Daniel Deusser & First Class von Eeckelghem competing at CHIO Aachen 2016.
Stephex Stables has announced the heartbreaking loss of one of its very best horses, the Olympic bronze medalist First Class van Eeckelghem. The 12-year-old BWP gelding (Balou du Rouet x Paprika Van’T Steenputje) succumbed to colic on Thursday, June 29, 2017.
With rider Daniel Deusser, the personable chestnut gelding jumped his heart out at top venues around the world, and helped Germany earn the team bronze medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
“There are no words to describe what feelings go through my mind and heart, today I say goodbye to a friend,” said Deusser in a statement released by Stephex Stables. “From the first day I sat on you, I knew we were destined to achieve greatness although our beginnings were a bit shaky and okay admit now, First Class you were not the easiest but nevertheless your heart was great and your fighting spirit amazed me. From our first Grand Prix win to our title as German Champions and that Olympic medal wrapped around my neck it’s by any doubt YOU I owe it to.
“You were a once in a lifetime horse that I will always carry in my heart, RIP my friend.”
First Class earned multiple top-ten finishes around the globe during his career, including at the 2016 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, Spain, where he again was instrumental in achieving victory for Germany. With Deusser he finished 3rd in the 2015 IJRC Rolex Top Ten at CHIO Geneva, and came 2nd in the LGCT Grand Prix of both Chantilly, and Doha in 2016.
First Class was owned by Stephan Conter of Stephex Stables, who commented, “I did not ride you but I know what joy you brought to Daniel, me and our team. About me as a horseman and owner you have made most of my dreams come true in the sport. I know now what has been lost and will hardly be replaced. THANK YOU First Class and rest in peace!”
Our deepest condolences go out to the entire team at Stephex Stables, including First Class’ dedicated grooms Sean Lynch, and Jessica Ylva Bruno.