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Germany’s pony driving glory

Germany take home a fistful of medals from Sandringham Driving Trials’ European Pony Team Championships

A consistent display of impressive driving saw Germany prove they were the top nation at the European Pony Team Championships at Sandringham.

The victorious team of Dirk Gerkins, Gerard Gerich and Tobias Bucker moved into first place in the nations league after the marathon and held on to it through the finalphase to claim team gold and individual gold, silver and bronze medals.

Seven nations – Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and the hosts, Great Britain – took part in the fourth European Pony Team Championships, held over from last year because of FMD.

Belgian drivers Mia Allo and Edwin Flerackers, 1999 and 1998 winners of the Royal Windsor international driving grand prix respectively, claimed the top two places in dressage, taking Belgium into an early lead.

Germany was in second place, with Austria lying third. The British team of Emily Bennett, Ursula Hirschberg and Philippa Gammel occupied fourth place, less than one point behind Austria.

The Duke of Edinburgh was the highest-placed individual for Great Britain following the dressage, lying seventh.

Magnificent marathon

The scenically beautiful five-section marathon did not prove too taxing. The open following obstacles drove well, bringing a change of fortunes at the top of the board.

Germany’s Gerard Gerich, with his beautiful team of home-bred grey Arab-cross ponies, scarcely faltered through the solidly built obstacles to go into the lead. Team-mate Dirk Gerkins, was third in the marathon, pulling up to second place overall.

Royal Windsor 2002 winner, Aart van der Kamp from Holland, with his signature black and white Shetlands, drove his usual storming marathon, to claim second in this phase and pull the Netherlands up into bronze medal position behind Belgium after the marathon.

Sadly, the British drivers were not quick enough through the obstacles. They dropped down to sixth nationally, with Emily Bennett the highest-placed individual in 11th.

Conquoring the cones

Christian Iseli’s tricky angled cones course over 700 metres, set another good test. Lying third after the marathon, Mia Allo picked up six penalties, dropping her down two places and giving Germany the top four slots.

Tobias Bucker secured third place with a double clear, while Dirk Gerkins collecting just one time fault. Gerard Gerich’s carefully measured round was clear on time, but he collected five driving penalties and dropped to second place, handing the gold medal to Dirk.

For Germany, however, the gold medal was secure; Belgium took the silver and Netherlands the bronze. Great Britain remained in sixth place.

Read the full report including what happened in the national competition in this week’s Horse & Hound (11 July), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door everyweek.

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