Germany demonstrated their dominance of the sport of eventing once again at the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle taking team gold, plus individual gold and silver. All four of their team riders, plus both individuals, jumped clear in the final phase.
And it was mission accomplished for France, who qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, as well as taking home team and individual bronze. Sweden claimed the remaining Rio qualification.
Britain can celebrate European team silver medal, but it wasn’t all plain sailing with no individual honours on home soil, although four Brits finished inside the top 10.
Following the loss of William Fox-Pitt yesterday, all three British team riders needed to complete the showjumping for Britain to remain in the competition.
But a miscommunication between our first team rider Nicola Wilson and One Two Many saw the horse paddle through fence seven, a rustic oxer, and Nicola came close to being pitched off.
“I over-prepared for it and put him in an impossible position,” said Nicola. “He was very good to jump it.
“Everything goes into slow motion when that happens and I was just thinking that we [the British team] are down to three riders and I had to stay on.”
Despite having her legs up around the rear of the saddle and her head around One Two Many’s ears, Nicola somehow managed to scramble back into the plate to jump the rest of the course clear.
Pippa Funnell coaxed a brilliant round from Sandman 7 to move up individually from 10th to eighth, while yesterday’s pathfinder Kitty King also produced a clear round on Persimmon to move up one place from fifth to fourth.
Unfortunately Kitty’s gain was due to Izzy Taylor’s loss when KBIS Briarlands Matilda tipped off the planks at fence eight, dropping Izzy out of the individual medals. She finished in sixth place.
Individual European glory
Germany’s Michael Jung rode a copybook clear round on the youngest horse in the competition, eight-year-old FischerTakinou, to add European individual gold to the Burghley title he won last week.
Michael said: “For me it’s very important to look to the future and now I can say I have a new champion. Although he’s a young horse, I believe FischerTakinou is a a top horse with the quality for the next big championships.”
Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo never looked like touching a pole despite slipping on the turn to fence 10 to stay on their overnight score and take home individual silver.
Sandra: “It wasn’t a great feeling to slip, but I didn’t really worry as I was far enough away from the next fence that it was OK.”
Izzy Taylor’s fence down opened the door for French team debutant Lt. Col. Thibaut Vallette to claim bronze with Qing du Briot ENE HN.
Kitty King was agonisingly close to a medal in fourth place with Persimmon ahead of Germany’s Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob. Germany’s fourth team rider, Dirk Schrade (Hop And Skip), took seventh with Pippa Funnell in eighth.
Gemma Tattersall dropped two places from seventh to ninth after Arctic Soul was one of a handful of horses that looked to misjudge fence three and went through it rather than over it at their first attempt. After the fence had been rebuilt, the pair regrouped and jumped the rest of the course clear to collect four jumping faults and two time faults. Find out how the rest of the British riders got on.
The other fence on Stephen Renouard’s course that proved particularly influential was the rustic oxer at fence seven, which caused Nicola’s heart-in-the-mouth moment. It was located quite close to and jumping towards the main grandstand on a dogleg from the treble combination at fence six. Eleven horses collected faults here.
Full report from the European Championships at Blair in H&H next week, out Thursday, 17 September — 19 pages of analysis and photographs, plus columns from Anna Ross, Harry Meade and Mike Etherington-Smith.