Laurence Roos Retires Olympic Ride Fil Rouge from Sport

Tue, 07/09/2024 - 18:44
Laurence Roos and Fil Rouge have their final ride at the 2024 CDIO Aachen :: Photo © Astrid Appels

Belgian Grand Prix rider Laurence Roos has retired her 2021 Olympic ride Fil Rouge from international competition sport. The 19-year old concluded his sport career in the 5* tour at the 2024 CDIO Aachen.

Fil Rouge is a 2005 born Belgian warmblood gelding by Stedinger out of Calluna (by Argentinus x Sandro Hit). He was bred by Louisa van den Boer - Verhoeven in Belgium.

Wayne Channon

Fil Rouge was discovered as a foal by British Grand Prix rider Wayne Channon, who was living in Belgium at the time and found him at the breeders in Lommel.

He reared the horse and saddle broke it before putting him in the collection of the 2009 Equine Elite auction, where the Roos family purchased him as a 4-year old.

From Young Riders to Grand Prix

Etienne Roos first trained the gelding and competed him at the 2011 Belgian Young Horse Championships in the 6-year old division.

At the 2014 European YR Championships
His daughter Laurence took over but in February 2013 the Roos family decided to sell Fil Rouge, but no-one bought him. Laurence carried on with him and it was serendipity as the decision to keep him proved life changing.

"We bought him in an impulsive moment because we originally planned on buying a junior rider's horse. Fil Rouge captured us with his beautiful white nose and we took him home," Roos told Eurodressage. 

In 2013 they debuted in the young riders division. They made their international debut at the CDIO Saumur in April, where they finished second in the individual test. They also competed in Moorsele and Kapellen that year and were 7th at the 2013 Belgian Young Riders Championships.

"In his first international Fil straight away showed his strong character," said Laurence. "The first flying change he did with a buck and just leaving the arena at the end was a big task. At home in training he had periods when he went well and then from time to time it was very difficult. We decided to offer him for sale, but everybody who tried him though he was too strong willed. So we kept going and with some show experience he improved. He's terribly talented for the Grand Prix movements and as it became more difficult through the levels, he focused better."

In 2014 they rode on the Belgian team at the European Young Riders Championships in Arezzo, where they were 34th in the individual test. The team was fifth. They got silver at the 2014 Belgian Young Riders Championships.

Under 25

At the 2016 European U25 Championships
Coached by Jeroen Devroe, the duo made the transition to Under 25 level and showed internationally in Joosland, Roosendaal, Deauville, Lier, and Compiegne. 

Roos and Fil Rouge became Belgium's sole representatives at the  inaugural European Under 25 Championships in Hagen in 2016 and placed 6th in the Kur to Music finals. One month later and six year after Belgian Julie de Deken won the inaugural Under 25 tour at the CDIO Aachen, Laurence claimed the Kur to Music victory in the U25 division in Aachen ahead of the Germans.

On a national level they competed in the senior division and won bronze at the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix Championships.

"When he was at U25 level people came to make an offer on him, but the love between us was too great then," said Laurence who never sold him. 

Belgian Team Horse

As of 2017 the pair competed in the senior division and for five years in a row they were a fixture on the Belgian team with very consistent 70% scoring, often fault-free rides.

At the 2017 European Championships
At the 2017 European Championships in Gothenburg they were 27th in the Special. They got silver at the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix Championships and concluded the year by being named VLP Talent of the Year 2017. At the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, they were 26th in the Grand Prix Special and there was a second silver at the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix Championships.

In 2019 Roos unlocked the Olympic slot for Belgium aboard Fil Rouge as the highest ranked Belgian rider on 31 December 2019. The pair won the 2019 and 2020  Belgian Grand Prix Championships. The Olympics were postponed by a year and Belgium ended up qualifying a composite team to Tokyo (after Ireland and Luxembourg couldn't make it happen). They finished 23rd in the Grand Prix (70.699)% Six weeks after the Tokyo Olympics, Fil Rouge was withdrawn last minute from competing at the 2021 European Championships in Hagen due to an injury.

"It is for sure cliché but the Olympics in Tokyo were his career highlight. Fil Rouge was in the shape of his life then and for me it was a dream come true. The road to get there was sometimes hard but capturing that starting place was the coronation of all the work," said Laurence.

Fil Rouge returned to the arena at the 2022 CDI Opglabbeek and rode in Sint-Truiden, Wiesbaden and Rotterdam but did not make the team for the 2022 World Championships. They were 7th at the 2022 Belgian Grand Prix Championships. Also in 2023 they proved consistency with solid performances, but the level in Belgium had made a jump and competition got tougher for team selection. They didn't make it for the Europeans in Riesenbeck but still got bronze at the 2023 Belgian Championships.

At the 2018 World Equestrian Games
2024 became Fil Rouge's last season with plenty of CDI starts in Neumunster, Lier, Aachen Festival, Hagen, Compiegne, Jardy. They were fourth at the 2024 Belgian Championships. They concluded their sport career in style at the CDIO 5* tour in Aachen, where they scored 67.174% in their last Grand Prix.


Roos announced that the 5* in Aachen would be the best occasion to retire her horse.

"I wanted to end Fil's career in style and Aachen is the place to be. I enjoyed the entire ride: the audience, the feeling Fil gave me, the atmosphere and the memory of what we have accomplished over the years," said Laurence. "Of all the competitions we rode Aachen was the nicest one, especially befause in 2016 we won the U25 as well." 

After Aachen the duo was named second reserve to the Belgian team for the 2024 Paris Olympics but in principle Aachen was his last show. 

"Fil will stay in training because we are on the reserve list but after that he'll go to the field together with my old pony," said Laurence.   

At the 2019 European Championships
"Because of his character we made it to the Olympics, even though it also cost me a lot of tears," said Laurence. "Sport is emotion and I can only look back on a fantastic partnership. He made me into the person I am now today."

Laurence, who is a full-time orthodontist, will continue her sport career with the recently acquired 3-year old Westfalian gelding Sunrise Avenue (by Sezuan's Donnerhall x Finest),

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