Timmy Orritt reports ..
On Tuesday 7th August, the 2018 Pony Europeans got underway at Bishop Burton College, Yorkshire, with Hattie Grace and Vincent Jones and Simon Grace’s “Noble Superman”, Saffie Osborne and Lord and Lady Blyth’s “Little Indian Feather”, Ellie Healy and her own “Midnight Dreamer II”, and Daisy Proctor and her own “Holiday Chase”, being selected to represent Great Britain in the Charles Owen Pony Squad, as well as Georgia King with Anya Kolleth’s “Drop The Subject” and Connie Gill with “Movie Star” competing as individuals.
Tuesday saw the first horse inspection take place, followed by the Opening Ceremony including the competitor’s parade – where all the teams from each of the 16 countries competing paraded around Bishop Burton’s indoor arena with flags and dressed in their respective countries colours – a stunt horse performance, and a fast display of synchronised military riding. This is the second time Bishop Burton has hosted the Pony European’s, the first time being in 2010, which was the last time they were held in the UK, when team GB rode to secure team gold in front of a supportive home crowd.
The first competitive phase took place on Thursday 9th with a day of dressage seeing Ellie, Georgia and Hattie riding for GB. Ellie scored a mark of 28.1, Hattie a score of 32.8, and Georgia was rewarded a mark of 37.4. Day 2 of dressage on Friday meant it was Connie, Saffie and Daisy’s turn to compete, with Saffie scoring 28, Daisy finished with a mark of 31.4, and Connie was given a score of 34.2. this meant that, at the end of the two days of dressage, Team GB was in silver medal position with a total score of 87.5, with the German’s in pole position on a score of 77.1. The members from the German team were sat in gold, silver and bronze places individually as well, with Saffie Osborne a the highest placed Brit in 5th. France had secured bronze medal position with a score of 95.6 after the dressage, with Lisa Gualtieri as their highest placed team rider on a score of 29.2 in equal 7th with Ireland’s Chloe Fagan and Fernhill Timbacktoo.
On Saturday, an action packed cross country day saw a real change in the team and individual line up, and clear rounds from Saffie, Daisy and Hattie saw team GB rise to gold medal position with 97 penalties, with Saffie Osborne sat in individual gold place overnight going into the showjumping. Ireland pulled up from fourth place into silver medal position with a mark of 99.5 after all four of their team riders, Chloe Fagan, Isabelle Comerford, Harry Swan and Holly Love, put in spectacular rounds to all finish clear. France stayed sat in bronze medal position on a score of 100.5, meaning that going into the showjumping there was still all to play for with the Brits having less than one pole in hand. As an individual, there was also immense pressure on Saffie who, despite being in the lead, couldn’t afford to drop a single pole if she wanted to keep her lead and win gold, as there was less than one pole between the top three, and less than two poles between the top ten. Chloe Fagan had risen into individual silver place on a score of 29.2, just behind Saffie’s score of 28, and bronze position was occupied by Sophia Rossel for Germany who’s time penalties cross country dropped her to a score of 30.1.
Showjumping day rolled around, and saw GB maintain their lead to finish up in Gold medal position after Saffie and Daisy jumped faultless clear rounds, with Hattie incurring 4 penalties, and Ellie 9, to finish on an unbeatable total score of 101, ahead of Ireland who took Silver on a score of 107.5, and France in Bronze just one penalty behind the Irish on a final mark of 108.5 penalties.
Individually, Saffie kept her cool and jumped a spotless clear round to take Gold as she finished on her dressage score of 28. Speaking to British Eventing reporters, Saffie commented “I’m over the moon for everybody, it couldn’t have gone much better really! Everyone deserves this so much!” Daisy’s clear round managed to bring her up the rankings from 5th after the cross country to take individual bronze on a score of 32.2! The silver medal went to Ireland’s Sophie Foyle and Little Miss Fernhill who also finished on their dressage score of 32.1, after jumping another faultless double clear. The rest of the British riders all finished in very respectful positions, with Ellie and Midnight Dancer finishing in 27th on a score of 64.7, Georgia and Drop The Subject coming 21st with 47.4, Hattie and Noble Superman finishing in 15th with 40.8, and Connie and Movie Star II being placed 8th on 34.2.
We would like to wish everyone who competed at Bishop Burton in the Pony Europeans a massive congratulations, as to even manage to be selected to compete there for your country is a huge honour and something each rider should be immensely proud of regardless of their result. Of course, we are especially thrilled for our British girls, who have all done amazingly well and made everyone so proud of them!