Top tips for European Eventing Champions

      Germany's Michael Jung will be defending his 2015 title

 

Riders from 19 nations are entered for the FEI European Championships to take place at Strzegom in Poland from August 17th – 20th and An Eventful Life’s Debbie Higgs and Libby Law will be there to bring you daily reports, interviews and stunning photos

Of course there will be no representatives from Australia, New Zealand or USA but the crème de la crème of European riders and horses will be battling it out in the major Championship that takes place every second year between the Olympic Games and World Equestrian Games 

Top British equestrian journalist Kate Green takes a look at some of the hot combinations and some of the lesser known names to keep an eye on

 

Sara Algotsson-Ostholt and Reality 39 (SWE)

Sara has been a prominent member of Swedish teams since the 1990s, often with her older sister, Linda, and riding related home-bred horses. She came tantalisingly close to individual honours at the 2011 Europeans, but made up for it at the London Olympic Games the next year by taking the individual silver medal on Wega. This will be her third championship on Reality 39, a 13-year-old mare; the pair were 36th at the Rio Olympic Games and recently won Sopot CIC3*. Sara, 42, is married to German rider Frank Ostholt and has two children.

 

Thomas Carlile and Upsilon (FRA)

This is the rider many think might halt Michael Jung’s winning run – his beautiful grey stallion, a nine-year-old Anglo Arab by Centuro, is the horse everyone is talking about this season. The pair won the Event Rider Masters final at Blenheim last year as well as this year’s Barbury CIC3* in Britain and were second at Saumur in 2016. Thomas, 30, who is English born but lives in France, was a member of the bronze medal French team at Blair Castle in 2015 on Sirocco du Gers.

 

      Thomas Carlile and Upsilon - one of the hot favourites

 

Kristina Cook and Billy the Red or Calvino ll (GBR)

Kristina, 46, is one of the most experienced riders here at Strzegom; she has been on the senior British squad for 24 years and this is her eighth Europeans; she is the only mother to have won the European title, in 2009 on Miners Frolic, and her medal tally is three team golds plus individual gold, silver and bronze. She won team gold at the 1994 and 2010 World Equestrian Games plus team and individual bronze medals at the Beijing Olympics and team silver in London. Tina has two children and works with her racehorse trainer brother, Nick Gifford. Both her horses have solid CCI4* form.

 

Karin Donckers and Fletcha Van ‘t’ Verahof (BEL)

Karin’s senior team career goes right back to the Barcelona Olympics 25 years ago and she has been Belgium’s best known rider ever since. This is her seventh Europeans and she has entered a remarkable five horses; Fletcha Van ‘t’ Verahof, a 12-year-old Belgian warmblood, was her Olympic ride last year and they won Marbach CIC3* and were seventh at Blenheim CCI3*. Karin, 46, is ranked 10th in the world. She won team bronzes in 2003 and 2009.

 

Michael Jung and FischerRocana FST (GER)

The defending champion, is a phenomenon of the sport; he has won a record eight consecutive individual medals, he was the first rider to hold European, world and Olympic titles simultaneously and he equalled Ginny Elliot’s record of three European titles on three different horses. Michael, 35, won back to back Olympic titles on La Biosthetique Sam and a world title in 2010, plus the Rolex Grand Slam of CCI4* victories last year. This is his first Europeans with the 12-year-old mare FischerRocana FST (‘Roxy’), a back-to-back winner of Kentucky, plus world team gold and individual silver medals in 2014.

 

Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob (GER)

Ingrid, 49, is one of the most popular riders in eventing. She is the daughter of the hugely successful German Olympic dressage champion Dr Reiner Klimke and a mother of two daughters and has been a member of every German team since 2005, winning three Olympic team gold medals, two team world golds and three European team golds. Her first CCI4* victory was on ‘Bobby’, a 13-year-old Oldenburger, at Pau in 2014; they won European team gold in 2015, Olympic team silver last year and recently took the Aachen CIC3*.

 

Jonty Evans and Cooley Rorke’s Drift (IRL)

Jonty Evans may come to Strzegom with an interesting back story as Cooley Rorke’s Drift, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse, is for sale and he has launched a crowd-funding project on social media to try and buy the horse, the best he has ever ridden. The pair were ninth at the Rio Olympic Games last year and 20th at Badminton despite a late run-out and members of the winning Irish team in the FEI Nations Cup final in 2015. Jonty, 45, lives in England.

 

     Local hero Paweł Spisak and Banderas of Poland                 Photo courtesy Mariusz Chmieliński

 

Pawel Spisak and Banderas (POL)

Pawel, 36, is one of Poland’s most successful riders; he has competed at four Olympic Games, including Rio last year on Banderas, a 10-year-old Polish-bred gelding he has produced from 1* level. This is Pawel’s fourth senior European championship.

 

Alena Tseliapushkina and Passat (BLR)

Alena, 48, mainly competes in Eastern Europe but makes regular championship appearances for Belarus on Passat, a Trakehner – at 20, he is the oldest horse in Strzegom. They have done two Olympic Games together, completing in Beijing in 2008, plus the 2014 World Equestrian Games and the 2013 European championships.

 

Lt Col Thibaut Vallette and Qing du Briot ENE HN (FRA)

Thibaut, 43, won team and individual bronze medals in his first senior championship, the 2015 Europeans at Blair Castle, on Quing du Briot ENE HN, a 13-year-old Selle Francais. They were also members of the gold medal team at the Rio Olympic Games last year. Thibaut rides for the Cadre Noir in Saumur; he is married with five children.

 

Nicola Wilson and Bulana (GBR)

Nicola, 40, made her name as pathfinder for the British team on another striking black horse, Opposition Buzz. They won team gold at the 2009 Europeans and the 2010 World Equestrian Games, plus European team bronze in 2011 and Olympic silver in 2012. Nicola was a member of Britain’s silver medal team at Blair Castle in 2015. Bulana, an 11-year-old Dutch-bred mare, is equally eyecatching across country; they won Boekelo CCI3* in 2015 and were second at Luhmuhlen recently.

 

     Nicola Wilson and Bulana at Luhmuhlen

 

 

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