Stephen Hadley: Chuffed to bits with the Brits *H&H VIP*

  • I have been to many European Championships in my time and they never fail to produce dramatic viewing.

    It is difficult for the course-designer to get it right but Frank Rothenberger was spot-on — the tracks were big and technical but also jumpable, which was evident by the good number of clear rounds we saw.

    I was chuffed to bits to see the Brits come as close as they did to a medal and they held it together to secure that Olympic qualification.

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but I thought each British rider rode magnificently. Michael Whitaker (pictured) is still as good as ever — if not better — and Ben Maher is so cool-headed. Joe Clee has certainly now joined them up there and if he can get good enough horses he’ll stay there. Jessica Mendoza did brilliantly to bounce back after having three down on day two.

    Out of the top 30 riders there is only one element that can separate them and that is the horse they are riding.

    Jeroen’s horse, SFN Zenith NOP, has grown up a huge amount since the World Equestrian Games last year, where he was not an easy ride. He’s still sharp, which we saw as he protested entering the ring before Jeroen’s individual round. But Jeroen didn’t panic — he’s so sympathetic with his horses, they just seem to jump sweetly for him.

    I have huge sympathy for the Irish. It was unsettling for both horse and rider and a great pity that their Olympic ticket was lost at that one fence.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 27 August 2015