Britain’s pony teams shone in all three disciplines at the European Pony Championships in Pratoni del Vivaro this weekend, winning team gold and individual bronze in eventing, team silver and individual gold for show jumping and team bronze in the dressage.
The Derby House British Pony Eventing Team has started what British Eventing hopes will be a run of medal success. Exceptional dressage tests from Laura Collett and Emma Hancox partnering Irish-bred siblings, Noble Spring Bok and Irish Beauty 2, left Britain in second position at the end of day one.
Chairman of selectors Ginnie Keen described the cross-country as “beautifully built on undulating hills”. Luckily the forecasted temperature of 45C, dropped to 38C on cross-country day. “I think the optimum time was kind, in as much as there weren’t many time faults. This was probably because the temperature was predicted to be hotter,” Keen explained.
A pimple on a hillock and two corners in a farmyard towards the end of the course caused a fair amount of trouble, but Tor Davis (Miami Gold), Emily Llewellyn (Bally Duff Rusty) and Laura Collett all produced confident clears.
The show jumping course was inviting and up to height. “It was a lovely course but produced few clears, only seven clear rounds in total,” said Keen. Emily Llewellyn and Tor Davis clocked up just 11pen between them and Laura Collett jumped clear, ensuring Britain remained in pole position. Finishing on her dressage score of 41.2, Collett also retained her third place and the individual bronze medal. To British grooms also won the best turned out team prize.
‘We’ve had a ball!’ Ginnie Keen enthused, “Peter Welch told the team he would wear a thong if they won gold. He borrowed one of Maria Wynne, who came on behalf of our sponsor Charles Owen, but thankfully he wore it over his trousers”.
Not to be out done by the eventers, Britain’s pony show jumpers put up a stunning performance, finishing in silver medal position, just one fence behind the Netherlands.
Emily Davies (Walmore Diamond Quest) produced one of the few clears in the first round and Sarah Needham (Lacken Shaft) and William Whitaker (Colton Maelstrom) both jumped clear in round two. In the individual competition Louise Saywell (CJ’s Kemosabi) produced one of the few double clears of the day on, taking individual gold with William Whitaker finishing in fifth place.
In dressage, an outstanding performance from Samantha Harrision (Manitu N) achieved an impressive 70.75%, while 15-year-old Georgina Roberts (Nadirs Gigalo) was hot on her heels with 69.00%. Consistent tests from Alice Thompson, 14, (Diamond Rubin) and Portia Manning, 15, (DHI Langar) both attained scores of over 65%.
The British team were delighted to receive the bronze medal, with Samantha Harrison finishing fifth individually. Germany won the competition on a score of 221,684%, less than five penalties ahead of the Netherlands with Germany’s Anna Negri being awarded individual gold.