Ruth Gregory reports …
Team GB grabs gold whilst Healy heads induvial glory
The Charles Owen Pony squad retained their European title in style over the weekend in Strzegom Poland. They lead from start to finish to grasp gold. Whilst induvial glory went to Finn Healy and Ibble Watson took silver.
The team made up of Finn Healy, Daisy Bathe, Ibble Watson and Freya Partridge each put in impressive dressage performances to sit in poll position going into the jumping phases on a team score of 88.4. Daisy Bathe riding Georgina Herrling’s SF Detroit were in individual bronze position with a score of 26.8, only 1.4 penalties off the German leader Sophia Rössel riding Camillo We.
Going into the cross-country phase the British Chef D’Equipe Jill Barker described the track as, “a true championship track.” This was shown as there were plenty of problems scattered across the field. However, the British team kept their cool to remain in front.
Freya Partridge and Master Macky had the job as pathfinders for the team and cruised around coming home inside the optimum time of 5 minutes and 45 seconds. This helped the team but also secured her 10th position going into the show jumping phase.
Second rider for the team was Ibble Watson, riding Erica Watson’s Bookhamlodge Pennylane. The combination also skipped around the course putting another all-important clear round in the bag for Britain and keeping them in 7th position individually.
Finn Healy and Ellie Healy’s Midnight Dancer II survived a scare at the double skinnies, a jump that proved very influential, to storm around the course rising them into 6th place. Finn gave the crowd some entertainment by taking a flyer at the final fence followed by a fist pump in the air as he raced across the line clear inside of the time.
Daisy Bathe and SF Detroit only picked up a couple of time penalties from a very polished round to move them up into induvial gold position going into show jumping.
The German leaders were both dropped down the order after occurring time penalties.
The induvial riders also put in great performances. Xanthe de Wesselow and Baramona Lass meant business posting a brilliant ride inside the time to stay on their dressage of 34.5. And Amelia Ludiman and Tyan Mist had a great round, unfortunately they had an unlucky refusal at the second to last fence causing them to add a frustrating 20 penalties and 5.5 time to their dressage score, leaving them on 58.6.
It was certainly going to go down to the wire with everything still to play for on the final days show jumping.
Britain’s efforts were nothing short of perfect in the show jumping where their rounds secured them team gold with 18 penalties to spare! An achievement that was particularly special as the course was technical with a tight time, meaning clear rounds were sparse.
However, it was Finn Healy and Midnight Dancer II who was awarded the Individual European champion title rising 5 places from 6th after cross country. They jumped a fantastic round to add a mere 0.4-time penalties, completing on a score of 31.3 and keep the pressure on those still to jump ahead of him. However, as poles fell for those Finn and Casper (Midnight Dancer II) rose up the standings until they found themselves landed with the individual Gold medal.
Daisy Bathe and SF Detroit were leaders after the cross-country phase and entered the arena last. They looked to be jumping a super round until they had an uncharacteristic stop late on in the course and knocked the final fence to drop them to 7th individually but still secure team gold.
Ibble Watson and Bookhamlodge Pennylane were 7th going into the ring and as expected jumped a lovely professional round to bag team GB its first clear before Finn. She posted a great score of 32.7 and was left to see if the others above could better her. However, as the they dropped fences Ibble and Disney (Bookhamlodge Pennylane) climbed the leader board to finish in an eventual individual silver position.
The pathfinder Freya Partridge and Master Macky were consistent as always to only add an unlucky four faults. Her great efforts throughout the week were rewarded and she found herself finishing within the top 10 as well as the key team gold medal.
As for the individual girls, Xanthe de Wesselow completed her week by also ocurring four faults with a few times to finish within the top 10.
“It was an amazing experience, a great venue and great teammates, making it such an enjoyable week. Having wanted to go for years I was so excited but had no expectations, so it really was the icing on the cake to have a top 10 finish on my amazing pony.
The cross-country was awesome and definitely my favourite part!”
Whilst, 13-year-old Ameila Ludiman and Tyan Mist put in a sterling effort to finish 22nd. A fantastic achievement for the pair considering they both only stepped up to Novice in March!
Finn told us about his victory;
“I’m over the moon with how Casper performed this week and he exceeded all expectations, as we were coming for the experience with it being my first season on him, so to win was just a complete shock!
He was working really well for the days leading up to the dressage, probably the best he’s ever felt, so I knew if he stayed relaxed, we could pull off a strong test, which he did giving us a fantastic start!
The cross-country he was unbelievable around the most technical track, it was incredible to be lying in 6th overnight at the Europeans!
Then the show jumping I knew if he jumped clear I would be in with a shot of a medal, however I never imagined it would be a gold one! To help the team win gold as well was an incredible feeling to enjoy the success together!
I’m so thankful to my whole family for making it possible, especially my sister for producing him for 4 years to being what he is today!”
Finn’s sister Ellie paired with the gelding at the Europeans last year to also help the team secure gold. She told us on how she felt about Finn and her superstar pony’s win.
“I’m just unbelievably so proud of both of them, to think that 5 years ago we bought Casper as a just backed 4-year-old with me just being 12 years old, to now being a double European champion, it is just a dream come true! I always knew he had it in him and Finn and I both agree that we wouldn’t have wanted to be sat on any other pony so it’s only right his got his moment today.
I just can’t put into words how much I love him, at Frickley Park U18 2 years ago he had 7 poles down, so he really has come such a long way, but has always been a cross country machine. Finn and I are both extremely grateful for the experiences that our little pony Casper has given us! He will now be looking forward to returning to his field shelter at home until ours stables are finished being built!”
The medal ceremony was emotional as the squad had dedicated their achievement to their good friend and fellow long listed member Iona Sclater, who the eventing world was stunned to learn she sadly lost her life in a riding accident at home last week (Sunday 12th August).
Our young pony riders certainly did the eventing community proud and it’s exciting to see the stars of the future! Congratulations from Eventing Worldwide and we look forward to following your eventing careers further.