Switzerland has won team gold as the European Showjumping Championships results in the team competition were decided, with Germany taking silver and Belgium bronze in a thrilling rollercoaster of an afternoon.
The Swiss, who went into today’s medal decider in the lead, pulled two clears out of the bag after Elian Baumann’s 12-fault opening round. So when 2012 individual Olympic champion Steve Guerdat went into the ring on Albfuehren’s Maddox as the last combination to jump, he knew he had a fence in hand.
And he needed it — a late pole meant he had to tackle the last tricky line, the big FEI oxer to the tricky double of verticals, plus the last 1.60 oxer that had caught a few out — knowing a touch would cost his team gold.
“I did have pressure, but I don’t think any more than the others did,” he said. “Everyone wanted to fight, not just for himself but for the team. We have a great atmosphere and I think it makes you fight harder when it’s for four of you, and not just yourself.”
Steve added that after a year that has not been plain sailing in equestrian terms, “this is what it’s all about”.
“You get good days and bad days, but it’s about keeping your head up,” he said. “Things don’t always go your way but when you believe in what you do, and a great team behind you helps, days like this make the bad moments go away. I’m so happy to be part of this.”
Steve’s teammate and defending champion Martin Fuchs is in the lead in the individual competition, which concludes on Sunday, on the nine-year-old Leone Jei.
“He’s just been amazing, all three days,” he said. “Steve has just said how crazy is it to be in the lead on a nine-year-old, but I’m very happy to already have secured a medal for him and I’ll do all I can to leave all the jumps up on Sunday and win another medal.”
For Germany, it was a case of so near but yet so far; Andre Thieme on DSP Chakaria continued his good form with a clear round, and Marcus Ehning and Stargold jumped their first clear of the competition to put them in a strong position. But when Christian Kukuk on Mumbai and David Will on C Vier tipped a rail each, the silver was confirmed — which was a nice birthday present for Marcus Ehning’s son.
“It’s my youngest son’s birthday today and I told him I hoped I’d be able to bring him home a medal,” Marcus said. “And now I can. I’m very proud of my horse and the whole team.”
Heartbreak for the super Swedes
There was heartbreak for Sweden, who had been in gold-medal position after the first day’s jumping, and bronze at the end of yesterday, but three eight-fault rounds meant that last rider Peder Fredricson’s clear was not enough to earn a place on the podium. They finished fourth.
But their loss was Belgian’s gain as the Tokyo Olympic bronze medallists, this team including twin brothers Nicola and Olivier Philippaerts, made today their best of the week with four fault-free and faultless rounds to take the bronze by nearly five penalties.
Jos Verlooy, who jumped clear on Varoune today, said all four riders are friends outside the horse world: “So it’s very special to win a bronze medal together.”
It was another unlucky day for Britain as Georgia Tame’s ride Ascot Z7 refused the tricky wall at fence three, and she retired. Emily Moffitt and Winning Good lifted spirits with their best round of the week, a superb clear, but Joe Stockdale and William Whitaker were unlucky, clocking up 12 and eight faults respectively for the team to finish in ninth place.
Emily finished in 22nd place individually, which means she qualifies for Sunday’s European Showjumping Championships individual final, for which all penalties are carried forward from the three rounds jumped so far.
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