Germany dominated the first two days of competition in Vidauban (1-2 July), winning authoritatively in the junior section and imposing themselves over Holland in a closely-fought battle for gold in the young rider division.
The brand-new German team, led by last year’s European pony gold medallist Semmieke Rothenberger, included three of the top four-placed combinations (as well as Semmieke on the Gribaldi mare Geisha, Hannah Erbe/Carlos and Paulina Holzknecht/Wells Fargo, with Kristin Biermann/Zwetcher as discard score).
“This is very special for us, as we are a very young team: it was a lot of fun and we are very happy with the way it ended,” said Semmieke, who led the individual rankings with 76.35%.
Holland took silver and Denmark bronze. The GB team, composed of Chloe Vell/Kaja Di Valentina (67.67%), Erin Williams/Bolsan B (69.62%), Amber Barton/Labiat (67.83%) and Charlotte Dicker/Sabatini (63.86%) finished in eighth place overall.
In the young rider division things were much tighter, with Germany and Holland on very close scores and the team ranking decided by the countries’ last rides.
With Germany having the edge after the first three riders, Holland’s Dana Van Lierop and Equestricons Walkure produced an assured test to win the class with 76.5%, putting enormous pressure on Bianca Nowak and Fair Play RB.
The German did deliver (75.26%), although only 0.3% ultimately separated the two countries.
“I tried to calculate what I needed to score after Dana’s ride, and that wasn’t a very good feeling,” said Bianca.
Her teammate Vivien Niemann added: “We felt sick after Dana’s fabulous ride, but we really believed Bianca could get us gold. It was incredibly nerve-wracking trying to calculate the scores, with Bianca coming out of the arena and looking at us interrogatively.”
“This is a silver medal with a golden edge: we really fought for it and couldn’t be more delighted with our rides and our horses,” said Dana Van Lierop, promising revenge in the individual tests.
Bronze went to Sweden – their first European medal in 14 years.
The GB team of Lottie Fry/Z Flemmenco (69.21%), Robyn Smith/Foold Uz (68.13%), Claire Gallimore/Annette Ballerina (66.78%) and Rebecca Edwards/Ufano (66.52%) finished 7th.