Amazing performances from all of the British combinations in the final show jumping phase at the 2017 FEI European Championships, Poland, sees Great Britain taking home the team gold and individual bronze medals.
Nicola Wilson was the final British rider to enter the arena this afternoon on James and Jo Lambert’s Bulana and, despite having two fences in hand to secure team gold for GB, Nicola pulled off a skilfully ridden clear round on the black mare to confirm GB as the 2017 European Champions.
Nicola went into the show jumping phase in individual fourth place but 12 faults from third placed Sara Algotsson Ostholt (SWE) moved Nicola up the leader board to eventually take the individual bronze medal on a score of 35.5. Germany’s Ingrid Klimke and Michael Jung both produced clear rounds to take the gold and silver medal respectively.
An ecstatic Nicola commented after her show jumping round; “I think I’m still pinching myself. I’m delighted with how Bulana has been this season and she’s been a superstar all week. She’s such a special horse and has just been fantastic this championships. I just can’t thank everyone enough, and I’m so pleased for her owners James and Jo Lambert. I feel very fortunate and lucky to have her, she’s a great friend.
“It’s just been amazing. I feel so incredibly lucky – we’ve had fantastic support from the grooms and owners this week from start to finish.”
All three of the British team riders put in fantastic clear rounds in the show jumping to ensure Britain’s place at the top of the team results. GB stalwart Tina Cook finished in individual fourth place on the young gelding Billy The Red (38.2 penalties), owned by Elisabeth Murdoch and Keith Tyson, and Championship debutant Ros Canter gave a masterful display on her own and Caroline Moore’s Allstar B to finish fifth in the individual rankings (40.2 penalties).
Tina added; “We were really wanting that gold, it’s been a few years and it’s fantastic to be back in this position. It’s been such a strong team performance all week and has just been fantastic. I’m so pleased with Billy The Red, he is such an exciting horse for the future. There have been some amazing riders and horses here, and our support team have just been so brilliant this week.”
Senior Championships first timer Ros said; “To be surrounded by this team and the whole of the GB team has just been fantastic. I don’t think it’s still really sunk in yet. It’s so exciting to be part of this team, with all their experience around me and it’s so special for us all. The excitement of it all is just amazing.”
Gemma Tattersall and The Pebbles Syndicate’s charismatic grey mare Quicklook V, collected eight jumping faults to complete inside the top 10 in eighth place on 44.7 and Piggy French just tipped one fence on Jayne McGivern’s Quarrycrest Echo to finish in 28th place with a score of 87.4.
Following her round Piggy said; “It’s been a nearly but not quite week. Today he just rolled a pole in the jumping but was super everywhere else. He’s really stepped up this week – he’s definitely had his biggest year yet and he’s a very exciting horse; there’s lots to look forward to.”
Gemma commented; “It’s obviously not what I was hoping for. I was really pleased with how she jumped in there, I don’t know what happened at those fences but I’m very happy with her and for the British team.”
Team pathfinder Oliver Townend withdrew Angela Hislop’s Cooley SRS ahead of this morning’s Final Horse Inspection.
With Great Britain taking the team gold on 113.9 penalties, Germany were left in the silver medal position on 123.00 and Sweden bronze with 148.4 penalties.
Full results can be found HERE.
Can anyone break Germany’s firm grip on the FEI European Eventing Championships? That is the question as riders, horses, owners, grooms and trainers from 19 countries, plus a host of volunteers, have been welcomed to the first senior eventing championships to be held at the Stragona Equestrian Center in Strzegom (POL) from August 17-20 and the first one in Eastern Europe since Bialy Bor (POL) in 1986.
The German team is bidding for a fourth successive European team gold medal and world number one Michael Jung, whose extraordinary winning run began in Luhmühlen (GER) in 2011 with the great La Biosthetique Sam, will again be one of the favourites to take the title and, in the process, make eventing history.
The Jung story continued to Malmö (SWE) in 2013, where he triumphed on Halunke, and then in 2015 he produced an unforgettable display of horsemanship on fischerTakinou, galloping through torrential rain at Blair Castle (GBR) in the Scottish Highlands to equal Ginny Eliot’s (GBR) record of three successive titles on three different horses and receive team and individual gold medals from HRH Queen Elizabeth ll.
Now he will be trying to make history on Polish soil, and few would bet against him making it four in a row with fischerRocana FST, known as ‘Roxy’. The brilliant little mare is a dual winner of Kentucky CCI4* and won world team gold and individual silver medals at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy (FRA) in 2014.
A mighty German squad includes three-time Olympic gold medallist Ingrid Klimke (Horseware Hale Bob), and recent Luhmühlen winners Julia Krajewski (Samourai Du Thot).
However, nothing is ever predictable in eventing – that is the joy of the sport – and the name that has been on everyone’s lips this summer is Frenchman Thomas Carlile on the beautiful grey stallion Upsilon, a horse that is hugely talented in all three phases.
Last year at the Rio Olympic Games, the French beat the Germans to team gold and they come to Strzegom on a wave of confidence. They may be missing the Olympic silver medallist Astier Nicolas, who is injured, but France fields riders of the calibre of Maxime Livio, currently ranked fifth in the world, and 2015 individual bronze medallist Thibaut Vallette. Remarkably France, so often the silver medallists, have never won the European team title, but they must surely feel the tide is about to turn.
Great Britain have dominated the European Championships for many years with an unbroken winning run of eight titles from 1995 to 2009, and will be equally determined to regain their place at the top of the leaderboard, as will their new team trainer Christopher Bartle who helped Germany to three Olympic golds and multiple championship medals.
The British squad is headed by Kristina Cook (Billy the Red), for whom it is an eighth European appearance. She is the only mother to have taken the European title, which she did convincingly in 2009 on Miners Frolic in Fontainebleau (FRA).
The strong British line-up includes Luhmühlen runner-up Nicola Wilson on the exciting black mare Bulana - Wilson is the highest ranked rider here at world number four after Jung - plus newly crowned national champion Gemma Tattersall (Quicklook V) and Oliver Townend (Cooley SRS), who is ranked eighth in the world.
Look out also for Belgium’s leading lady Karin Donckers, the world number 10, for whom it is a seventh European Championship, Belarusian Olympic rider Alena Tseliapushkina on Passat, Swiss brothers Ben and Felix Vogg, Swedish sisters Sara and Linda Algotsson and leading Irish couple Michael and Patricia Ryan.
There will be teams from Spain, Italy, Russia and, for the first time in decades, Norway, coached by the great Finnish rider Piia Pantsu-Jonsson, world bronze medallist in 2002.
The action begins tomorrow morning (17 August) when the dressage test starts at 10:00 CEST in front of ground jury Ernst Topp (GER, president), Sue Baxter (GBR) and Slawomir Pietrzak (POL). The Technical Delegate is Gillian Kyle from Ireland and great anticipation surrounds Saturday’s action on the cross country track designed by the German maestro Rűdiger Schwarz, who produced such brilliant sport for the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Aachen (GER).
History is waiting to be made – but who will be making it?
See how you can watch all the action HERE.