he British team was in the lead from day 2 of the P.S.I. FEI European Championship in show jumping – but the fight for medals was captivating and it was not decided until the last rider had jumped the last fence
The 10 best show jumping nations met tonight in the final of the team competition in the P.S.I. FEI European Championship. Before the start of the competition the British team (Ben Maher/Cella, William Funnel/Billy Congo, Michael Whitaker/Viking, Scott Brash/Hello Sanctos) was in the lead with 8.18 faults. Switzerland (Paul Estermann, Pius Schwizer, Janika Sprunger, Steve Guerdat) was second with 8.45 faults and the French team (Kevin Staut, Roger Yves Bost, Patrice Delaveau, Aymeric de Ponnat) had claimed third place with 11.14 faults. Right behind the leading three followed Germany and Sweden.
With such a close run between the top team it was clear that every second and every fault in today’s competition could decide the distribution of medals.
The Swedish team (Jens Fredericson/Lunatic, Angelica Augustsson/Mic Mac du Tillard, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, Henrik von Eckermann/Gotha FRH) had a fantastic day today with only Henrik von Eckermann having one fence down. This gave them a score of 0 faults today, and a total score of 13.44 faults. The last rider for Sweden was the defending European Champion, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and both he and Casall Ask kept their cool over the fences. The score gave the Swedes a good chance for a medal, but it would depend on how the other top teams would do.
The German team (Daniel Deusser/Cornet d’Amour, Carsten-Otto Nagel/Corradina, Christian Ahlmann/Codex One, Ludger Beerbaum/Chiara) also did a total score of 0 today – the only rider with faults was Carsten-Otto Nagel with one fence down and 1 time fault. Thus the German team kept their score of 12.77 faults. Veteran Ludger Beerbaum did the last round for the team and his clear round secured the medal – but it was yet to be decided which kind of medal it would be.
From the French team both Patrice Delaveau and Roger Yves Bost did clear rounds today, and Aymeric de Ponnat had 4 faults today. The last French rider Kevin Staut had two fences down today and 1 time fault, and the French team was pushed down of the podium. The Swiss team did not have their best day today – 4 faults for Pius Schwizer, Paul Estermann and Steve Guerdat, and 1 fault for Janika Sprunger meant that the team fell from second to fifth place.
Scott Brash – the Olympic wonder boy – was last to go for the British team, and he had the pressure on him do a clear round or at least not have more than one pole down if the British team should stay in the lead. And once again Scott and Hello Sanctos delivered. 4 faults and Britain won team gold with an overall score of 12,18 faults. Silver for the Germans and bronze for Sweden. The last time the Brits won a European gold medal was in Rotterdam in 1989.
– Obviously I am highly delighted at this. We had not won a medal for sixty years when we won in London last year, and it has been some time since we won the Europeans. We have made an effort to try and do well at Championships – we have won a few Nations cups over the years but not enough Championships. Germany has been fantastic at championships and we aim to overtake their record at it. It will take some time because they are fantastic so a huge congrats to Germany and to Sweden for a fantastic come-back, said British chef d’equipe Roeb Hoekstra on the press conference.
– I was very fortunate to have a cushion today so I thought I’d make it exciting and have one down, joked Scott Brash on the press conference, and continued; – They all did a fantastic job today, Ben’s horse jumps fantastic, Michael was a bit unlucky but William’s was fantastic.
Individual Ben Maher and Cella is still in front with a clean score sheet, Frenchman Roger Yves Bost and Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois is second with 0.58 faults and Swedish Rolf-Göran Bentgsson and Casall Ask is third with 1.63 faults.
On being the individual leader Ben Maher said: – I’ll tell you on Saturday if I felt more comfortable or not being in the lead here or at the Olympics, it is a long way to go still. The Europeans is a lot more difficult than the Olympics as all rounds count here, it makes a huge difference. I am lucky in the fact that I have an unbelievable horse, and she really is a dream to ride, she has her own style. A lot of riders are good and closing in, there are two more big rounds, I can only try and do my best – if I do two clear rounds I can win, but we will see.
Tomorrow the show jumpers have a day of rest, and Saturday it is time for the individual finale which looks to be just as close a call as today’s team finale.
Source: FEI EU Championship Press