Britain has secured its qualification for a showjumping team to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The team finished fourth today (21 August) in the Mercedez-Benz-sponsored class at the FEI European Showjumping Championships in Aachen, Germany, just 0.76 of a penalty behind the bronze medal-winners.
“I didn’t know we’d qualified until I came out of the ring — obviously now we’re disappointed not to get a medal, but the qualification was plan A,” said Joe Clee.
Joe had a fence down today, his first of the championship, when Ludwig Criel’s Utamaro D’Ecaussines took off the back bar of the oxer out of the treble at fence five. He still holds eighth individually ahead of Sunday’s final, although he is painfully aware that had he gone clear, he would be in the lead.
Ben Maher was Britain’s best performer today, conjuring a vital clear from Tatiana Korsakova’s Diva II.
“She’s in the form of her life and going to the normal jumps today I was comfortable, but I wanted to get the combinations out the way after our blip yesterday,” said Ben, who crashed through the final oxer yesterday when the mare took off a stride early.
“Today’s combination wasn’t the nicest to come to without being able to train and regroup, but she jumped fantastically.”
Ben is now in 10th place individually.
Jessica Mendoza, 19, found her form when it counted today. Having been the team’s drop score for the previous two days, she cleared all the fences today, with her mother Sarah’s Spirit T just dropping a foot in the water for four faults.
“I was so concentrating on going clear, I could have focused more on the water, but I’m really happy,” she said.
Michael Whitaker’s young horse, Beverly Widdowson’s Cassionata, was tired today after two fantastic performances. He lowered both the second part of the double of verticals over water trays (12b) and the final fence (13), as well as adding a time-fault.
“He’s jumped unbelievably, but he’s not used to doing three days in a row,” said Michael.
Irish appeal after O’Connor’s round interrupted
Britain may be celebrating, but Ireland’s Olympic qualification hangs in the balance [READ AN UPDATE]. Cian O’Connor jumped clear up to fence 10 on Good Luck, but as he rounded the mound to the next obstacle, a man was in his way. He had fence 11, the red DHL oxer down.
“I had to shout at him to get out of the way and it put me off my line, the horse sidestepped him a bit — it was as clear as day the guy was in my way,” said Cian. “My chef d’equipe [Robert Splaine] has filed an objection.”
With Cian’s four faults, Ireland finished seventh, behind Spain in sixth. Had Cian secured a clear round, Ireland would have finished ahead of Spain and picked up an Olympic qualification.
Show director Frank Kemperman confirmed in tonight’s press conference that the results are still provisional pending the outcome of the appeal. [READ THE DECISION FROM THE APPEAL COMMITEE]
Full report on the European Showjumping Championships in H&H next week, out Thursday, 27 August.