In an astounding and dramatic finale to the European Showjumping Championships in Madrid, Great Britain’s Nick Skelton won bronze with the mighty Carlo — adding to his team medal of the same colour won two days earlier.
But in a dramatic change around at the top of the leader board in the final stages of the competition, Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson rose from fifth to snatch gold with his long-time partner Ninja La Silla while overnight leader, Germany’s Carsten-Otto Nagel, had to settle for silver on the wonderful grey mare Corradina.
“I am more than happy right now,” said the Swedish rider. “I thought I’d lost my chance on Friday [when he incurred four faults]. So today I tried to stay cool — and actually I have to thank my colleagues for making the mistakes that allowed me to sit here today!”
Rolf is referring to the four faults that both Carsten and Nick had in each of the final day’s two rounds — which seemed for a while at least to have knocked the latter off the podium.
And agonisingly, for the second time in a week, Dutch rider Gerco Schroder saw a gold medal slip out of his grasp. The last man to jump hit one, then two fences, in the fifth and final round, dropping him and Eurocommerce New Orleans to fourth.
“Two medals — we haven’t done that in a while!” said Nick Skelton, who was delighted but nevertheless rueful that, had 10-year-old Carlo maintained his wonderful clean sheet from the first three days, he would have won gold.
Britain’s performance manager, who was watching anxiously with Carlo’s owners Gary and Beverley Widdowson, and Laura Kraut, who discovered the horse, added: “I am extremely happy that Nick won a medal. I’d have been even more delighted if it had been gold, of course, but it is fantastic for the sport.”
Gold: Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (Ninja La Silla) SWE
Silver: Carsten-Otto Nagel (Corradina) GER
Bronze: Nick Skelton (Carlo) GB
Also: 12, Tripple X III (B Maher), GB; 15, Tinka’s Serenade (B Twomey), IRL; 17, Amaretto Darco (S Sweetnam); 27, Peppermill (J Whitaker), GB; 31, Titus (G Williams), GB.
Don’t miss next week’s Horse & Hound (out 22 September) for the full report, pictures, analysis and comment.