21 European Championship record breakers you might not believe are true

  • Can you name the first female showjumper to win the European title? And how many times did Ginny Elliot win gold at the Euros — on which three horses? Next month, the best riders in Europe head to the championships for dressage, showjumping, para-dressage and eventing. In anticipation, we take a look back through the history books to bring you some of the weird and wonderful records to have come out of over 60 years of European Championships — and don’t miss the full article in this week’s Horse & Hound, out Thursday 27 July!

    1. Princess Anne (Doublet, pictured) became the first Royal to win a European title in 1971. Her daughter Zara Phillips (now Tindall) repeated the feat in 2005 on Toytown.

    2. In 2011, the Club de Campo in Madrid dug up the grass arena that had hosted jumping for 100 years and put down all-weather for the European showjumping championships. The grass was put back straight afterwards.

    3. The first woman showjumper to claim the European title was France’s Alexandra Ledermann in 1999.

    4. Emile Faurie became the first British medallist at the European dressage championships, winning bronze with Virtu in 1993.

    5. In 2009 Juan Carlos Garcia represented Italy at both the eventing and jumping championships, winning team silver at both.

    6. Another multi-talented horseman was Switzerland’s Bruno Candrian, who won team silver and individual bronze at Munich in 1981. He combined showjumping with a career as a jockey in the 1970s.

    7. Paula Tornquist of Sweden wins the prize for the most dramatic career change — a former pilot, Paula only learned to ride as an adult, taking individual bronze with Monaghan at the European eventing championships in 1999.

    8. Paul Schockemohle and Deister are the only jumping combination to have won three individual gold medals, proving invincible between 1981 and 1985.

    9. From 1965 until 2005 the only country to win dressage gold was Germany (earlier West Germany) — a phenomenal 21 championships in a row. The Dutch rewrote the history books with team gold in 2007.

    10. Mary Gordon Watson’s great Cornishman V became the first horse to hold both the European and World titles simultaneously when winning eventing gold in France in 1969.

    11. Pippa Funnell and Supreme Rock are the only eventing combination to win back-to-back European titles, claiming gold in 1999 and 2001.

    12. Michael Whitaker, Jos Lansink and Harvey Smith have all won three European jumping medals without ever winning gold, while Alwin Schockemohle made it fourth time lucky in 1975 after a bronze and two silvers.

    13. For the first four runnings of the European eventing championships, Great Britain proved invincible, and in the championship’s 64-year history the Union flag has filled all three positions on the podium five times.

    14. In 1985, two equine full-brothers competed in the dressage Euros — Ahlerich, who carried Reiner Klimke to success, and Amon, who was in the Dutch team with Annemarie Sanders. Four years later, the athletic Rembrandt, who was out of a full-sister to Ahlerich and Amon, helped German rider Nicole Uphoff win two golds and a silver.

    15. If reigning European champion Michael Jung can claim a fourth gold in Poland next month, he’ll become the first eventer to do so. He currently shares the record hat-trick of individual golds with Ginny Elliot (nee Holgate and later Leng), who triumphed on Priceless, Night Cap II and Master Craftsman.

    16. Between them, brothers John and Michael Whitaker have won seven individual and 19 team European jumping medals.

    17. At San Patrignano in Italy in 2005, Finnish showjumper Sebastian Numminen made it to the championships from the reserve list and made it all the way through to the individual final with his 16-year-old Cruising son, Sails Away. His 18th place finish was a definite cause for celebration.

    18. Karen Dixon (nee Straker) won individual bronze in 1991, where there was a clean sweep of Brits on the podium, despite a run-out across country on Get Smart, such was the costly influence of the phase that year.

    19. Dutch showjumper, the late Toon Ebben, won team gold and individual bronze in Vienna in 1977 aged 47, but started life as an eventing groom and began competing after grooming at the 1952 Olympics. He jumped at top level for 30 years.

    20. Unlike the showjumping and dressage disciplines, the eventing format has remained largely unchanged since the early days of European championships, other than the move from the long to the short format in 2005, with the loss of roads and tracks and steeplechase. The reverse-order showjumping was first introduced in Punchestown in 1967.

    Continued below…

    21. Women were not allowed to ride on Olympic teams until 1964, but in 1957 Sheila Willcox riding High and Mighty became the first female European eventing champion.

    If you want to enjoy some more weird and wonderful tales from the European Championships, don’t miss the full article in this week’s Horse & Hound, out Thursday 24 July

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