European Showjumping Championships: medal predictions and ones to watch

  • H&H’s showjumping editor Jennifer Donald assesses the form ahead of the European Showjumping Championships in this bonus year of back-to-back championships

    THERE’S an invincible air about the Swedish riders this year ahead of the European Showjumping Championships. The dust has barely settled on their gold medal-winning performance at the Tokyo Olympics, where all three team riders also reached the jump-off to decide the individual medals.

    Peder Fredricson came away with the individual silver on his tremendous partner All In and went straight out the following week to land the Longines Global Champions Tour of London grand prix on Catch Me Not S, the 15-year-old gelding he brings to Germany in a bid to regain the European Championship crown he won in 2017 with All In.

    He’s the only rider from Sweden’s trio in Tokyo to contest both championships, but he’s joined by alternate rider Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (Ermindo W) alongside top riders Douglas Lindelöw (Casquo Blue), Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli (Kalinka Van De Nachtegaele) and Evelina Tovek (Winnetou De La Hamente Z). They will surely be the side to beat.

    But the chasing pack will not make life easy and Tokyo bronze medallists Belgium bring two of their Olympians, Pieter Devos and Jérôme Guery, as well as Jos Verlooy and twins Nicola and Olivier Philippaerts. Jos was the individual bronze medallist at the 2019 European Championships and won team gold alongside Pieter and Jérôme.

    France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany remain among the strongest contenders, with the latter surely looking odds-on for a medal on home soil.

    While Switzerland fared less well in Tokyo, you can never overlook a side that has former world number one and the 2012 Olympic gold medallist Steve Guerdat in the squad, as well as the reigning European champion Martin Fuchs. Although he doesn’t bring the sadly injured Clooney 51 to this championship, Martin is equally well mounted with his Nations Cup hero, the nine-year-old Leone Jei.

    While some chefs d’equipe have elected to field younger, less experienced squads – Great Britain included – there are plenty of big names to look out for. Individually, you’ll see France’s former European champion Kevin Staut, the legendary German Marcus Ehning and Dutchman Harrie Smolders.

    Unusually for a nation that has more often fielded veteran riders at championships, Great Britain’s senior team rider next week is 32-year-old William Whitaker (Galtur), the only one of the quartet to have experienced a senior championship. However, he has some seriously talented
    young team-mates in Georgia Tame (Z7 Ascot), Joe Stockdale (Equine America Cacharel) and Emily Moffitt (Winning Good). Both Emily and William were shortlisted for the Olympics and while all four horses are making their championship debuts, this could be a squad with the ambition and drive to succeed on the European stage.

    The 2017 European gold medallists Ireland also come to the championships with a squad with an average age of just 28 but with plenty of experience under their belts. They will be represented by Daniel Coyle (Legacy), Michael Duffy (Zilton SL Z), Marc Mcauley (Jasco VD Bisschop) and Eion McMahon (Chacon 2) with Bertram Allen (Harley VD Bisschop) as reserve.

    So although these championships won’t quite be a battle of the behemoths of the sport in the same way that the Olympics were, those Games will have done plenty to inspire this next batch of medal contenders.

    We’re being treated to two successive championships this year, so brace yourself for plenty more highs, lows, thrills and spills.

    European showjumping championships medal predictions

    Interesting ones to watch

    • Tom De Craene of Belgium has bred three horses at these championships – two on the Irish squad, Mark McAuley’s Jasco VD Bisschop and reserve rider Bertram Allen’s Harley VD Bisschop, both by the sire Dulf VD Bisschop, as well as Belgium team rider Pieter Devos’s Jade VD Bisschop.

    • The Swedish squad rider Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli is married to Marlon Modolo Zanotelli who was on team duties for Brazil at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this month.

    • Portugal’s sole representative in Tokyo, Luciana Diniz, returns from her 10th place Olympic finish to contest the Europeans – this time riding Conchento PS.

    • Brother and sister Victoria, 29, and Johan-Sebastian Gulliksen, 24, are lining up for Team Norway. Their father, the veteran rider Geir Gulliksen, made it through to the individual final at the Tokyo Olympics.

    • Two of Ludger Beerbaum’s employees will be representing their countries “at home” in Riesenbeck – Ireland’s Eoin McMahon and German team rider Christian Kukuk.

    The format

    AFTER the novelty of the Olympics, we return to the “traditional” showjumping championship format. The event runs from 31 August to 5 September starting with the vet-check and warm-up for all competitors on Tuesday.

    The sport begins on Wednesday with the first round against the clock for all riders (team and individual) from which scores and times are converted to penalties. Two rounds of team competition on Thursday and Friday follow. Only the top 10 teams progress to Friday’s medal decider.

    The championships conclude with two rounds of individual jumping on Sunday afternoon. The top 25 combinations will have qualified for round one, with just 12 going on to round two, after which the final medals will be presented.

    Also running alongside the championship all week will be CSI2* and CSI3* classes. The venue for this year’s championships is Riesenbeck in Germany, the home of the legendary Ludger Beerbaum who will be hosting the event. A total of 23 nations are sending 76 horse and rider combinations.

    • For more information on the forthcoming European Showjumping Championships, turn to p34 of Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 26 August

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