Brilliant British take bronze in thriller pony Europeans jump-off

  • Britain’s pony team completed the set when they brought home team bronze from the pony European Showjumping Championships, adding to the three team bronze medals already secured by the children on horses, junior and young rider squads a fortnight earlier.

    Ireland maintained an exemplary zero score throughout to take gold, while Sweden earned themselves silver on 12 penalties.

    Despite the emphatic victory, the team competition was still forced to the wire when Britain had to jump off against France for a spot on the podium, after both teams tied on 16 penalties.

    Britain had taken through just four faults from the opening competition, but in the next round only team anchor Izabella Rogers and Neil 55 had delivered a clear. First out Harriet Hodge, making her team debut this year, had one down and four time-faults on Little Charlie, while Madison Seedhouse jumped for four on Vaughann De Vuzit. Tilly Bamford, who had posted clear in the first round on Lapis Lazuli, now at his fourth pony Europeans, came back with 12.

    In a resurgent performance all four members of the team were then faultless, leaving them on 16 penalties and putting them back in the medal hunt.

    “We were lucky in a sense as you carry on with your original drawn order, so we followed France in the jump-off,” team manager Clare Whitaker said. “I told each of the team not to go into the ring until they knew exactly what they had to do.”

    Harriet had just the one rail, before Madison jumped a great clear. Two out of three French riders had come home with four faults, putting pressure on Tilly to leave the fences standing. She delivered a fantastic clear with the 13-year-old dun gelding to clinch bronze, and allow Izabella to save Neil for the individual final, where she finished fifth. Harriet and Little Charlie tipped one rail in the individual final to finish 10th.

    “It wasn’t as big as Poland last year, around 1.25m to 1.30m, where as Poland was 1.35m and 1.40m in the individual final,” said Izabella, who only had two poles throughout the whole team and individual competition.

    “Going into the individual final I knew I already had a team medal in the bag and I was grateful to the team that I didn’t have to jump off. I had been slightly nervous the first day and we were sat in 24th, so to work our way up to be in contention for a medal was something special.”

    It was a strong weekend for the Whitakers, as Clare brought home her fourth youth team bronze of the year the same weekend as husband John and son Robert were victorious at Hickstead in the FEI Nations Cup and the King George V.

    “We drove home in the car with the vet and Jason and Katrina Moore. We were watching the jump-off in the car then Robert rang and everyone was cheering,” Clare said.

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