Brits come out on top as Klimke takes individual gold
Sarah Carless reports …
Great Britain once again took top spot on championship podium after taking team gold at the FEI European Eventing Championships as Germany’s Ingrid Klimke took her first individual title.
A jubilant British team, who were in third after dressage but stormed into the lead following an eventual cross country day, were able to celebrate three superb rounds in the final phase to hold onto their overnight lead and clinch the longed-for team title. In the end, the British team added just two penalties to their combined dressage score to finish on 113.9 penalties – 9.1 ahead of Germany.
Klimke meanwhile has been a key member of the German team for 17 years but has never tasted individual glory. The pressure was on as both riders behind her jumped clear on the final day. But she kept calm under the pressure to jump a faultless round with Horseware Hale Bob OLD to win her first individual title and lead Germany to team silver.
Triple European champion Michael Jung’s winning run finally ended and the German sportingly settled for individual silver with a clear round on fischerRocana. Britain’s Nicola Wilson went clear on Bulana to take bronze, her first individual medal, while team mates Tina Cook (Billy The Red) and Ros Canter (Allstar B) lined up behind her in fourth and fifth.
New champion Klimke commented: “You just have to keep going and after 20 years it will happen! I always want to be a team player, but this was my dream.”
Bronze medallist Wilson commented: “I think I’m still pinching myself. I’m delighted with how Bulana has been this season and she’s been a superstar all week. She’s such a special horse and has just been fantastic this championships. I just can’t thank everyone enough, and I’m so pleased for her owners James and Jo Lambert. I feel very fortunate and lucky to have her, she’s a great friend. It’s just been amazing. I feel so incredibly lucky – we’ve had fantastic support from the grooms and owners this week from start to finish.”
Cook, who was part of the “‘We are very excited to be back on top. We’ve got some amazing riders and horses and we’ve worked hard for this. We were really wanting that gold, it’s been a few years and it’s fantastic to be back in this position. It’s been such a strong team performance all week and has just been fantastic. I’m so pleased with Billy The Red, he is such an exciting horse for the future. There have been some amazing riders and horses here, and our support team have just been so brilliant this week. It’s all so different than in 2009 – I’m on a different horse and a different team but it’s still just as special.
Team debutant Canter reflected: “To be surrounded by this team and the whole of the GB team has just
been fantastic. I don’t think it’s still really sunk in yet. It’s so exciting to be part of this team, with all their experience around me and it’s so special for us all. The excitement of it all is just amazing.”
Oliver Townend, who withdrew Cooley SRS before the final horse inspection but played a pivitol role as pathfinder for the British team, said: “The whole week has had such a positive feel about it and it’s been a real team effort.
Gemma Tattersall, who had been in medal contention going into the final phase before dropping two poles commented: “It’s obviously not what I was hoping for. I was really pleased with how she jumped in there, I don’t know what happened at those fences but I’m very happy with her and for the British team.”
Britain’s other individual rider Piggy French just tipped one fence on Jayne McGivern’s Quarrycrest Echo to finish in 28th place. Following her round Piggy said; “It’s been a nearly but not quite week. Today he just rolled a pole in the jumping but was super everywhere else. He’s really stepped up this week – he’s definitely had his biggest year yet and he’s a very exciting horse; there’s lots to look forward to.”
Performance Manager Richard Waygood said of the British team: “We had a fantastic culture and team environment from beginning to end. Sometimes it’s not the winning, it’s the way that you win, and we won with precision and style Everybody rode with great belief and Oliver took the ultimate sacrifice of going first cross country and his feedback was invaluable; he set the tone by having two blips but never gave up to the finish line and amazingly only incurred two time penalties. This was then replicated with the same fighting spirit through the rest of the team and our two individual riders’ performances in both the cross-country and jumping. We are delighted, but this is the first stepping stone towards our ultimate dream.”
Sweden held onto team bronze, but Sara Algotsson Ostholt had a less than happy jumping round on Reality 39 with three rails down, dropping them from third to ninth.
Sweden’s coach Fredrik Bergendorff said of his team’s result; “It was great fun for Sweden and for the riders themselves, they have worked so professionally all the way. We have worked a lot about the team feeling and that everyone should understand and support each other and it really made a difference.There are lots of ideas on how to work on now, so let’s get down and plan ahead.”