Britain’s eventers easily won their seventh consecutive team gold medal at the European Championships in Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, but Zara Phillips’s perfect championship record went bust when Toytown stopped in the show jumping.
The defending World and European champion was clear until fence nine, a seemingly innocuous parallel, where he just didn’t get the four strides from the fence before and most uncharacteristically put on the brakes. He jumped it next time but again knocked it down, and had one more down to put himself out of the medals.
Dropping to sixth, Zara left the ring in tears — the fact that she has still gained her Olympic qualification for next year must seem scant consolation.
“It didn’t go right for me, but I’m really happy for the team and for Mary,” she said later.
Nicolas Touzaint (pictured), the overnight leader, jumped a beautiful clear to take the individual title for the second time on Galan De Sauvagere. This great horse, who won at Punchestown in 2003 and so nearly became Olympic champion in Athens the following year, richly deserves to be European champion again with his 27-year-old rider.
Mary King was also clear and rose from fourth to take the silver medal on Call Again Cavalier. At 46, and with two children, many riders’ careers would be over. Mary’s is as strong as it has been for the past two decades.
And Germany’s Bettina Hoy, who has missed out so often, won bronze after having one show jump down on Ringwood Cockatoo.
The two French individual riders, former World champion Jean Teulere and Cedric Lyard, followed in fourth and fifth. Zara was sixth, one place ahead of Britain’s Daisy Dick, who knocked two fences down on Spring Along.
Britain went in to the final day virtually assured of gold. When Hinrich Romeike’s horse was withdrawn with a chipped stifle, the German team were out, so Britain started with 22 fences in hand over the French. Oliver Townend and Flint Curtis jumped a good round with one down, but even finishing in 12th place, he was the discard score.
The French picked up silver and have qualified for Hong Kong, and so did the delighted Italians, who won bronze. This was secured by an eight-fault round from Vittoria Panizzon on Rock Model, and the supportive Italian crowd went wild.
The Belgians were unlucky to miss out — they have performed well all week, and Joris Van Springel jumped clear today on Bold Action for ninth place individually.
Britain’s individual riders, Georgie Davies and Rodney Powell, and one and two fences down respectively and finished 28th and 40th.
1. Nicolas Touzaint (FRA) 29.4
2. Mary King (GB) 41.3
3. Bettina Hoy (GER) 42.3
4. Jean Teulere (FRA) 49.7
5. Cedric Lyard (FRA) 51.1
6. Zara Phillips (GB) 51.6
7. Daisy Dick (GB) 53.1
8. Vittoria Panizzon (ITA) 60.3
9. Joris Van Springel (BEL) 67.1
10. Ingrid Klimke (GER) 68.7
1. Great Britain