France claimed the Junior Individual and Young Rider Team titles at the FEI European Eventing Championships for Juniors and Young Riders on home turf at Jardy (FRA) today. And last year’s silver medallists from Ireland claimed Junior Team gold, while Finland’s Elmo Jankari topped the Young Rider Individual podium.
Nothing was easily won at these 2013 Championships, with appalling weather conditions during yesterday’s cross-country phase testing the skill and resolve of both horses and riders. Heavy rain failed to dampen young ambition however, and despite some late alterations to Pierre Michelet’s cross-country track the event continued to a thrilling finale today.
A total of 88 riders from 21 countries - Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine - were represented in the Junior category, and 17 nations fielded teams.
Germany firmly took the early lead with a team score of 124.40 when Flora Reemtsma (River of Joy), Rebecca-Juana Gerken (Elektra) and Pauline Knorr (Abke’s Boy) filled the top three places after dressage. Great Britain lay in silver medal spot almost 12 points adrift while the Irish were close behind in third ahead of Switzerland in fourth place. But this was never going to be a Championship won in the dressage arena, and things changed radically on cross-country day.
In the Junior category a total of 13 riders parted company with their horses, while seven horse falls were recorded, and 17 horse-and-rider combinations were eliminated over the cross-country track.
It was the Irish who were out in front going into today’s final Jumping phase despite elimination for Joshua Pim (The Irish Minstrel) for a cross-country fall, when Elizabeth Hayden (Miracle), Harold Megahey (Chuckelberry) and Cathal Daniels (Rioghan Rua) all maintained their dressage scores. And the Swiss, despite fielding only three riders in their side, held silver medal spot ahead of the British who had slipped to bronze medal position. Emily King (Mr Hiho) added just 0.4 time penalties across the fixed fences, while Will Furlong (Pioneer Silvie) and Genevieve Clarke (Uchin) went clear, but a stop for Sophie Beatty (Stanley) proved costly yesterday.
And British chances were completely dashed by the elimination of 2012 Individual silver medallists King and Mr Hiho today, when only Furlong and Pioneer Silvie managed to keep a clean sheet for the British side. The French, however, bounced up from overnight fourth to separate the gold-medal-winning Irish from the Swiss in bronze, thanks to a foot-perfect run from Robin Boulanger (Orpheo des Sablons), and single errors from Victor Burtin (Early van ter Nieuwbeke) and Soizic Lefevre (Saga de Mai). Fourth-line French rider Alexis Lavrov (Sultane de la Barbais) withdrew before the Jumping phase.
The Irish completed with a significant 22-point advantage on a final tally of 139.3, with the silver medallists from France on 162.0 and the bronze medallists from Switzerland on 165.6. Belgium finished just outside the medal-zone in fourth ahead of Germany in fifth and Poland in sixth, and the first seven teams all registered just three completion scores per team.
The French had the whip hand when it came to the Individual title however, Robin Boulanger finishing on his dressage mark of 42.5 to pip another 18-year-old, Ireland’s Elizabeth Hayden, by just 0.4 points for the gold. Will Furlong put the British on the third step of the podium with his completion score of 44.2 and Germany’s Anna-Katharina Voge just missed out on a medal placing in fourth (47.3) ahead of Switzerland’s Teresa Stokar in fifth (47.5) while Ireland’s Harold Megahey, Cathal Daniels and Susaannah Berry filled the next three placings.
Junior Team gold and Individual silver medallist, Hayden, talked afterwards about the pressure of going into today’s Jumping phase. “I was second-last to jump and I knew I had a pole or two in hand for the team, but I had no idea what I needed to do to keep in an individual medal. Miracle tried so hard for me. He’s just eight years old and I’ve only had him since March but we’ve gelled really quickly” said the rider from County Kildare who is trained by Ken Mahon, Irish Jumping coach Ian Fearon and Irish Olympic dressage rider Heike Holstein.
While France would take the Young Riders Team title, this competition was dominated by Finland’s Elmo Jankari and Duchess Desiree from the outset. A score of 41.1 from Ground Jury members Nathalie Carriere (FRA), Angela Tucker (GBR), James Rooney (IRL) and Tom Ryckewaert (BEL) put this partnership out in front after Dressage and, despite a pole down in today’s Jumping phase, they couldn’t be caught in the battle for the Individual title.
A total of 56 competitors from 14 countries - Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland - lined out in the Young Riders Championship, and nine countries fielded teams.
The French were lying fourth after the Dressage phase when pathfinder Francois Lemiere (Ogustin du Terroir) produced their best score of 50.20, Arnaud Etienne Ducoin (Obelix de Mai) scored 50.90, Alexis Gomez (Quartz du Lerchenberg) was awarded a mark of 52.40 and Stephane Landois (Klan de Cheyliac) posted 53.00.
