“Welgekomen to Antwerp”: Belgium Hosts this Weekend’s CSI5* and JumpingClash Challenge
Traditionally, Belgium, along with the Netherlands, has been known as one of the ‘low countries’ where much of the land is at or below sea level. But over the next few days, world-class Show Jumpers including Great Britain’s Whitakers and Ireland’s Denis Lynch will be flying high in the northern city of Antwerp at the €155 000 CSI 5* Jumping Antwerpen.
Taking place at the Sloepenweg site on the banks of the river Scheldt in the Flemish Belgian city, Jumping Antwerpen is welcoming many of the planet’s best sport horses and riders back to Europe after the World Cup Final in Omaha, Nebraska, followed by the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) and League in Mexico City and Miami Beach.
Indeed, Antwerp was part of the LGCT last year, and it could return to that circuit as the Tour continues to expand. But in any case, Belgium is a major equestrian country — including as an epicentre of elite sport horse breeding — and that is reflected in the list of this weekend’s competitors.
Daniel Deusser, Christian Ahlmann, Kent Farrington, Simon Delestre, Kevin Staut, Marcus Ehning, Penelope Leprevost, and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson are just some of the names on the list, not forgetting top Belgians like Nicola Philippaerts, representing the host country. Canada’s Eric Lamaze — currently ranked fifth in the world — is also in Antwerp, and that is not surprising. This summer, Lamaze and his entourage and horses will be based at the Ecaussinnes stables of LGCT founder Christophe Ameeuw in the southern part of the country.
Lamaze is also one of the ‘seeded’ riders (based on their rankings) in the JumpingClash Challenge segment of the Antwerp event, a new television-friendly competition format which debuted last Fall at the Madrid Horse Week CSI5* and which has already started in Belgium. The JumpingClash features one-on-one battles between two riders (riding separately), with the direct elimination of the losers every few minutes. Challengers eventually take on top-ranked riders such as Lamaze as the brackets advance, with the final rider crowned champion.
With its newly transformed site and enlarged grandstands to protect spectators against unpredictable April weather, Jumping Antwerpen will offer the public views of not only the best Show Jumping in the world this week, but also the river and striking local landmarks such as the Port House building by architect Zaha Hadid.