Sarah Carless reports ….
A European championship record gave Bettina Hoy a commanding lead after the first day of competition at the FEI European Eventing Championships at Strzegom.
Riding Seigneur Medicott as part of the German team, Hoy, who took the title 20 years ago with Watermill Stream at Burghley, scored two 10s for her riding and set a European Championship record with her mark of 24.6 penalties and boosted Germany’s chances of a fourth successive team gold.
After her test she commented: “Micky is a pleasure to ride, which makes my job easier. The team is feeling very positive. We are lucky to have such a good system of training riders in Germany and we all motivate each other.”
Thomas Carlile of France had the unenviable job of following Hoy into the arena, but he rose to the challenge to lie in second place on 34.4 penalties with Upsilon. Carlile commented: “Bettina is a super rider to watch. I expected to be behind her, but perhaps not quite so far behind! Upsilon is mature for his age and very precise, so I was able to put the pressure on myself, but in a good way.”
The atmospheric arena at Strzegom has brought out the best in others too, as three more combinations have scored below 40 penalties. Swiss team member Felix Vogg, who works part time for his father’s real estate company, is in fourth place with Onfire with 37.2; Sweden’s Louise Svensson-Jahde (Wieloch’s Utah Sun) is fifth and Britain’s Ros Canter is sixth on Allstar B with a personal best of 38.6.
Alongside team mate Julia Krajewski’s score of 36.3 with Samourai du Thot, Hoy put the defending European champions are in a strong position with a combined score of 60.9 ahead of France (75.9) and Great Britain (82.4). But Sweden and Italy are also in close contention in fourth and fifth.
Britain’s pathfinder Oliver Townend and Cooley SRS finished the day in 12th place with a score of 43.8. Commenting on his test, Oliver said; “Cooley SRS is a very good horse, he’s only 10 years old so he’s relatively inexperienced at this level – it’s his first championships, but I’m very pleased and proud of him, he just had the one mistake which proved costly. From the start of being selected I thought that he was a good team horse and I was hoping that they put him first to go so that he could go in and do his job and hopefully progress. I think from a team point of view it’s a very good starting score and I think if we get everybody as near to that score, if not better, and complete on it then we’ll be doing very well.”
Commenting on her personal best score Ros Canter, who is making her senior team debut, commented; “I’m really excited, I watched Julia’s [Krajewski] test this morning and thought it was beautiful, so I’m quite pleased I wasn’t too far behind her, and I’m excited to look back on my test. I was quite nervous this morning when I was watching the other tests but I went and did my usual preparation, watching some videos of Alby’s past performances, and just settled my nerves. He went in and just really performed for me in there.”
Piggy French, competing as an individual with Jayne McGivern’s young horse Quarrycrest Echo, was awarded a score of 46.2 penalties for 17th at the end of the first day.
A disappointed Piggy spoke after her test; “I’m a bit gutted; this week really counts and I thought he was as good as he’s ever been. When he goes into canter he usually picks up the marks, but it was a bit flat today so I’m gutted. It’s disappointing but there’s lots more to come. It’s really exciting to be back, it wasn’t the plan at the beginning of this year – if someone had told me six months ago I wouldn’t have thought it, but he’s earnt his place this year. It’s been such fun getting back into it and I’ve really enjoyed it.”