Germany’s unchallenged dominance of international show jumping continued when the team easily — and predictably — won a successive European Show Jumping Championships with more than four fences to spare, despite anchorman Markus Ehning’s surprising 12-fault round to finish.
“My horse was perhaps a bit tired and I may have been losing concentration,” said Markus, now 13th individually. “I didn’t really do a good job, but of course we are very happy to have won the gold medal and there will be plenty of celebrating.”
His team mates Marco Kutscher and Christian Ahlmann are now in gold and silver medal positions going into Sunday’s individual contest at San Patrignano, Italy. Ahlmann, the defending champion, has a clear chance of becoming the first rider to win successive gold medals since Paul Schockemohle 20 years ago.
The Swiss won silver, with a notable performance from Christine Liebherr on LB No Mercy, sixth, who, with Kutscher, produced one of only two double clears in the competition.
“I was disappointed with my performance on the first day [36th],” she said, “and I think we were all motivated to do better today. I was under pressure but my horse gave me a fantastic feeling and I was able to concentrate. It was perfect.”
Despite second round clears from Jeroen Dubbeldam and Gerco Schroder, the Netherlands dropped a place to bronze with Leon Thijssen’s 12-fault round on Nairobi. “We’ve had an unlucky season in the Super League and we had to fight for this medal, but we are very happy.”
Britain managed to climb only one place, to sixth, behind Italy, fourth, and Belgium, fifth. All four of the British horses appeared to be operating more effectively in the cool, damp conditions of the early evening, with William Funnell and John Whitaker only clocking four and six faults apiece. However, three of them have made it into the last 25 for the individual contest; Nick Skelton is 17th, Michael Whitaker 23rd and William Funnell 25th.
There were only four clear rounds in a dramatically rain soaked and thundery evening. Marco Kutscher said: “Compared to the Athens Olympics it was a very difficult course. I think the main problem was the water. Horses were thinking about that rather than the fences.”
Steve Guerat said the course-designer, Marco Cortinovis, should be congratulated. “Nothing was too big. All the mistakes were rider faults due to not enough control and there was nothing frightening for the horses.”
Final team results
1, Germany, 18; 2, Switzerland, 34.42; 3, Netherlands, 35.76; 4, Italy, 50.78; 5, Belgium, 54.04; 6, Britain, 58.03; 7, France 59.48; 8, Sweden, 77.75.
For more info visit: www.sanpatrignano2005.org