Molly Shepherd – Boden
The end of the 2016 Eventing season signalled the end of a Team GB Eventing era. Indeed, it would be the last for longstanding Team GB Performance Manger, Yogi Breisner, who took the reins back in 1999, just eight months prior to the Sydney Olympics. He announced his retirement in advance of the 2016 Rio Olympics, after a successful seventeen year reign. Breisner showcased his talent with a well-deserved Team Silver in the Sydney Olympics of 2000. In his first Championships, Team GB made their first appearance on the Olympic podium for twelve years. Since then, they have heavily featured in the medals and imposed themselves as a Nation capable of consistently challenging at the top. This has cultivated almost two decades where British Riders have achieved domestic success as Individuals in three and four star competition, in addition to Continental success at World, European and Olympic level.
After much speculation, it has been announced that Breisner’s successor will be one of his greatest rivals, former German National coach, Christopher Bartle. He took the top role in German Eventing back in 2001 and has since revolutionised the team who were lowly ranked when he was appointed. In his sixteen major Championships at the helm, his teams have clinched a staggering twenty eight medals, averaging 1.75 medals per appearance at the highest level.
German domination of Eventing is very much rooted within the Nation’s recent history. Predominantly, they are renowned for their success in other disciplines of dressage and show jumping. Under Bartle’s guidance the team have been transformed into a medal winning machine and it is almost inevitable that the German’s will be stood on the podium at the end of Championship proceedings. The statistics are staggering:-
Christopher Bartle managed the German team in four Olympic games. They won seven medals, averaging 1.75 medals per game and yet they did not win one medal at Athens in 2004, so essentially won seven medals in three Olympics. Of the seven medals, five of them were gold. In the four Olympics prior to Bartle taking charge, the team won three medals, averaging 0.75 medals per games.
In four World Equestrian Games as manager, the German’s clinched six medals, averaging 1.5 medals per competition. However, similarly to the Olympics, Bartle’s team won nothing at his debut WEG in 2002. The four prior to his appointment, the team won only two medals, averaging a lowly 0.5 medals per Championship.
Bartle boasts the most success in the European Championships. In eight appearances, his team has won an impressive fifteen medals, averaging 1.88 medal per Euro. This is a sensational improvement on the eight European Championships before he was named as coach, as the team only picked up five medals, averaging 0.63 per appearance.
The statistics speak for themselves. It is difficult not to be in awe of the success that he has lead the German team to in recent times. Undoubtedly, one element that Bartle will bring to the British Team is stability. In recent Championships, Yogi Breisner has been keen to give new riders their Senior Team debuts and frequently makes changes to the squad. The only consistently present figure has been that of William Fox-Pitt, whom is pretty much a dead-cert on every team given the strength in depth of horsepower he has access to and his reputation for pulling results out of the bag at the highest level. Besides him, the likes of Izzy Taylor, Tina Cook, Pippa Funnell, Oliver Townend, Kitty King, Mary King, Nicola Wilson and Laura Collett and Gemma Tattersall, have all flitted in and out of the Senior Squad. Competition for Team GB selection is arguably the most intense.
It is difficult to be a consistent Team member, as younger riders are keen for a chance and more experienced riders are out with a point to prove. The Team GB Performance Manager, regardless of whom it is, has had an extremely tough and rigorous selection process to ensure the right Team goes into the Championships.
As German Manager, Chris Bartle’s Team selection was pretty predictable. Of course, this is to the enormous credit to the excellence of the handful of German riders, whom are consistently challenging at the pinnacle of the sport.
In his four Olympic Games, only Bettina Hoy in Athens, Dirk Scrade in London and Julia Krojewski in London featured in just a single games. Every other selected team member featured in at least two Olympics and Ingrid Klimke was a central component, appearing at all four. Bartle also showed consistency in his squad selection for the World Equestrian Games. Again, only Frank Ostholt, Sandra Auffarth, Herbert Blocker and Inken Johanssen featured in a mere one Championship, which the latter two both being selected in Bartle’s maiden WEG team. When the two are combined, only Peter Thomsen, Herbert Blocker, Inker Johanssen and Julia Krojewski, whom was a slightly surprising, younger selection for the 2016 Rio Olympics, were not to feature in a World Equestrian Game and an Olympic Games for Battle and his German squad.
However, surely he will be hard-pushed to consistently select the same four British Team Members, as so many combinations are in the running for selection and after every Championships, you can think of a number of riders unfortunate to have missed out.
Another key element to German success since Christopher Bartle taking charge has been their dominance in the Dressage phase. Few Nations have laid a glove on them in that discipline, leaving the likes of Britain, France, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand to be chasing them going into the Cross Country and Show Jumping. Battle himself competed in the 1984 Olympic games for the pure British Dressage Team and he has also won Badminton 1998, after winning a European Team Gold medal the previous year.
Joining Chris, is newly-appointed Performance Manager, Richard Waygood, the former Performance Manager for the British Dressage squad. This addition has again bolstered Britain’s credentials of being medal hopefuls, but the new coach only has a few months to gel with the squad before he has to select his first squad. Bartle’s first major task will be selecting a team to challenge reigning European Champions and Bartle’s former team, Germany, in addition to Olympic Champions, France, at the Senior European Championships in Strzegom in Summer 2017.