(FEI/ /Oliver Hardt for Getty images)
Michael Jung (GER), who has smashed pretty much every record in the sport, has just put himself in line for another – a fourth European title on a fourth horse – having taken the lead at the end of the Dressage phase at the Longines FEI European Eventing Championship in Luhmühlen (GER).
The double Olympic champion, who never gives away a mark if he can help it, has a great reputation for getting the best out of all sorts of horses. With his Luhmühlen ride fischerChipmunk FST, he has the added benefit of the 11-year-old by Contendro having been well established at top level by his former rider, Julia Krajewski (GER).
Jung’s outstanding score of 20.9 – despite a break of pace in the free walk – could not be bettered, even by defending champion Ingrid Klimke (GER), and the German team is now 16.8 penalties ahead of the 2017 winners, Great Britain, with a mere 68.9 penalties on the scoreboard.
“Chipmunk is a fantastic horse. He’s so intelligent and extremely well trained,” said Jung, who blamed himself for the mistake. “He has a lot of power and sometimes there’s a difficult balance between that and keeping him relaxed. Maybe I risked a little bit too much in the walk so he accidentally broke into trot.
"I nearly liked everything in the test today, just not really the walk - the extended walk especially!"
Michael Jung (Germany)
Klimke produced a reliably stellar performance on her regular team partner SAP Hale Bob OLD to score 22.2. Their test reflected a beautifully trained horse and a happy partnership, and Klimke even had time to pat her 15-year-old bay gelding in reward for a smooth flying change.
British individual Laura Collett and London 52, the first-day leaders, are now third, ahead of German team member Kai Ruder (Colani Sunrise) and France’s Lt Col Thibaut Vallette (Qing de Briot).
Regular Dutch team rider Tim Lips has slotted into sixth place on Bayro on a score of 26.0 and three British riders occupy the next three places.
They are headed by team anchorman Oliver Townend, who has been grounded for some weeks after a fall. He put in a solid performance, bar a slight stumble in trot, and is in seventh place on his dual Kentucky winner Cooley Master Class (27.6). Individual runner Kitty King (Vendredi Biats) is eighth on 27.9.
The 2009 champion Kristina Cook, currently ninth on 28.3, is back on the team with a well-behaved Billy The Red. They were dropped from the team last year due to the Balou de Rouet gelding putting in some occasionally explosive Dressage performances.
The Belgian team, which is seeking one of the two precious Olympic qualification slots for Tokyo 2020, is in third place with a team total of 90.9; France, Ireland and Italy follow, with just 3.4 penalties covering the four nations.
Attention is now focused on tomorrow’s Cross Country test designed by Mike Etherington-Smith, who has re-routed the track, allowing plenty of alternative routes while warning that they will cost in time penalties. “It’s beautifully designed and built,” commented Townend.
“I’m a fan of Mike Etherington Smith’s courses. There are no blind questions. If you’re on your line and you and your horse are focused on the job, it should ride well.”
“The way the fences are situated, it’s very easy to make a mistake,” added Townend’s team mate, Kristina Cook, a veteran of nine Europeans and, with pathfinder Pippa Funnell, a member of the winning British quartet 20 years ago here in Luhmühlen.
The overnight leader Michael Jung is also appreciative of the 26–fence track: “It’s a very fair course, to be in the time you have to be fast, you have to take a little bit of a risk, and as faster as you go, as easier you can have somewhere a little mistake.”
Tomorrow promises to be a thrilling competition. First out on course at 10.00 CEST will be the Netherlands’ Merel Blom and Chiccolino.
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(FEI/Oliver Hardt for Getty images)
Belgium leads the team standings at this early stage, with Britain’s Laura Collett holding the individual top spot after the first day of Dressage.
Laura Collett (30) competing as an individual for Great Britain, produced some stunning work to take the lead at the end of the first day of Dressage at the Longines FEI Eventing European Championship Luhmuhlen (GER), but it looks as though the door has been left open for a potential new order tomorrow.
