Great Britain claimed team gold along with two of the three individual medals on offer at the FEI European Junior Eventing Championships 2011 at Vale Sabroso in Portugal over the weekend. However the team silver medallists from Germany put up a spirited fight when the side was reduced to just three riders following last-minute injury problems and, leading through the dressage and cross-country phases, they were only pipped at the post in the final jumping test to finish ahead of the bronze medallists from France.
Zoe Brenan took individual gold for Britain riding Latino K while her compatriot, David Doel riding Kings Cross, scooped the bronze when finishing just 0.7 points behind Kevin Seigner and Or du Genet from France who slotted into individual silver spot.
The venue, in the beautiful Alcacer do Sol region, opened its gates to competitors from 15 nations - Italy, Spain, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Great Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, Poland, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland and The Netherlands - with eight countries vying for the team medals and a total of 52 starters.
Held The Lead
The German team of Franziska Dennersmann (Rantan Plan Z), Charlotte Hachmeister (Kassio) and Josephine Wilms (Corvette D) held the lead after the dressage phase, with Ireland in second and Great Britain in third ahead of France. This was a particularly good result for the Irish who do not always shine in the dressage department, but normally tend to come into their own when the jumping phases get underway. However the Irish Juniors have clearly raised their game, and on this occasion Tori Dixon and Shadow Light were sharing third place on the individual leaderboard with Belgium's Valentine Gabriel and Chopin Van'T Kattekwaad going into cross-country day on a score of 45.0. German team member, Wilms, was lying second with a mark of 44.0 while British individual, Emily King, led the way with a mark of 41.9 from Mr Hiho.
Under extreme pressure, the German team held fast during the cross-country phase when the only addition to their scoreline was the 2.8 time penalties collected by Hachmeister. The 23-fence course proved tough enough, with 12 horse-and-rider combinations eliminated. There were seven unseated riders and two horse falls while the remaining three accumulated too many refusals. However a total of 18 returned fault-free while 11 managed to get home with only time penalties to add, and nine picked up single refusals.
Still In Command
Dressage leader, King, was still in command of the individual scoreboard after a foot-perfect run over the solid timber, and Wilms remained in silver medal position when doing likewise. But it was Britain's Zoe Brenan who rose four places to bronze medal spot following her clear cross-country run when Dixon's 20 penalties at fence 11 dropped her right out of individual contention and 3.6 time penalties proved costly for Gabriel who went down to ninth place.
The British team meanwhile rose to challenge the Germans when all four riders - Brenan, Doel, Bethany Stephenson (Family Affaer) and Tom Jackson (Waltham Fiddlers Find) - kept a clean sheet, and less than four marks separated them from the leaders going into the final afternoon. And the French now also loomed large, just 2.5 points further in arrears after Estelle Gaillard (Marquis de Caze Neuve), Pierre Touzaint (Din Up De Mai), Robin Boulanger (Orpheo Des Sablons) and Marie Betrans (Monsegneur Barbotiere) also galloped home clear and inside the time. The Irish had dropped to fourth, and would not recover.
The final jumping phase proved highly influential, with only eight clear rounds from the 37 remaining competitors. And it was two fences on the floor that put paid to King's golden ambitions, while a single mistake proved very costly for Wilms. When Brenan stayed clear, she was promoted to gold medal position ahead of Seignier and Dole who had been lying fourth and fifth. Wilms finished just outside a medal position when her final tally saw her 0.1 behind Doel, and Denmark's Camilla Hansen and Zanzibar lined up fifth.
And when Wilms' team-mates, Dennersmann and Hachmeister, also faulted once, then the British pushed Germany off the top of the team medal podium as Bethany Stephenson completed a hat-trick of British clears. With a final score of 158.7, the French were just five points further behind when claiming the bronze.
Team Championship: GOLD - Great Britain 145.00 - Family Affaer (Bethany Stephenson) 50.2, Latino K (Zoe Brenan)46.9, Waltham Fiddlers Find (Tom jackson) 56.00, Kings Cros (David Doel) 47.9; SILVER - Germany 153.4 - Rantan Plan Z (Franziska Dennersmann) 52.1, Kassio (Charlotte Hackmeister) 53.3, Corvette D (Jesephine Wilms) 48.00; BRONZE - France 158.7 - Marquis de Caze Neuve (Estelle Gaillard) 55.3, Di Up de Mai (Pierre Touzaint) 53.6, orpheo des Sablons (Robin Boulanger) 49.8, Monsegneur Barbotiere (Marie Betrand) 61.1.
Individual Championship: GOLD - Latino K (Zoe Brenan) GBR 46.9; SILVER - Or du Genet (Kevin Seignier) FRA 47.1; BRONZE - Kings Cross (David Doel) GBR 47.9.
For further information on the FEI European Junior Eventing Championships 2011 go to http://goo.gl/Kzczh
Photo Caption: The proud trio of individual medallists on the podium at the FEI European Junior Eventing Championships 2011 in Vale Sabroso, Portugal yesterday - L to R - Kevin Seignier from France (Silver), Great Britain's Zoe Brenan (Gold) and David Doel, also from Great Britain (Bronze). Photo: FEI/Michael Steiger.