The Irish team kicked off their European Showjumping Championships campaign with a very promising start in today’s first qualifying competition (Wednesday, 23 August), sitting in fourth overnight.
The Swiss team, comprising Steve Guerdat, Martin Fuchs, Romain Duguet and Nadja Peter Steiner, lead the proceedings going into tomorrow’s first team round, ahead of France and Sweden respectively.
Shane Sweetnam finished best of the Irish quartet in eighth individually having produced a clear round in 79.89 seconds during today’s speed class aboard Chaqui Z.
Cian O’Connor (Good Luck) is close behind in 10th, while Denis Lynch and All Star 5 finished in 22nd from the 80-strong field.
Bertram Allen was the discard score for the Irish, after his ride Hector Van D’Abdijhoeve uncharacteristically stopped at the oxer at six, going away from the arena entrance.
“My horse felt fresh and really enjoyed it in there — hopefully it puts us in good standing for the rest of the week. My plan was to be competitive and be in the top 10, which seemed to have worked out,” said Shane.
William Whitaker is now the solo British rider in Gothenburg after his uncle, Michael, withdrew Viking from the competition when the 15-year-old gelding didn’t feel “quite right” warming up.
Riding the experienced Utamaro D’Ecaussines, William produced a foot-perfect clear round. However, the pair ran two seconds over the 45 seconds allowed before crossing the start line, and their resulting time of 85.81 seconds pushed them down the leader board; they go into tomorrow’s competition sitting in 39th. It could be an influential two seconds, considering the tight scoring system that sees the top 10 separated by a mere 2.25 penalties.
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“Utamaro could not have jumped better today, he gave me everything. The course was challenging, but fair enough for the first day and that is what you expect when you come to a championship,” said William.
“We saw a few good horses do some uncharacteristic things — we jumped quite early on and it was bright in there so I don’t know if that is why. But I did take that into account and I let him have a look around before I started.”
Swedish rider Peder Fredricson delighted the home crowd by taking today’s individual honours on day one riding the 11-year-old gelding H&M All In.
The pair, therefore, head into tomorrow’s competition on a zero score. Germany’s Marcus Ehning (Pret A Tout) occupies the runner-up spot, with Portugal’s Luciana Diniz (Fit For Fun 13) in third.
The first round of the team competition kicks off tomorrow (Thursday, 24 August) at 1.30pm (12.30pm UK time) — all the individual competitors will also take part.
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.