run for the money though, but despite racing down to the last upright on the super quick mare H&M Legend of Love (Landzauber x Corgraf), he could not cover as much ground in each stride as his compatriot and slotted into third with a time of 45.40 seconds.