For much of the weekend at the Young Rider European Championships in Portugal, it had seemed as if Britain’s Young Riders might emulate their senior counterparts.
Isabelle Taylor had got off to a smashing start to sit in the Gold medal spot going into the show jumping, and the British team were well-placed to take the Silver medal.
This time, however, it was Germany who took their revenge. A minor mistake in the show jumping left Taylor clutching bronze, with German riders filling both of the top two spots.
Taylor has made herself into something of a superstar this year. The 21-year-old fractured two vertebrae at Lummen last July, in a fall from her mother’s Flurry Knox V (pictured). But steely determination had the Salisbury-based rider back on the hunting field by Christmas, and competing again in March.
She has since enjoyed a tremendous season, with an impressive second place at the Windsor CCI** in the face of distinguished opposition, as well as a win in the advanced section of the pre-Olympics event at Aston-le-Walls.
The combination’s personal best in the dressage sent them zooming into the lead early in the competition, almost two penalties clear of Germany’s Isabel Nagel on Blueberry Boy, and a speedy cross country round on Saturday left the pair still in the lead.
But their show jumping, which has looked a little inconsistent in recent outings, let them down badly. The two Germans who had been breathing down their backs – Anna Topf (Antonelli) and Anna Junkman (Cancun) produced immaculate rounds to put Taylor under considerable pressure. She and Flurry Knox made just one error over some planks and they moved into bronze medal position.
Oliver Smith and The Magic Moment didn’t perform quite at their best in the dressage, scoring 54.0 to put him into tenth place. But the gutsy 20-year-old, who claims that riding out for flat trainer Patrick Charnings every morning has hugely improved his attitude to the cross-country, went clear inside the time to move up to fifth place going into the show jumping. But he too, was let down by his show jumping, and moved into eventual eighth place.
The rest of the British crew were hampered by a lack of good fortune – Olivia Haddow, who finished in 13th place overall on Patris Filius, was another rider to fall victim to the demands of the final jumping phase, and dropped from 7th after the cross country.
Alexandra Postolowsky and Flint Curtis lost out on the second day – when they had an unlucky run-out on the cross-country – they dropped from 7th to eventual 17th.
Young Rider European Championships, individual final results:
1. Antonelli (Anna Topf GER) 51.0
2. Cancun (Anna Junkman GER) 52.6
3. Flurry Knox V (Isabelle Taylor) 53.4
4. I’m No Angel (Maire Louise Meyer GER) 54.0
5. Glamour CH (Tiziana Realini SWI) 60.0
6. Micco (Nils Petter Eng SWE) 60.2
7. Super Seal (Philippa Mains IRL) 61.0
8. The Magic Moment (Oliver Smith) 62.0
Final team results:
1. Germany 170.8
2. Great Britain 186.0
3. France 198.6