The Equita’ Masters always produce some great stories. After Bosty's win on Myrtille in 2012, the story in 2013 is not bad either. This year we did not get a happy ending "à la française", but the "one-two" for the Stephex stable was a great moment to witness.
The Stephex stable belongs to the Belgian horse-trader Stephan Conter, who notably sold a certain Hickstead to Eric Lamaze. His trading stable has 90 horses near Brussels, plus 250 based with different riders around the country. The idea is to sell them all one day or another: "The market has been so busy these last few years that it is increasingly difficult to resist certain proposals." However, Stephan Conter (nicknamed "Heliconter", because he goes to see the horses that he hears are for sale in a helicopter, so as to be the first person on the deal), has decided to keep – or at least to try to keep – certain top level horses for his two riders, the German rider Daniel Deusser and the Japanese rider Eiken Sato.
And this evening, the two of them gave him the best possible gift in recognition: a "one-two" in the Equita’ Masters! The Japanese rider had taken the lead after two faultless rounds, the second in 42"76. Afterwards, you could see him shaking with nerves in front of the giant screen in the paddock every time a competitor went out. Everything was going fine until his stable-mate jumped a round in 42"43 on Evita van de Veldbalie, pipping him to the first spot by a few tenths of a second."Blast, couldn't you have left me that one?" shouted the Japanese rider when his team mate beat him!
Then, when Daniel came out of the arena, Eiken removed his helmet and bowed his head to his master, à la japonaise:"Those two are great friends," revealed the head of the stable. "They are like big kids and there is not an ounce of jealousy between them. They help each other and give each other advice. So, I'm pleased to make every effort I can to keep some horses for them for the World Cup final and the World Equestrian Games."
Moreover, Eiken was the first to ride Evita at elite level, before handing her back to Daniel: "I made a mistake there," joked the Japanese rider. "I should have kept her." "Particularly as you really don't have to do much to make her go quick. She gallops without any help," added the German, teasingly. Then, on a more serious tone, Conter and his two riders paid tribute to the organisation: "It's really one of the most beautiful competitions in the world," said Daniel Deusser.
"I say it every year, but each time the organisers surprise us with little improvements and attention to small details to make competing in our sport even more pleasant. In particular, I admire the fact that, even though they are organising the World Cup final in six months, they still manage to propose a CSI 5* of such high quality in the same season." It goes without saying that the two friends will now be doing everything they can to qualify for the final in Lyon!
Completed results: http://eventcontent.hippoonline.de/840/sta_erg/14_ergFRA.htm?style=longines