Sarah Carless reports …..
Germans dominate with record breaking score
Germany took a commanding lead at the FEI European Eventing Championships with a record breaking team score following the dressage.
Rising to new heights, their three best marks totaled 87.7 penalties, giving the defending champions a 24.1-penalty lead over France, with Great Britain breathing down their necks just 0.1 behind in bronze medal position.
Bettina Hoy (GER) riding Seigneur Medicott maintained her lead, but this was cut to 5.7-penalties as team mate Ingrid Klimke slotted into second place with Horseware Hale Bob OLD. With a clean sweep of the top three positions, defending individual champion Michael Jung is third on 32.8 with fischerRocana FST. In total, 15 riders achieved sub-40 dressage scores.
Klimke commented: “Bobby did a wonderful job. He was listening so well to me that I could guide him where I wanted. Dressage is his least favourite phase so I did some jumping this morning to keep him happy and then just a 20-minute warm-up. He knows when it is a big occasion. Tomorrow’s cross-country should suit him as he is very clever and balanced and good on his feet. I am looking forward to a neat clear round.”
Jung commented: “I am very happy with Roxy – she was in fantastic form and very nice to ride. We have prepared very well, but you are always a little bit nervous beforehand because no horse is a machine.
It’s an unbelievable start for the team, which is important, but cross country is a strong day and we will have to concentrate. You’ve got to focus on yourself and not worry too much what is happening to other people because it will be a long day.”
There were three personal best scores delivered by British riders, and it was individual rider Gemma Tattersall who pushed the German’s the hardest to finish the first day in fourth, with Quicklook V, on a score of 33.1
She commented: “Team GB wanted me to ride as an individual so I could fight for myself and get a medal, which is my dream. It’s incredible pressure, but I’ll be trying my absolute best. My aim was to get a personal best on Quicklook and we’ve done it – we’re not too far from Ingrid. For the first time ever, Quicklook felt a little bit nervous so I was cautious at first and then she realised it was just a normal dressage test and the marks went up.”
Tina Cook, who produced a beautiful test with Billy The Red on a personal best score of 38.2 penalties, to
sit 12th on the leader board. Commenting afterwards Tina said: “I’m really, really pleased with him, there’s a lot of atmosphere in there. He’s only a ten-year-old so he’s still a relatively young horse and I hope I’ll have him at this level for many years. He’s a lovely, lovely horse, very elegant horse but also very bright.”
Nicola Wilson and Bulana also delivered another outstanding performance for the British camp for 35.1 penalties – a personal best for the combination – to see them finish the day in seventh place.
“I’m just thrilled with her, she is such a competitor, and I’m just so incredibly proud,” commented Wilson afterwards, “she gave me as much as she could and really coped with the atmosphere and the pressure in there. She just keeps getting better, that was another personal best for her, so that’s three in a row for her now. I’m just over the moon and I’m so pleased for James and Jo Lambert who own her.”
Attention now turns to Rüdiger Schwarz’s cross-country track and, although the Germans have the luxury of such a strong lead, riders predict that his course will be influential with a tight time and a number of accuracy questions which will require full focus from both horse and rider.
Dressage leader Hoy commented: “Riders like Ingrid and Michi will make it look easy, but I think it’s a clever course in that the time will be difficult but many riders will complete. We’re all very much looking forward to it.”
Ludwig Svennerstal, riding Paramount Importance, a member of the Swedish team, commented: :It’s a tough track and the cross-country time will be tight, so things could change tomorrow. It will be exciting.”
Oliver Townend commented: “It’s a very serious course, it’s not gonna be a dressage competition. That’s for sure. Right from fence three on to the end it’s either a big fence or a serious angled question. It’s gonna be extremely tough.”
Photographs courtesy of John Stroud Media