10 eventing season surprises in 2015 we would never have predicted

  • As this year’s eventing calendar turns its final page, H&H’s eventing editor rounds up the biggest shocks of the year

    1. Michael Jung falling off at Burghley

    That Michael was the joint dressage leader was no surprise to anyone, but we certainly didn’t expect him and Kentucky winner FischerRocana FST to plunge into the water after just four fences across country (pictured). Of course, he did go on to win with La Biosthetique-Sam FBW, despite a broken bone in his ankle, so it was quickly back to business as usual.

    2. Zara Phillips having to withdraw from Kentucky at the last moment

    The American crowd couldn’t wait to see the Brit make her debut at the US four-star, but High Kingdom injured himself in his stable just before his dressage test — and wasn’t seen in competition again all year.

    3. Ireland failing to complete a team at the Europeans

    After their great efforts at last year’s World Equestrian Games (WEG) where they qualified for the Olympics, there were hopes the riders from Emerald Isle could keep it up, perhaps even challenge for a medal at Blair. But it all came to naught when three of their four riders fell across country.

    4. Astier Nicolas beating Michael Jung at Pau

    In doing so he denied the German phenomenon his third four-star victory of the year and became the first Frenchman to take the Gallic four-star since Nicolas Touzaint won it in 2007.

    5. Holly Woodhead becomes a serious player on the senior scene

    Last year’s British young rider individual silver medallist was still eligible for under-21s this season and not really on anyone’s radar for Blair at the start of the year, but after her win in the under-25 class at Bramham she blasted into the senior squad for the Europeans. Ok, so there was no fairytale ending after a stop across country, but her stellar dressage tests at both Aachen and Blair show she will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

    6. Tina Cook and De Novo News being left out of the European Championships squad 

    This is the first year Tina has not been on Team GBR since 2007 — except for 2011 when Miners Frolic was seriously ill — and she was an unexpected omission following the pair’s valuable contribution to team silver at last year’s WEG. The story had a tragic epilogue when De Novo News contracted pleuropneumonia and had to be put down.

    7. Julien Despontin leading the dressage at Luhmühlen

    I mean, who is Julien Despontin? It turns out he is a rather charming, good-looking young Belgian — I recommend checking him out on this video.

    8. The national under-18 championships moving away from Weston Park and the announcement the venue will no longer run a three-day in the autumn

    I mean, the JRN Championships (ok, I know it’s not called that now, but that’s what we all still call it) at Weston was an institution.

    9. Jane Holderness-Roddam making a comeback to eventing

    The Olympic gold medallist rode in her first one-day event for 13 years and raised over £12,500 for World Horse Welfare and The Brooke.

    10. Apologies for ending this on a sombre note

    Who would have thought our two leading riders of the past decade, Andrew Nicholson and William Fox-Pitt, would both have serious falls in 2015? Andrew’s last fence accident at Gatcombe and William’s at an owl hole at Le Lion d’Angers have cast a long and ongoing shadow over the end of the 2015 season.

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