Germany may not be European dressage champions any more — but at the HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships in Luhmuhlen they stole the equivalent crown in eventing in spectacular fashion.
In a clean sweep, they won every medal available — team gold for the first time since Kiev in 1973, with Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam adding the individual title to their world crown. Silver went to team debutant Sandra Auffhart on Opgun Louvo, and bronze to German individual Frank Ostholt on Little Paint. Yet another German, Dirk Schrade, finished fourth.
“It’s an absolute dream, and that it happened here in Germany is so special,” said Michael Jung. “To hold the top four places is exceptional for any nation.”
Showjumping drama to the end
Over a beefy showjumping course, the German squad once again showed their class, producing clear after clear over a track that brought widespread faults elsewhere. Once remaining team members Sandra Auffhart and Michael Jung had clears in the bag, the gold was never in doubt. German’s only sadness was that overnight leader and national darling Ingrid Klimke scored a cricket score of 24pen with FRH Butts Abraxxas. The chance of any individual medal slipped from their grasp, though such was Germany’s lead, it did not affect the team position.
A gripping battle for silver unfolded, between Britain and France, who rose to bronze position after cross country behind GB. With Nicola Wilson and Piggy French both knocking down a fence apiece, and the French trio all clear, the silver depended on William Fox-Pitt and Cool Mountain going clear. It was not to be; they too had one down.
A ‘new benchmark’ for Greenwich
“Given the circumstances we are very proud of our bronze medal,” said William, and Piggy French paid tribute to the Germans who were “in a different league” at this event.
After his cross-country antics yesterday, William was asked to stand up at the later press conference to show off the length of the legs that had saved him from a dunking. Mary King, back at the event today none the worse for her fall yesterday, also congratulated the Germans: “They have given us a benchmark we need to exceed for Greenwich next year.”
Will Connell, Britain’s World Class Performance Director, said: “It’s always sad to end a winning run, but this is a strong team and we’ll be back in 2012.”
Gold Germany (124.3pen)
Silver France (151.1pen)
Bronze Great Britain (154.6pen)
Gold Michael Jung, La Biosthetique Sam FBW (GER), 33.3pen
Silver Sandra Auffarth, Opgun Louvo (GER), 37pen
Bronze Frank Ostholt, Little Paint (GER), 40pen
7th William Fox-Pitt, Cool Mountain (GBR), 46.7pen
9th Piggy French, Jakata (GBR), 51.2pen
16th Nicola Wilson, Opposition Buzz (GBR), 56.7pen