Germany held the lead when Carolin Thenhausen (Don Diego) and Christoph Wahler (Printus) both posted 43.70 while Nils Trebbe (Priemus) achieved a mark of 44.60 and Pia Munker, Team and Individual gold medallist at last year's Championships, scored 45.00 with Louise M. The British lay second ahead of The Netherlands in third, but once again the cross-country course would take a heavy toll, with Dutch chances devastated by two retirements and one elimination. In the Young Rider division there were nine rider falls and eight horse falls while two horse-and-rider combinations retired and nine were eliminated on the cross-country course.
Despite a stop for anchor rider Landois, the French were out in front going into today’s final Jumping phase, with the British still in silver medal spot and the Irish suddenly challenging after a meteoric rise from sixth to third despite cross-country elimination for last-line rider Caroline Marwood (Jazzin Along).
And although the remaining three added to their scorelines in the Jumping arena today, the Irish held on for bronze medal position with more than 13 penalty-points of an advantage over Switzerland in fourth place.
The British were also reduced to a three-strong side after Tom Jackson (Waltham Fiddlers Find) took a fall yesterday, but Holly Woodhead (DHI Lupison) Camilla Dumas (Artistiek) and David Doel (Ricoshea) stood firm for silver while the impressive French reigned supreme.
However it was individual French rider, Pierre Touzaint, who came closest to Jankari in the battle for the Individual medals. Lying 14th after dressage with Pin Up de Mai, he rocketed up to second with a superb cross-country run and stayed there. Bronze went to German team member Nils Trebbe who added 7.6 cross-country time penalties to his dressage score for a final tally that left him one point behind Touzaint and a full mark ahead of The Netherlands’ Nienke van Roekel (Bylbao) in fourth place.
Gold medallist Jankari, who turns 21 next month, has enjoyed some excellent recent form with his mare Duchess Desiree, including wins at CIC 2* Furstenau (GER) in July and CIC 3* Sopot (POL) in August. He said “As we saw, it wasn’t just a dressage competition, we had a hard day yesterday. I have an incredible great horse who is always fighting for me. I’m really pleased with her. I had a really nice competition in France”.
Touzaint was also delighted with Individual silver and complimented his support team. “I really appreciated the whole championship, first of all because my horse was really there and we were well prepared with the federal staff. I was quite impressed with my state of mind in the competition. I was really relaxed. Thanks to the team spirit of these past two weeks we were really together, and this was great pleasure” he pointed out.
Bronze medallist Nils Trebbe said “I never expected to win a medal because my horse is only seven years old and it’s my first year as a Young Rider. So hopefully we will be back to take the silver next year!”
Emmanuel Feltesse, President of the Organising Committee, said “I would like to thank all the teams that came from 21 nations and answered our invitation, and the FEI who trusted us by giving us these championships”.
And he praised the competitors. “I would like to thank you, the riders of the teams, for a great moment of sport, beautiful sport and beautiful competition. As an organiser, these Europeans were a great satisfaction. I think the public were really passionate and, even if yesterday wasn’t easy on the weather level, you produced great sport and showed a superb team spirit!”.
FEI European Junior Team Eventing Championship: GOLD - Ireland 139.3: Miracle (Elizabeth Hayden) 42.9, Chuckelberry (Harold Megahey) 47.9, Rioghan Rue (Cathal Daniels) 48.5, The Irish Minstrel (Joshua Pim) Elim; SILVER - France 162.0: Orpheo des Sablons (Robin Boulanger) 42.5, Early van Ter Nieuwbeke (Victor Burtin) 57.3, Saga de Mai (Soizic Lefevre) 62.2; Sultane de la Barbais (Alexis Lavrov) WD; BRONZE - Switzerland 165.6: Glenn Grant 5 (Teresa Stokar) 47.5, Welcome Peramain (Alex Barrelet) 52.7, Wanga V Schloesslihof (Sophie Schiesser) 65.4.
FEI European Junior Individual Eventing Championship: GOLD - Orpheo des Sablons (Robin Boulanger) FRA 42.5; SILVER - Miracle (Elizabeth Hayden) IRL 42.9; BRONZE - Pioneer Silvie (Will Furlong) GBR 44.2.
FEI European Young Riders Team Eventing Championship: GOLD - France 179.5: Quartz du Lerchenberg (Alexis Gomez) 56.8, Ogustin du Terroir (Francois Lemiere) 58.2, Obelix de Mai (Arnaud Etienne Ducoin) 64.5, Klan de Cheyliac (Stephane Landois) 73.0; SILVER - Great Britain 219.4: DHI Lupison (Holly Woodhead) 55.9, Artistiek (Camilla Dumas) 70.5, Ricoshea (David Doel) 93.0, Waltham Fiddlers Find (Tom Jackson) Elim; BRONZE - Ireland 230.0: Fernhill M25 (Michelle Kenny) 70.0, riverstown Express (Melanie Young) 72.9, Red Baron (David Hannigan) 87.1, Jazzin Along (Caroline Marwood) Elim.
FEI European Young Riders Individual Eventing Championship: GOLD - Duchess Desiree (Elmo Jankari) FIN 45.1; SILVER - Pin Up de Mai (Pierre Touzaint) FRA 50.2; BRONZE - Priemus (Nils Trebbe) GER 52.2.