Steve Guerdat of Switzerland has been crowned the new European champion at the European Showjumping Championships at the San Siro racecourse in Milan, Italy (30 August-3 September).
Surprisingly the 2012 Olympic champion and multi-championship medallist had never won an individual medal at a European Showjumping Championships. But, with the outstanding 10-year-old mare Dynamix De Belheme, who Steve describes as his “horse of a lifetime”, the pair jumped a crucial double clear in the individual medal decider to rise from their overnight second place to claim the gold medal in Milan, Italy, on Sunday (3 September).
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Steve. “I’ve never won a European individual medal – I’ve won team gold at the Europeans, but today I was lucky. Dynamix has been with us since she was five and she’s already given back to us 1000 times before today, she’s a horse of a lifetime. It feels incredible to be here as European champion.”
Steve, who lets Dynamix have a few bites of grass after every round and did so again during the prize giving ceremony, was last to go of the 11 finalists with the daughter of Snaike De Blondel, who is out of a Cornet Obolensky mare. The 41-year-old former world number one held his nerve under immense pressure to secure a glorious gold medal at the 2023 European Showjumping Championships.
“Normally I enjoy jumping every single fence with Dynamix but not today, I was so focused on my mare and jumping every single fence and fighting for it,” said Steve, who was previously Olympic champion with the great Nino Des Buissonnets.
“It’s her first championship so I tried to give her a bit of my experience to help her with her lack of experience.”
European Showjumping Championships: going for gold at Paris Olympics
“Since last year, my main goal is to make the 2024 Olympics with this mare,” added Steve. “If I do everything right, she’ll be one of the favourites in Paris, so it’s my job to bring her there in the best form I can.”
Claiming the silver medal was German rider Philipp Weishaupt with one of the youngest horses in these championships, the nine-year-old Zineday (Zinedene x Polydor), just less than four penalties behind the champions. The bronze medal was won by France’s Julien Epaillard, who, like Philipp, had climbed the leaderboard thanks to double clears over Uliano Vezzani’s final two tracks. The course-designer has received so much praise throughout these European Showjumping Championships.
Julien’s 10-year-old mare Dubai Du Cedre is a daughter of Baloubet Du Rouet and the flying Frenchman rides her in a hackamore. Alongside Dynamix and sixth-placed Iliana with Henrik von Eckermann, there were three mares in the top six, two of whom were in the medals.
“I’m super happy, my mare is only 10 and this is her first championship,” said the world number two, who finished 0.30 points behind the silver medallist, so tight were the margins in the individual final. “She had a super, super championships. The fault on the first day was down to me and she only had two down all week. I think if I knew her a bit better, I could take some of those faults off. But that was a nice experience and very good for the future.”
For the second championship in succession, Great Britain’s Ben Maher finished fourth with his own and Charlotte Rossetter and Pamela Wright’s stallion Faltic HB. The highest placed Irish rider was Eoin McMahon and Mila, who finished ninth individually after helping his team win silver on Friday.
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