The graceful Collett, a neat rider known for her prowess in this phase, scored 25.5 on the German-bred 10-year-old London 52, a runner-up at Boekelo CCI4*-L last year and winner of the Chatsworth CCI4*-S this year, but only one of the three judges placed her first.
“He’s still a bit green and shy,” explained a delighted Collett of London 52, who made only small errors in the second flying-change and with a misstep in the canter work. “He saw the grandstand and was a little overwhelmed. He’s never been in a situation like this before, but he listened to me and kept his head.”
"He's a bit green and shy....he knows all the moves and trust me so much. If I keep riding and hold his hand, he's all right."
Laura Collett (Great Britain)
“He knows all the moves and trusts me so much. If I keep riding and hold his hand, he’s all right. I’m obviously delighted with his score and it’s exciting for the future.”
The former Junior and Young Rider European Champion is a mere 0.3 ahead of Germany’s second team rider Kai Rüder on Colani Sunrise and France’s 2015 European team and individual bronze medallists Lt Col Thibaut Vallette on the elastic moving Qing de Briot ENE HN.
Both the French army rider, a member of the 2016 Olympic gold medal team, and Rüder are reliably elegant in the Dressage arena and the pair are in joint second place on 25.8 penalties.
“It was a super dressage test with lots of highlights,” commented Ruder. “Colani was very relaxed, with good half-passes and the extended canter was just brilliant. It’s wonderful to see how much he improves from test to test. He’s a very strong character and you have to respect him - then he’ll do anything to please.”
The Ground Jury – Martin Plewa (GER, President), Anne-Mette Binder (DEN) and Peter Andrew Shaw (AUS) – awarded sub 30 marks to seven of today’s 35 riders, including the first two for the Belgian team, Laura Loge (Absolut Allegro) and the hugely experienced Karin Donckers (Fletcha van’t Verahof).
The Belgian pair is in equal fourth place on 28.8 penalties which gives the nation, in search of qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, a boost in first place in the team competition at this stage.
Germany, the host nation, is second – their pathfinder, Andreas Dibowski (FRH Corrida) scored 34.6 – and France is third. Defending champions Great Britain are fifth.
Pippa Funnell (GBR), who won the European title at Luhmuhlen 20 years ago, was a late call up to the team on Monday and is taking the pathfinder role on Majas Hope, currently 17th individually on 35.4. Second to go, Piggy French (GBR) and Quarrycrest Echo, members of the winning team at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon (USA) last year, are in seventh place on 29.8.
“This is no dressage competition,” pointed out French. “I’ve walked the cross-country course once and my first impression is that it’s a proper championship course. You have to think really hard about which lines you choose. It’s a quick track with decent waters.”
Competition is expected to hot up tomorrow when all eyes will be on the defending champion Ingrid Klimke (GER) and her brilliant horse SAP Hale Bob OLD, plus her team mate and three-time champion Michael Jung (GER) with his exciting new ride fischerChipmunk FRH.
Other potential highlights are world number two Oliver Townend (GBR) riding the dual Kentucky winner Cooley Master Class, Ireland’s Sam Watson on the attractive dun Tullaberg Flamenco and France’s dual European champion Nicolas Touzaint (Absolut Gold TDC).
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Click here for the full results.
Watch highlights here.
The U.S. Eventing Team concluded competition at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games capturing the team gold medal and securing their qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games next summer on Sunday. The team finished on a collective score of 91.2, producing four double clear efforts in the final phase. Brazil earned the second Olympic qualification slot and ended on a 122.1 to collect team silver. Canada finished in third place with an overall score of 183.7, for bronze. Individually, Boyd Martin rode Tsetserleg to gold, while teammate Lynn Symansky and RF Cool Play earned the silver. Doug Payne finished just off the podium with Star Witness for fourth place, while Tamie Smith and Mai Baum concluded their weekend in 17th.
