The Germans dominated the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships 2015 at Blair Castle, claiming both the team and individual titles – a repeat of Malmo two years ago.
Michael Jung had two fences in hand over his compatriot Sandra Auffarth going into the show jumping phase but he rode a superb clear round to finish well clear of the rest of the field on 33.5.
Afterwards he said; “For me it is very important to look to the future. Now I can say I have a new champion for the future. I am very happy that I have FischerTakinou – he’s a top horse but a young horse and I think he’s quality for the next big championships.”
Team mate Sandra finished 9.1 penalties behind Michael. She had one moment of worry in the show jumping when Opgun Louvo slipped on the corner before Fence 10. She said: “It was not the best feeling to slip but I didn’t worry because I was far enough away from the next fence. It’s a great feeling to be part of this team.”
Great Britain, who had never previously been beaten on home soil at a major championship, claimed the silver medal with all three scores counting after William Fox Pitt’s retirement on cross country yesterday. Nicola Wilson caught an unlucky pole with One Two Many, but clear rounds by Pippa Funnell and Sandman 7 (who finished eighth individually) and Kitty King on Persimmon (who finished fourth individually) meant they could not be caught by the French team.
Following the show jumping, Pippa said: “It was lovely that Sandman has gone through the three days and showed the quality of horse he is. He will have gained so much in experience and I hope it keeps my dreams alive for next year. The main thing I wanted to get out of it was to enjoy it and I certainly have.”
Both Laura Collett (on Grand Manoeuvre) and Gemma Tattersall (on Arctic Soul) had uncharacteristic refusals in the show jumping. Despite the frustration, Laura (who finished 13th individually) said; “I’m hugely proud of the horse. It’s still a really new partnership and it’s just getting better and better. It’s really exciting for the future, I know it’s all there. It’s brilliant to be part of the team and hopefully we have another chance.”
Oliver Townend produced a lovely clear round with Fenyas Elegance to finish in 17 individually. He believes they would have been in individual medal contention if they had not picked up the 20 penalties on the cross country. Of the horse he now plans to take to Badminton next Spring, he said: “It’s nice to jump a clear on the third day. She is a good jumper and a clear round jumper in general and I am glad it ended that way. She is a new ride and hopefully we have a few more trips in her.”
On her senior championship debut, Holly Woodhead – who finished 21st individually – reflected: “I’m thrilled with the horse. It could have gone better but it could have gone a lot worse. I have a sound, fit horse and I’m really looking forward to our future.”
In winning the Bronze medal, France secured their qualification for the Olympic Games in Rio next summer, whilst Thibault Vallette and Qing Du Briot also claimed the individual Bronze medal after Izzy Taylor added four faults to her score, dropping her out of the medals.
Of his bronze medal, Thibault commented: “It’s the first time I have been part of the team for a championship. Of course I really didn’t think I would be here this afternoon. The target was to qualify the team for the Rio Olympics and that is done. So for me it is a double victory to be here.”
Despite the frustration in the Ireland camp, Sam Watson competing Horseware Lukeswell as an individual pulled up from 27th to finish 12th on the horse he hopes will take him to Rio. He said: “I honestly think it’s been a really unlucky week as the lads didn’t do much wrong yesterday. This horse get’s a massive A star for that effort – he has done nothing wrong. He is the youngest horse in our team here. We have some great horses at home coming through but he is going to be one with a huge championship under his belt now and ticked a lot of boxes this week.”
Event Director Alec Lochore said of the championship: “The team worked very hard, I’m very proud of all we have achieved. I hope the eventing world has come to this beautiful part of Scotland and enjoyed it. There have been a few challenges – especially the rain yesterday – but the best team won, they made easy work of a bit of Scotch mist. I hope everybody goes home with fond memories of Blair Castle.”
Photography courtesy of Dave Cameron (full gallery below)
Final Individual Standings
Gold; Michael Jung, FischerTakinou (GER), 33.5
Silver; Sandra Auffarth, Opgun Louvo (GER), 42.6
Bronze; Thibault Vallette, Qing du Briot (FRA), 45.2
4; Kitty King, Persimmon (GBR), 45.3
5; Ingrid Klimke, Horseware Hale Bob (GER), 46.6
6; Izzy Taylor, KBIS Briarlands Matilda (GBR), 48.0
7; Dirk Schrade, Hop and Skip (GER), 48.3
8; Pippa Funnell, Sandman 7 (GBR), 50.6
9; Gemma Tattersall, Arctic Soul (GBR), 53.3
10; Peter Thomsen, Horsewares Barny (GER), 57.7
Final Team Standings
Silver; Great Britain