In a fitting result for the home crowd, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson clinched the individual European gold medal during a tense battle in Gothenburg this afternoon (Sunday, 27 August).
The 2016 Olympic silver medallist jumped to the top of the leaderboard in Wednesday’s qualifying speed leg and impressively held the top spot throughout the week — it was a gold medal he was certainly not going to concede.
“I knew there was going to be pressure when riding at a championship in Sweden, in front of the home crowd, but it made it even more special to win,” said Peder, a former eventer who rode at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
“It’s been a long week but at the same time I knew the only thing I had to do was go clear inside the time. When you have a horse as good as All In, he deserves it and I didn’t want to make a silly mistake.
“You will never enjoy this kind of pressure, however, you can’t let it get to you — I just focused on what needed to be done.”
His ultra talented ride, H&M All In — who only returned to competition in March after time off — proved a superstar all week, not faulting in any of the rounds leading up to the final. The pair were the only ones remaining on a zero score overnight ahead of today’s thrilling finale.
Ireland’s Cian O’Connor came into the final in fourth but a clear in the first round today boosted him to silver medal position, after overnight runner-up Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs had two down.
The top 12 riders after the first round then proceeded to the second round — after a change of track by course-designer Louis Konickx — with Peder, Cian and Dutchman Harrie Smolders occupying the top three spots.
When Harrie — who had impressively jumped from ninth up to third after a first-round clear — left all the fences intact aboard Don VHP Z, he was guaranteed a medal.
Next in, Cian and Good Luck (pictured, below) frustratingly knocked fence five, an upright following a triple bar, and it was a pole that would prove costly — and ultimately the gold medal. It also saw Harrie creep ahead of him into the silver medal position.
When Peder entered the arena, the home crowd was euphoric, even before he’d confirmed his position at the top of the podium.
Due to Cian’s pole down, the pair had one fence in hand and for the majority of the round it looked like Peder might just secure another impressive clear. However, the bay gelding tapped the middle of the treble — a huge square oxer — three from home and the Swedish supporters held their breaths as he cleared the final two, confirming his European champion title.
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After helping his nation to victory in the team championship, Cian was pleased to be back on the podium individually.
“The margins were so small and it’s been tight all week,” he said. “Today was costly when I hit that vertical but I am happy — it’s great to win a bronze medal.
“I thought all the courses worked out perfectly this week. When you look at the statistics, this individual final saw three of the top horses competing in the class finish on the podium and, for me, that means the course building was spot on.”
Fellow Irishman Shane Sweetnam had gone into today’s final in bronze medal position, but luck was not on his side in the first round when Chaqui Z tapped the oxer coming out of the treble, which put them out of medal contention.
Final individual standing:
Gold: Peder Fredricson (H&M All In) SWE
Silver: Harrie Smolders (Don VHP Z) NED
Bronze: Cian O’Connor (Good Luck) IRE
Check out all the results from the 2017 European Championships here.
Don’t miss the full report from the dressage, para dressage and showjumping action from this week’s European Championships in Horse & Hound — including analysis, expert comments, pictures and more — on sale Thursday, 31 August.