Tamie Smith (Murietta, Calif.) and Mai Baum, a 13-year-old German Sport Horse gelding (Loredano x Rike) owned by Alex Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, & Erick Markell, were the first U.S. combination to test the show jumping track, designed by Guilherme Jorge (BRA), and produced a beautiful double clear round to jump-start the day for the United States.
“He feels ready to go again. He just felt great today. He really ate up the atmosphere and couldn’t have been better. I’m really proud of him,” said Smith. “That’s what makes this sport beautiful. I’m just really grateful that my teammates performed great. My horse is wonderful, and we were both a little caught out there yesterday and that won’t be a mistake we have again.”
With the pressure mounting after two strong rounds from the Brazilian team, Doug Payne (Aiken, S.C.) and Starr Witness, an eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Chello III Veneur) owned by Payne, Laurie McRee, and Catherine Winter, navigated the course with determination and speed, securing the second double clear round for the team. Payne was quick to thank the staff, supporters, and fans for their continued encouragement.
“For a championship like this, you show up and the vast amount of support that we get both from U.S. Equestrian, the owners, all of the support staff. We are really the top that’s visible, but we wouldn’t be here without their help, and of course the horses. They put forward a great effort and we’ll forever be appreciative.”
Symansky (Middleburg, Va.) and RF Cool Play had a rail in-hand to keep their second-place position on the leaderboard, but didn’t need it, as the duo crossed through the timers with a fault-free effort. Symansky was complimentary of the team’s performance and the overall efforts displayed throughout the competition.
“This is a group that knows each other already. We all get along really well, and it does make the pressured environment easier when you have a group of people that supports each other when things don’t always go according to plan. It’s pretty special to not have everything go one-hundred percent for everyone yesterday and to come back out and do four clean rounds. It’s a nice feeling to wrap everything up with.”
For Martin, the anchor position for the team was a successful one during both the dressage and cross-country phases, and the final day of competition was no exception. Guiding Tsetserleg, an 11-year-old Trakhener gelding (Windfall x Buddenbrock) owned by Christine Turner, Martin secured not only the team’s gold medal finish but also his own individual gold achievement with their faultless ride.
“This is a big relief. We all worked very, very hard. There was a lot of pressure coming here, and it’s just good to pull off a good performance. I think it was a brilliant competition. It was everything you dream of in a championship. I think the crowd had an exciting contest to the very finish, and this was much harder of a competition than I expected. We came here and were under the gun a bit, and we all stepped out and tried our hardest…we have great horses and good riders. We have the best coach. There was no stone left unturned.”
In a decisive and highly-anticipated competition for the U.S. Eventing Team, Chef d’Equipe Erik Duvander led with a composed and stead-fast aura, giving his team both the guidance and confidence needed to achieve their goal of securing a qualification for Tokyo 2020.
“I’m just honestly really pleased to be a part of this group. Today is the rider’s day and the owner’s day. I’ve seen how much work these guys have put into this; the preparation and how much it means to them, and then be able to execute. I couldn’t wish for a better ending than four clear rounds, and that’s a really strong performance. Everyone stayed on task through to the very end. If we can keep building on what we did here and keep that momentum it will get us closer and closer. It’s about using every day we have before Tokyo to keep improving in the same manner that we’ve been working now,” he concluded.
The competition also marked the end of an era for the U.S. Eventing Team, as Managing Director Joanie Morris completed her final championship competition with the program. Morris, who has been a figurehead within the discipline for the last decade, closed out her tenure accomplishing the only goal for the Pan American Games, earning the coveted qualification.
“I’m incredibly proud of this entire team. This job has been an incredible privilege, and I was proud to see it through to Olympic qualification, as that was the goal here. Individual gold and silver are just the icing on the cake, and it was two riders who have been in this program since the beginning of my time with US Equestrian. I’m very proud of them and look forward to all of the team’s successes in the future.”
For complete results, click here.