Burton and Klimke take the honours at Le Lion

EWWs Reports sponsored by RACESAFE

Sarah Carless reports……

Honours at the FEI Championships for Young Horses went to Australia and Germany with Christopher Burton and Ingrid Klimke claiming the titles at Le Lion D’Angers.

It was the 31st edition of the Championships, which have been staged annually since 1992, and spectators flocked into the venue at the Haras National at l‘Isle de Briand throughout the weekend, with a massive crowd of almost 35,000 spectators for Saturday’s cross-country phase.

Exciting new talent was highlighted in both age categories, with a total of 99 horses representing a range of studbooks.

Six-Year-Old Championships

Australia’s Christopher Burton took the honours in the Six-Year-Old Championship with Fire Fly. The pair had been in contention throughout the competition.

From the field of 40 starters, Germany’s Kai-Steffen Meier and the Trakehner stallion Painter’s Maxim took pole position after dressage on a score of 40.03. Belgium’s Lara de Liedekerke-Mei and the Hannoverian gelding Ducati D’Arville filled second spot on 42.3 while Britain’s Izzy Taylor and the KWPN chestnut mare Jockey Club Fleurelle slotted into third on 43.4. Burton was never far away however, holding fourth with Fire Fly on a score of 44.2 while Switzerland’s Felix Vogg and Mathurin V/D Vogelzan was sitting in fifth place on 45.3 going into the cross-country phase.

Pierre Michelet’s fantastic cross-country track jumped really well, with just one retirement and three eliminations around the course, and the time-allowed of 8 minutes 53 seconds proved well within the grasp of most, only nine collecting time penalties on the day. All of the top six held their spots, so it came down to yesterday’s final jumping round to decide the medal placings.

However, the show jumping proved influential with leader Kai-Steffan Meier dropping down to fourth with eight jumping penalties, and second placed Dutch rider Lara de LiedekerkeMeier dropping further down to sixth after also collecting eight penalties. Vogg and Burton each posted a brilliant clear to finish on their dressage scores, so when all those ahead of them faltered they soared up the leaderboard.

Second place went to Switzerland’s Felix Vogg on Mathurin VD Vogelzan, whilst Izzy Taylor was the highest placed British rider, claiming third spot WITH Jockey Club Fleurelle.

There was nothing boastful about Burton in the aftermath however, the 34-year-old double-Olympian acknowledging that fortune favoured him in the closing stages. “I am happy,” he said, “there were so many good six-year-old horses with good riders, I really needed all the luck for this win and I had exactly that in the jumping because my horse touched several poles that didn’t fall! There were others who were not so lucky. My horse performed exactly how I could have wished, and it’s great to finish this season so well.”

Seven-Year-Old Championships

Germany’s Ingrid Klimke led from start to finish to claim the Seven-Year-Old Championship with Weisse Duene. The pair added nothing to their dressage score of 36.9 giving them a dominant victory. The pairing led the dressage after dressage in the Six-Year-Old Championships last year but their chances were dashed then with a stop and time penalties on the cross-country course.

From a starting field of 59 there were five eliminations and one retirement on the cross-country course, with 19 getting home within the time of 9 minute 11 seconds while 17 collected fence penalties on their tour of the track.

It was a sweet gold-medal-winning success for Klimke whose horse demonstrated the very essence of what these Championships are all about. Things didn’t turn out so well for the pair 12 months ago, but it all came together for them this time around.

“My mare should be the one credited with this win” said the 48-year-old rider. “Last year her inexperience on the cross country cost us, but this year she was brilliant in the three tests and confirmed exactly what I think of her! She is definitely a mare for the future and she certainly has the potential to go to the Olympics in Tokyo in four years time!”

Britain’s Pippa Funnell secured second with Billy Walk On – 7.1 penalties behind the German winner. New Zealander Jonelle Price took third spot with Cooley Showtime, finishing on their dressage score of 47.3

Price commented: “I am very pleased with Le Lion this week. Cooley Showtime is a horse I have thought a lot of so it is nice he has come here and stood up against some of the best seven-year-olds in Europe. I think he is a good one for the future. He has all the right ingredients. It was really close and he performed under pressure here this week.”

Alongside Funnell, two other British riders finished inside the top ten – Gemma Tattersall and Chillis Gem and Emily Llewellyn and Emirati Nightsky.

During the cross country for the Seven-Year-Old Championships Ireland’s Camilla Speirs had a fall from Loughnavatta Cedar and was taken to hospital. But Speirs reassured her fans that she would live to fight another day and that her horse was also none the worse.

In the stud book classification, Sell Francais took the win, with KWPN second and the Irish Sport Horse Studbook in third.

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