Sarah Carless reports …
Britain takes lead after day of surprises –
Britain stormed to the top of the team standings at the FEI European Eventing Championships following
a day of surprises at Strzegom.Despite team pathfinder Oliver Townend incurring 40 jumping penalties with Cooley SRS, three brilliant fault free jumping rounds from Ros Canter, Tina Cook and Nicola Wilson pushed the team to pole position at the end of the day, with four riders from the Great Britain camp in the top ten.
Wilson, who is lying fourth individually with Bulana having added just 0.4 time penalties to her dressage score, commented: “Bulana is so honest and good on a line. She was in a rhythm from start to finish. It’s very exciting! We had a group team hug and a jump around!”
Tina Cook, who won the individual title in 2009 and now lies in sixth place with Billy The Red, commented: “The team really needed this, and I am so pleased I was able to do it on this horse. I save him for going quickly on the big occasions and he was so. Good I could even take a pull at the end. This means everything to me.”
Ros Canter, who is making her senior team debut at these championships, finished the day in eighth with Allstar B having added just 1.6 time penalties to her dressage score. She commented: “I am lucky to have had all the nations cup experience, which is team experience but not so much pressure as this. I don’t think I will ever sit on another horse like this. He’s so strong and honest.”
Riding as an individual, Gemma Tattersall has put herself in contention of an individual medal following another clear for the British camp, adding just 3.6 time penalties to be lying fifth going into the final phase.
Piggy French, also riding as an individual with Quarrycrest Echo, had a frustrating run out at the third element of Fence 24 having had a great round to that point. She said: “I think our run out was probably my fault which is irritating as the horse was fabulous until then. He felt a little tired and I think I was slightly to the left. When I asked him to go, the reaction wasn’t there.”
Christopher Bartle, the former German trainer who is now training the British riders, commented: “’We didn’t expect to be in the lead tonight, but we have come quietly from behind. Oliver Townend did a great job and never gave up. I have taken lots of teasing from my German friends, but I must say that I am very happy to be back with the British.”
Despite the German team’s problems, Britain has only two fences in hand over the defending champions
with Ingrid Klimke (Horseware Hale Bob) and triple European champion Michael Jung (fischerRocana FST) completing flawless rounds taking individual gold and silver medal positions. Jung posted one of the fastest times of the day coming home 15 seconds under the optimum time.
Overnight leader Klimke said: “I felt under pressure for sure, but Bobby was in such good form that I was nearly laughing and really had to concentrate. We had such fun out there!”
Jung, who won the individual title in 2011, 2013 and 2015, commented: ‘In the end I had a lot of time to spare at the end. It was a long wait but you must not start thinking there’s something wrong and then changing your plans. You need to stick to your original plans. I had a super round, very good.”
In total there were 63 completions, 35 clear rounds and four inside the optimum time of 10 minutes, and ten nations completed as teams. Sweden was the only nation to achieve four clear rounds, and are in bronze medal position with Sara Algotsson Ostholt and Reality 39 in individual third place.
Algotsson Ostholt said: “It was a long day and I saw a lot of mistakes and also a lot of good riding, but my team members did a great job and it’s a lot easier to go out when there have been three clear rounds already.”
The French, who were second after dressage, finished with only two riders after Gwendolen Fer had a fall with Traumprinz and Thomas Carlile, lying in sixth place, was eliminated for three refusals with the stallion Upsilon.
Despite the number of problems caused throughout the day, Course Designer Rudiger Schwarz, said: “I am proud to have built a course that made riders really focus on their lines and rewarded them when they did. I was surprised that some experienced riders made mistakes and I am pleased that so many teams, including less experienced riders, completed.”
There was a sad turn of events following completion of the cross country, when the organisers announced that Bob The Builder, ridden by Polish rider Michal Knapp, had been put down after sustaining an injury following a fall at Fence 15.
A statement said: “The horse received immediate treatment at the fence and was taken to the on-site veterinary clinic for further assessment. Sadly x-rays revealed an irreparable fracture of the horse’s front right long pastern bone (lower leg) and, on humane grounds and with the agreement of the owners and rider, the decision was taken to put the horse to sleep.”
IMAGES COURTESY OF JOHN STROUD MEDIA AND LIBBY LAW PHOTOGRAHY