The pressure is on this week at the 2015 European Championships, which begin on Wednesday, August 18th in Aachen, Germany. With 23 countries sending teams, and six countries sending individual riders, a podium finish will be coveted more than any other international show jumping result this year.
The reason, of course, are the impending 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The European Championships serve as the final chance for region A and B (Northwest and Southwest Europe) countries that have not yet qualified for Rio to earn their Olympic ticket. The three best-finishing countries at the European Championships, excluding those that have already qualified by other means, will earn their Olympic qualification.
So just who is in the hot seat? The Netherlands, France, Germany, Sweden and The Ukraine have all already qualified for Rio (along with non-European countries Brazil, USA, Canada, Argentina and Qatar). The strongest nations still needing to qualify for Rio include defending Olympic and European Champions Great Britain, recent Aga Khan winners Ireland, and Switzerland. Behind them Belgium, Spain, Denmark, Italy, Portugal and others will be seeking to steal a podium position away from the favorites. And it’s true that anything could happen. Great Britain is missing its strongest rider in FEI ranked World No. 1 Scott Brash, who opted to save his top mount Hello Sanctos for next month’s Spruce Meadows Masters, and British veteran Ben Maher will be riding the relatively green Diva II.
France’s Roger Yves Bost comes to Aachen as the defending European Champion, but it is perhaps Ireland’s Bertram Allen who is the strongest favorite to take an individual podium finish; he’s fresh off a CSI5* win with the incredible Molly Malone at Dinard just two weeks ago.
It’s Going to be a Long Week
Five rounds of jumping at the 1.50m – 1.60m level over four days will conclude on Sunday, August 23rd. The format is similar that that of the World Equestrian Games, and the schedule is as follows:
August 19th, 14:20CET – First Individual Qualifier. Table C format with faults converted
August 20th, 14:10CET – Second Individual Qualifier. First Team Qualifier. Table A with j/o
August 21st, 16:50CET – Team Final – Table A with j/o. Top 10 teams return
August 23rd, 15:50CET – Individual Final Round 1 – Top 25 riders return
August 23rd, 17:20CET – Individual Final Round 2 – Top 25 riders return
All show jumping horses passed Monday’s vet check at Aachen, where four other disciplines have also been vying for their own European Champion during the past week. This week, show jumping will run concurrently with vaulting and driving.
Beginning on Wednesday, FEItv will live broadcast all rounds of the European Championships. ClipMyHorse and Eurosport will also be broadcasting on livestream and television for those located in Europe.
Follow this link to see the complete list of horses and riders competing at the 2015 European Championships.