Germany’s Marco Kutschner has taken over the crown of European Champion from his compatriot Christian Ahlmann with a foot-perfect final round the European Show Jumping Championships at San Patrignano.

As Kutschner entered the arena, he knew only a clear round would be good enough to earn him the title. You could hear a pin drop as this stylish horseman produced a beautiful clear round under incredible pressure to take the gold, after which the German celebrations got underway for the second time.

“I had a fantastic feeling with Montender today” Kutscher said afterwards. “He already jumped unbelievably well as a young horse. I started to ride him when he was seven, we won the German Championship when he was 9 and we had a wonderful Olympic experience last year.

“He is a very handsome horse, and he makes you look good on television,” he added with a broad smile.

Silver went to rising star Christina Liebherr, 26, who became the second woman to win a European medal for Switzerland, some 20 years after Heidi Hauri’s achievement.

Her ride LB No Mercy is an out and out jumper, who had only one pole down during his five rounds at San Patrignano. He did not appear to be giving Liebherr an easy ride in the final round, as he got increasingly strong on the way round, but his careful nature shone through and they completed without faults.

“As I already had a medal with the team, I decided to simply enjoy my ride,” said a delighted Liebherr. “No Mercy is a very attentive horse and we didn’t experience any problem on the course”.

The bronze medal went to Olympic champion Jeroen Dubbeldam and his 10 years old stallion BMC Nassau. Dubbeldam was in fifth place coming into the final round, but benefited from mistakes by Belgian’s Jos Lansink and Germany’s Christian Ahlman.

“I was really not expecting a medal,” declared Dubbeldam. “We had a very difficult season with the Dutch team. I was feeling a bit nervous after my mistake in the first round, but after the first two obstacles, I had a really good feeling.”

Read about the British riders >>

  • Don’t miss Horse 7 Hound’s indepth reports and photographs of all the action from the European Show Jumping Championships in this Thursday’s issue (28 July, ’05)