Stories from the Series: All eyes on Luxembourg

05. Jun 2024 / Category: News

Interview by Christa Dillon

An exciting new addition to the 2024 Longines EEF Series Calendar is the Region West venue of Roeser, Luxembourg. Hosting the second leg for Region West, this Friday we will see the teams fight to qualify for the semi-final in Deauville. Notably, for the first time in the Series, Luxembourg themselves are vying for a spot

At the recent Region West Longines EEF Series competition in Peelbergen, Luxembourg fielded their first-ever team in the Series. Remarkably, three of the four team members were siblings. Basile, Charlotte and Victor Bettendorf were competing together for the first time, and they were joined by Odile Gierech to complete the quartet.

Victor Bettendorf said about the overall experience in Peelbergen: “We were not too bad in the first round, and we were quite happy, but then the second round was a bit disappointing. For our first time, though, it was not too bad. We have a few things to adjust before Luxembourg, and then hopefully we will all jump two good rounds. I have been on a team with my sister Charlotte, but never with all three of us. Peelbergen was also my brother Basile’s first Nations Cup, so it was great.”

Victor is based at the Haras De La Roque stud in Normandy, France, with his partner Adeline Hecart and their two children. Victor and Adeline have implemented a successful system of producing horses for sport, which was also influenced by Adeline’s very successful equestrian parents, Michel and Alexandrine.

To keep the horses close to nature, most remain unshod, with many living in small herd groups. Young horses are given as much time as they need to develop, with an emphasis on the longevity of their career. The horses contest very few age classes, and only begin competing properly at seven years old. The horses do not wear boots and are ridden with as little equipment as possible.

“I have learned a lot about horsemanship since moving to France. My father-in-law, Michel, has taught me so much. It is our job to keep the horses as happy as possible-they are always prepared to do so much for us.”

2023 proved hugely successful for Victor. With his top horse, Mr Tac, he won CSI 5* Grand Prix competitions in Gothenburg, Saut Hermes and St Tropez. He also won at Global Champions Tour competitions in Stockholm and La Coruna with Simolo De La Roque, who Alexandrine bred. Victor and Mr Tac looked sure to represent Luxembourg at the 2024 Paris Olympics, but the relocation of Mr Tac in January means that the race is now on to qualify the striking grey gelding Electro Vd Kromsteeg Z instead.

Producing horses is a long process, and Victor was quick to recognise the advantages of incorporating the Longines EEF Series Nations Cup competitions; “The courses are not too high, but they are technical and demanding enough. It is perfect for horses like the nine-year-old mare Foxy De La Roque, whom I rode in Peelbergen. She has previously jumped a few 1m55 classes, but at this age, I like to move them up and back. I think it is a very good series to bring on horses.”

Looking ahead, Victor is keen for the Luxembourg team to qualify for the Series Region semi finals in Deauville. “We would love to qualify for Deauville. I am based only twenty minutes away, so I would very much like to compete there. I am aiming to jump Foxy De La Roque again at the Luxembourg qualifier.”

Victor has built up an exceptional team of horses, many of which carry the De La Roque title. However, he remains flexible about his aims for the 2024 season; “I stopped making plans because it is hard to anticipate what will happen. I have three really good 9-year-old horses and four or five smart 8-year-olds for this year. I will keep trying to qualify Electro for the Olympics, too. I want to continue producing these horses well, hoping to jump some serious classes next year.”

One vital part of this journey at the people at home, helping car for the horses day in and day out. “The most important people in our sport are the grooms. They are the people behind it all; they are with the horses 24-7, and they are truly passionate about the horses. I think it’s a very good idea to highlight their contributions. It is important to give them credit for what they do.”

With Luxembourg getting their Longines EEF Series Nations Cup campaign off to a positive start, Victor hopes to inspire other Luxembourgish riders.

“Luxembourg is a really small country, so we don’t have much team experience. It isn’t so easy for us to have four or five riders to compete at a high enough level to do the Nations Cups. I can really understand the desire to compete for your country-whenever I have been on a team, it has given me my best memories in the sport. To be competitive and successful in the Nations Cups is really important, and I would love some younger Luxembourgish riders to come through the ranks and be competitive. Our biggest aim is to have a team for the World and European Championships and to be competitive, not just participate. The Longines EEF Series will help us to grow as a team, and my goal for the next two years is for us to build and improve together.”

Horses in focus:

Simolo De La Roque
Sparatacus TN x Upsala de la Roque
Bred by Top Stallions Company
Owned by Victor and Top Stallions Company

Electro Vd Kromsteeg Z
Emeralrd van’t Rutershof x Koko S
Bred by Ann Van Putte
Owned by Victor, Charlotte Philippe and Climaconfort SPRL

Foxy De La Roque
Armitage’s Boy x Samba de la Roque
Owned by Victor, EARL Ecurie and Top Stallion Company