Britain retains its team silver medal position after a hugely influential and extremely wet cross-country day at the Longines FEI European Eventing Championship at Blair Castle. Izzy Taylor is the best placed Briton in individual bronze with KBIS Briarlands Matilda (pictured top).
Germany now hold an almost unassailable lead in the team competition with Michael Jung in gold, and Sandra Auffarth in silver, plus Ingrid Klimke in sixth and Dirk Schrade in eighth place. Their score of 112.7pen means they have 11 fences in hand ahead of Britain (169.3) with France in bronze (179.7) going into tomorrow’s showjumping.
Britain got off to a good start when team pathfinder Kitty King went clear on Persimmon, collecting just 8.4 time-penalties after taking the long route at the last water fences 18ab/19ab. But unfortunately Nicola Wilson and One Two Many were one of a number of combinations to collect 20pen at the second corner fence in the main arena.
Pippa Funnell’s inexperienced nine-year-old Sandman 7 galloped ears pricked all the way around the course to collected just nine time-penalties. But after a lacklustre performance in the dressage, there was further disappointment for William Fox-Pitt when Bay My Hero glanced off the narrow Joules Brush Arrowhead at fence 17 twice. William then retired.
The German team extended their lead with all four riders producing clear jumping rounds. Michael Jung had a near perfect ride with eight-year-old FischerTakinou to achieve one of only three clear rounds inside the time.
British riders Izzy Taylor on KBIS Briarlands Matilda and Gemma Tattersall on Arctic Soul, who moved up from 35th place to seventh, were the only other riders to stay on their dressage score.
Michael said: “I know that FischerTakinou is a very fast horse who is easy to handle in front of the fences. I lost not many seconds [setting up]. He jumped every fence very powerful and strong. The feeling was brilliant. He was still fighting for me at the end.”
Michael has two fences in hand going into the showjumping ahead of his compatriot, current world champion and overnight dressage leader Sandra Auffarth with Opgun Louvo. Sandra was stopped on course after fence 4abc, the House of Bruar Shepherds’ Bothies, due a frangible pin being broken at the Silver Birch Oxer further round the course. Her adjusted time gave her 11.2 time-faults, but as this report went to press these were being disputed by the German team.
Sandra said: “It was OK being held. These things happen. I got a rug for my horse so that was not a problem. Then he started really fast so I had a really good feeling. But my opinion is that I felt a lot faster than my time on the board, so [officials] are still checking my time.”
Izzy Taylor had a great round on KBIS Briarlands Matilda with just one worrying moment at the angled brushes close to home.
Izzy said: “She’s an older wiser horse so she didn’t notice the mud. I didn’t expect it to go that well. She just tripped on the corner to the second last, which really took it out of her. She put two strides in there, so she was really good to jump it.”
Germany and Britain hold all of the top 10 individual places on the leader board overnight with the exception of Lt. Col. Thibaut Vallette of France, who is in fourth with Qing Du Briot ENE HN.
The Netherlands, Sweden and Spain hold fourth, fifth and sixth place in the team competition, but sadly Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland and Russia did not manage to get three riders home.
- View the individual leaderboard
- View the team leaderboard
- Find out how all the British riders got on
How the Blair cross-country course rode
The weather played a significant part in the day’s action with the ground becoming increasingly slippery as the day went on.
Three riders fell in quick succession when their horses slipped on the slope at the Haggis fence at 21b. Work was done to add stone to the ground both before and after this fence, which appeared to improve the situation, but after two more riders had jumped it, course-designer Ian Stark decided to remove that element. This left the Neeps at the top of the hill and the narrow Tatties at the bottom of the slope for the remaining riders to jump.
Ian said: “It was my decision to take it out, in agreement with the ground jury. Three people fell in a row and I was there for all three. We fixed the ground a bit, but they were still sliding a little, so we couldn’t risk another fall. That would have been stupid. I was sorry to lose the haggis though.”
Otherwise problems were shared around the course with the UK Sport Corners in the main arena and the House of Bruar Shepherds’ Bothies also causing a number of riders to collect penalties.
When asked how we felt about his first championship course, Ian said: “I am pleased. We couldn’t have seven days without rain in Scotland, but it was unfortunate it happened today. There was trouble all around the course – some great names went out and some inexperienced riders got round.
“I was delighted to see how many went straight at fences 18/19. In particular I thought the German riders were excellent at that fence. They rode with great balance and feel.”
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.