Britain’s stars of the future took last week’s junior and young rider eventing European Championships at Hartpury by storm when they claimed both team gold medals, as well as an individual silver and bronze.
Isabelle Cook led the way in the junior division, winning individual silver and spearheading the team gold.
“It’s been the most amazing experience at my first championship,” she said. “I felt a lot of pressure going into the showjumping after watching all my teammates go so well, but I somehow managed to focus on the job and pull it off. I was very, very nervous, but my mare is a really good jumper and I had faith that she would jump well. I just had to keep it together.
“Jumping the last knowing I’d gone clear was amazing – the crowd just went wild. It was incredible.”
Isabelle’s ride was Mexican Law, owned by her mother Tina Cook – the winner of numerous championship medals herself – and Jim Chromiak.
Tina previously rode the home-bred mare, who is by Billy Mexico out of a Mill Law mare called Devine Law, handing over the reins to Isabelle at the end of last year.
“It’s really special riding a mare that we’ve bred ourselves and watched grow and develop,” said Isabelle. “She’s a lovely horse to ride and a brilliant jumper. I enjoy every minute of riding her.”
Isabelle finished just over a point behind Germany’s Mathies Ruder and Bon Ton who also finished on their dressage score of 25.2 to take individual gold and lead Germany into team bronze, behind Ireland in silver.
Britain’s six riders all jumped clear across country and finished in the top 15, with Finn Healy (fourth on Fathers Compromise), Jasmine Underwood (12th on Indian Girl G) and Grace Donnor (14th on Cooley Ramiro) joining Isabelle in the team and Jaymee Savill (seventh on Grange Ash Sparrow) and Holly Clarke (11th on Nico) riding as individuals.
Casburn best of British young riders
Alice Casburn added another accolade to her CV after 19th at her first Badminton Horse Trials this spring when she took home individual bronze in the young rider section on her mother Caroline’s home-bred Topspin.
The time across country proved tight and Alice and Topspin were the only pair to finish on their dressage score.
“I love showjumping but it’s quite frightening when you’ve got a team relying on you,” she said after her final round.
Looking back on the whole week, Alice said: “He doesn’t settle very well usually, but he settled in really well here and did a really good test for him. He was phenomenal in both jumping phases. He’s a mega horse.”
Millie Juleff (sixth on All We Need) and Molly Faulkner (seventh on Call Me Cooley) provided the other counting team scores, with fourth team member Ibble Watson not far behind in 13th on Aristoteles S Z. Germany took team silver and Ireland the bronze.
British individual Phoebe Hughes led the dressage on Top Biats and finished fifth after adding 5.2 time-faults across country and finishing the showjumping with a rail down and a second over the time. Britain’s other individual Polly Muirhead had a late call-up into the squad on the Monday of the event week and finished 15th on Penhill Touch Of Class.
Zazie Gardeau took individual gold for France on Cesar de Commarin LA, saying: “He’s quite cuddly and sensitive, but he was very courageous and brave cross-country and I was so proud of him jumping clear today.”
British chef d’equipe Darrell Scaife summarised the junior and young rider eventing European Championships by saying: “To have all six finish in the top 15 [across both divisions] is incredible. They’ve been such a really wonderful group of young people.
“They haven’t had a championship experience for two years and for some of them, this is their debut performance. Our joint philosophy is that it’s their medal to win and they’re absolutely focused on their own training and experiences which they draw on in these situations. Our job is just to enable them to perform at their best. The standard just keeps getting better every year.”
Additional reporting by Stephanie Bateman
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