Germany has strengthened its stronghold on the gold medals going into the show jumping at the FEI European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle.
As well as maintaining the Gold medal position in the team standings, giving a masterclass in cross country riding, Michael Jung with FischerTakinou have now moved into the individual Gold medal position. He commented: “I know that FischerTakinou is a very fast horse, he is very strong in the cross country and very easy to handle in front of the fences so I didn’t lose many seconds at the fences. I was very happy with his round. The feeling was absolutely brilliant.”
Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo, who led after the dressage, were held out on the cross country course and dropped into second place individually after incurring 11.2 time penalties. She is 9.1 penalties behind her compatriot and later said: “My horse made it easy for me, he is a really good jumper. The course rode as I expected – everything went to my plan. My horse did a great job and I am so happy to ride him. They are still checking the time. My feeling was that I was a lot faster than my time on the board is.”
The last German team member Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob also incurred time faults – 8.8 – on deteriorating ground after a day of none-stop rain, but she remains in contention in sixth place individually.
Chris Bartle, Chef D’Equipe of the German Team, said at the end of the day; “As each rider completed their ride, they’d achieved the goals set for them so we can comfortably say to the next rider go and do what we had planned to do. We were aware of the change in the going but we didn’t have to change anything.”
Great Britain remain in Silver medal position in the team standings, despite the retirement of William Fox Pitt and Bay My Hero after two refusals at Fence 17, the Joules Brush Arrowhead.
The third of Great Britain’s team riders Pippa Funnell and Sandman stormed around the cross country and lie in 10th after the cross country. She commented: “It was tough. But you have to put it to the back of your mind and pretend you are out hunting again. I feel in these conditions you are under less pressure because you have to ride what you are feeling. It doesn’t matter what the orders are, when the going is great you don’t have an excuse. But in these conditions safety is an issue so you have to ride your horse and how they are feeling. Sandman 7 answered all the questions, for where he is I couldn’t ask any more.”
Great Britain’s Izzy Taylor with Briarlands Matilda has moved into the individual Bronze medal position – pulling up from 26th after the dressage. Izzy was held at the start before setting off due to issues on the course. She commented: “I didn’t expect it to go that well. She is a super cross country horse and I set out there very positive and hoped it would go well. I was very pleased with her. She tripped on the corner at the second last and that really took the wind out of her but she was excellent to go then – it was the only blip we had. It’s always tricky being held whether it’s out on course or about to go. It was quite cold for us and a bit of a worry with the horses, especially with her being a mare, you don’t want their muscles to get sore so they can’t run and jump as well as they should do. She is a fantastic cross country horse and she really was great today.”
Kitty King, Gemma Tattersall and Laura Collett are all in the top ten going into the show jumping, lying in fifth, seventh and 9th respectively. Wills Oakden produced a clear round, albeit with time faults, on his championship debut. He said: “It was hard work. The ground has deteriorated – they have done an amazing job with it – it’s not her ground at all so I had to use my head. The crowd were incredible all the way, especially in the main arena and it gave us a real boost.”
France have retained their team Bronze medal position. Several teams have been eliminated following falls and rider retirements on the cross country, including Ireland, Switzerland, Italy and Belgium.
Only three riders went under the optimum time, all of whom are in the top ten at the end of the day – Michael Jung, Izzy Taylor and Gemma Tattersall. There were a number of holds on course throughout the day and Element B of Fence 21 – the Haggis Neeps and Tatties was removed after several falls.
Of the track, Course Designer Ian Stark commented: “We made the decision to take the fence out – it was my decision backed by the ground jury. We fixed the ground but they were still sliding around a little. As the horses went down the stones were mixing in with the mud and it got better but we couldn’t risk another fall.”
Despite the removal of the fence Ian was happy with how the course rode. He added: “The weather certainly affected the end result. The trouble was spread all round and some great names went out and some inexperienced combinations got around so I have to be happy with it. The German riders excelled on the course. I thought they all rode brilliant – great balance, great feel and I was thrilled to see it.”
The final horse inspection takes place tomorrow morning (9.15am) and show jumping will start at 11.30am for the lower placed riders. Show jumping for the higher placed riders starts at 14.05pm.
Photography courtesy of Dave Cameron Gallery below
Top Ten Individuals after Cross Country
1; Michael Jung, FischerTakinou (GER), 33.5
2; Sandra Auffarth, Opgun Louvo (GER), 42.6
3; Izzy Taylor, KBIS Briarlands Matilda (GBR), 44.0
4; Thibault Vallette, Qing du Briot (FRA), 45.2
5; Kitty King, Persimmon (GBR), 45.3
6; Ingrid Klimke, Horseware Hale Bob (GER), 46.6
7; Gemma Tattersall, Arctic Soul (GBR), 47.3
8; Dirk Schrade, Hop and Skip (GER), 48.3
9; Laura Collett, Grand Manoeuvre (GBR), 48.6
10; Pippa Funnell, Sandman 7 (GBR), 50.6
Team Standings after Cross Country
2; Great Britain