Dreams come true at European Championships

 

 

Ten teams were left to battle it out after the second horse inspection on Sunday morning at the European Championships in Strzegom.

The overnight leader of the teams competition, Great Britain, had 9.1 penalties in hand over second placed Germany, which had been reduced to three team members after Bettina Hoy’s fall on Saturday, but Britain also found itself with just three team members on Sunday morning when Oliver Townend withdrew Cooley SRS

The home team Poland also found itself without a key member as the highest placed Polish horse, Pawel Spisak’s Banderas, lying in 11th place after cross country was held and not accepted on re-presenting. Only Sweden, in bronze medal winning position after the cross country and just 5.5 penalties behind Germany, was left with a full team of four team members and therefore able to utilise a discard score if needed

The show jumping course designed by Poland’s Szymon Tarant proved tricky for the morning’s competitors with just Manuel Senra Chover on Cruising (ESP), Katrin Khoddam-Hazrati on Cosma (AUT), Anna Freskgard on Box Qutie (SWE) and Pauliina Swindells on Ferro S (FIN) jumping clear rounds

However for the top 25 in the afternoon it proved less troublesome with several clear rounds coming straight after the lunch break. Julia Krajewski jumped the first team clear round for Germany but the crowd had to wait until the very end to see how her two team mates sitting in silver and gold medal individual positions would fare.

Sweden’s first rider was Niklas Lindback and, although his young horse Focus Filiocus rubbed a few poles, he was brilliantly piloted around the tricky course for a clear round. Ludwig Svennerstal was not quite so lucky, bringing down the final part of the triple combination, 11c, that had proved problematic for many in the morning and Louise Svensson Jahde’s Wieloch’s Utah Sun also had one down at the very first fence

Their final rider Sara Algotsson Ostholt was sitting in bronze medal position but three rails dropped her to ninth individually although the team still finished well ahead of Italy with a final score of 148.40 for team bronze

The British team of Ros Canter, Tina Cook and Nicola Wilson had two rails in hand heading into the showjumping but they did not need them with all three producing top class clear rounds and securing team gold before the final two riders for Germany entered the arena

 

 

Michael Jung’s fischerRocana and Ingrid Klimke’s Horseware Hale Bob both jumped beautifully under pressure but, as we all know, these two riders know how to handle pressure. For Ingrid, who has won many team gold medals including the last three European team championships, it was finally her turn for the individual gold and the man who came so close to a record four individual titles could not have been happier for her and delighted with his silver medals

“The first thing must be congratulations for Ingrid” said Michael “It was really perfect”

 

      Michael Jung and fischerRocana

 

“I always like to be a team player” said Ingrid “We’ve had many successes and great fun but you must have other goals and my dream was to one day win individual gold. Today was that day”

“You just have to keep going and twenty years later, or whenever it is, it will happen”

 

      Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob

 

For the individual bronze and team gold medallist, Britain’s Nicola Wilson, it was also the fulfilment of a long held goal

“I think I’m still pinching myself” said Nicola “It really is a dream come true. Obviously there are still two places to go (silver and gold) but I’m delighted with how Bulana has been all season, she’s just got better and better and each competition she’s done, she has done her personal best. She’s been a superstar all week, I’m so lucky to have her and she is such a good friend to me”

 

      Nicola Wilson and Bulana

 

The last time that Britain won team gold at the European Championships was in 2009,the last of an unbroken winning run of eight titles from 1995 to 2009 and they have now reclaimed the title from Germany, the team that have held it from 2011. At the European Championships in 2009 Tina Cook was the individual and team gold medallist and, although she didn’t take any individual medal today, she once again wore team gold

“We are very excited to be back in this position again, to be back on top” said Tina, speaking for the team “As a nation we’ve got some strong riders, some amazing horses and although we’ve got luck back on our side, we’ve worked hard for this luck. It’s great to be ahead of Germany, at last!”

Many will immediately point to how the tide has turned since Chris Bartle has come on board with Team GB, having moved from his coaching role with Germany at the start of this year. But Chris modestly attributes it to the riders having faith in what they can do and the entire team effort

“I said to myself and I said to them that this would be possible, you are good enough; whether you can do it is out of your hands, all you can do is your personal bests and they did that”

“The point I keep trying to make to them is that they are good and, if they keep refining the system (as I refer to it), if they go out there and repeat what they have been working so hard on then they are good enough for this result. We’re also lucky enough to have some fantastic horses and fantastic owners who have supported these riders so it is very much a team effort. Without those owners, we wouldn’t have these horses and I like to involve them as much as possible”

Final results here

 

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