After an unlucky thirteenth-place finish at the World Equestrian Games last year, and with a current ranking of sixth in the 2019 FEI Nations Cup series, Belgium has a big job ahead of it as we rocket towards the Longines FEI European Championships – this will, realistically, be their last chance to qualify for a team ticket to Tokyo. The nation, which is better known for its showjumping prowess, failed to send a team to Rio, but its Luhmühlen team is certainly a relatively strong one. Congratulations to:
- Karin Donckers and Fletcha Van’t Verahof, owned by Carl Bouckaert, Joris van de Brabandere, and the rider
- Lara de Liedekerke-Meier and Alpaga d’Arville, owned by Larga SPRL
- Laura Logé and Absolut Allegro, owned by the rider
- Constantin van Rijckevorsel and Beat It, owned by Mr and Mme von Rijckevorsel
- Joris Vanspringel and Imperial van de Holtakkers, owned by Catharina Holtrust-Speerstra and the rider
- Kris Vervaecke and Guantanamo van Alsingen, owned by BVBA Alsingen
Team stalwart Karin Donckers has also been named with a reserve horse, the homebred Lami-Cell’s Iris, owned by Victor Donckers and Lea Sterkens. Karin is easily the most experienced rider on the squad, and her partner, the fourteen-year-old Fletcha Van’t Verahof, the most experienced horse. Karin has competed at six Olympics (1992, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016, the latter of which was with Fletcha Van’t Verahof), seven World Equestrian Games (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018 – the final two with Fletcha Van’t Verahof), six FEI World Cup Finals (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2009), and eleven senior European Championships (1993, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2015, and 2017. In 2015 and 2017, she rode Fletcha Van’t Verahof). The duo wrapped their 2018 season with a win in a CCI4*-S at Le Pouget, and began 2019 with a win in the CCI4*-L at Barroca d’Alva. Though they’ve had a quiet season since their sixth-place finish at Houghton CCIO4*-S, they’ll be the most formidable weapon that Belgium has at this championship.
It’ll be a fourth senior Europeans appearance for Lara de Liedekerke-Meier, who competed at Strzegom in 2017 with Alpaga d’Arville, finishing 29th. They then went on to the 2018 World Equestrian Games – Lara’s third – and finished 42nd. Their best result this year has been a fifth-place finish in a CCI4*-S at their home event, Arville. Constantin van Rijckevorsel brings forward plenty of squad experience, too – he’s contested three Olympics (1996, 2000, 2004) in which he’s recorded two top-ten individual finishes, three World Equestrian Games (1998, 2010, 2014), and six Europeans (1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009). This is the former showjumper Beat It‘s second full season of eventing, but he’s proving an exciting prospect – he finished seventh in his last run, the CCIO4*-S at Camphire last month.
Joris Vanspringel, too, provides a compelling amount of championship experience for the Belgian front: he’s competed at seven Europeans (2003, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017), the World Cup Final at Malmö in 2006, two World Equestrian Games (2014 and 2018), and four Olympics (2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016). With Imperial Van De Holtakkers, he jumped clear around Tryon last year.
Kris Vervaecke contested the World Equestrian Games way back in 1998, and in more recent history, he’s gone to three European Championships (2001, 2011, and 2017). With Guantanamo Van Alsingen, he’s jumped clear in four-stars at Sopot and Strzegom this season. Laura Logé makes her championship debut after a successful summer that has seen her record top-ten finishes at Marbach and Strzegom with the eleven-year-old Absolut Allegro.