‘I can’t quite believe it’ — medal haul for British junior eventers

The NAF-sponsored British team held their nerve on the final day of competition at the FEI Junior European Eventing Championships today (14 July) to secure team and individual silver.

Three out of the four team members (Leilia Paske, Georgia Bartlett and Elicia Miller) all showjumped clear, which they needed to do as the French team were just .5 of a penalty behind them in bronze. The German team (Joelle Celina Selenkowitsch, Ann-Catrin Bierlein, Anna Lena Schaaf and Calvin Böckmann) clinched team gold by 10.2 penalties.

Leilia Paske was delighted to rise from fourth overnight into eventual individual silver medal position, thanks to a great round with the Paske Syndicate’s 10-year-old mare, Billy Mcfee (pictured).

“It’s such a surprise, I’m so chuffed and I still can’t quite believe it,” said an emotional Leilia. “I was nervous but at the same time I had this calm about me because our coach Caroline Moore and the back-up team are so good that I knew all I had to do was put my horse in the right places — she’s such an amazing jumper.”

Teammate Georgia Bartlett also put the pressure on the remaining riders when jumping an immaculate clear with Spana de Nazca, rising from sixth to eventual fourth and just .5 of a penalty away from bronze.

“He was amazing and jumped a really good round — I couldn’t have asked for more,” said Georgia. “I wasn’t too nervous going in there — I thought I would be but I had a good plan and stuck to it.”

Germany’s Anna Lena Schaaf held her nerve to jump clear and take individual gold with the 12-year-old chestnut mare, Fairytale 39, who her grandfather bred for dressage. They finished on the 24.1 dressage and some 4.9 penalties ahead of Leilia.

“I hoped we would get a good team result as we have a strong pool of riders to choose from, but I never expected to win individually,” said Anna Lena, who also won double gold at the 2016 pony Europeans. “This mare is a good jumper but has incurred faults on the final day before, so I was quite nervous.”

Fellow German rider Ann-Catrin Bierlein lowered one pole to drop one place into bronze with Auf Geht’s Fraeulein Hummel.

“This is my first Europeans so I’m really happy,” explained Ann-Catrin. “I’ve only ridden this horse since August 2018, but I think we’ve become a good team and it’s been a perfect weekend.”

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British individual rider Alice Casburn finished on her dressage score with Topspin, a horse bred by her mother Caroline, meaning they finished a highly creditable 16th. Elicia Miller was 19th, also finishing on her dressage score with A Sunny Bay, while final team rider Saffie Osborne lowered two poles and incurred 1.6 time faults in the final phase, but still finished 28th with Lakantus, despite a frustrating run-out on the cross-country.

Keep up-to-date with all the action from the championships at horseandhound.co.uk, plus don’t miss the full report in Horse & Hound magazine, out on 26 July.