There’s a sizzle of excitement at the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg, Sweden ahead of this evening’s official opening ceremony for the Longines FEI European Championships 2017.
Para-Dressage is already well underway, and with the veterinary inspections for Dressage and Jumping now completed another 147 horse-and-rider combinations - 66 in Dressage and 81 in Jumping - are making their final preparations for what promises to be a fantastic week of top sport.
It has already been a testing time for the British whose Dressage team was reduced to three after Gareth Hughes’ Don Carissimo was withdrawn after being held over in yesterday’s first horse inspection. And they’ve got another tense wait because Michael Whitaker’s Jumping contender, Viking, is scheduled for re-inspection at 08.00 tomorrow.
A total of 16 nations - Austria, Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine - will battle it out for the Dressage team medals which will be decided by the Grand Prix which begins tomorrow and finishes on Wednesday. In all, 20 countries will be represented in these Championships as there are also individuals from Belgium, Estonia, Georgia and Norway.
The individual Grand Prix Special will take place on Friday and then the Dressage action concludes with Saturday’s Freestyle. The Netherlands are defending team champions, but all eyes are on the Olympic gold medallists from Germany led by star performers Isabell Werth and Weihegold.
Jumping begins on Wednesday with a Table C (Speed) competition following which each rider’s results are converted into points which are carried through for the remainder of the week. Team medals will be decided over two rounds staged on Thursday and Friday, and then the individual title will be awarded on Sunday, bringing the Longines FEI European Championships 2017 to a close.
A total of 17 nations - Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden and Ukraine - will contest the Jumping team title while 13 individuals from another nine countries - Estonia, Finland, Great Britain, Israel, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Poland, Slovakia and Turkey - are also lining out for the individual honours.
The Netherlands claimed team and individual gold at the 2015 Championships in Aachen, Germany but Team France won Olympic gold last summer and it looks like a wide-open contest for Jumping medals.