The team competition of the FEI European Championships in Aachen turned into a duel between the eternal rivals Germany and Italy, and this time the Italian team comprising of Giovanni Masi de Vargas with Dance Little Spook, Francesco Martinotti with Rambo Bo Sun, Edoardo Bernardelli with AT Andrewood and Pierluigi Fabbri with Broadway Jaba, were a length ahead. They claimed goal with a total score of 658 points. Germany (Grischa Ludwig, Volker Schmitt, Elias Ernst and Stephan Rohde) followed closely behind to take silver after scoring just two points less. With a score of 644 points, bronze went to the Netherlands comprising of Olivier Van Den Berg with Footworks X Factor, Jurgen Pouls with Hollywood Gunman, Rieky Young-van Osch with Brady Chex and Anky Van Grunsven with Whizashinigwalla BB.
Volker Schmitt laid a strong foundation for the German team with Smokin Mifillena (owner: Sonja Lubas) after scoring 217. Stephan Rohde and Smarty Diamond (owner: Katharina Völkel) were unlucky and had to accept a no score after the horse scraped itself. This meant that the German team didn't have a scratch result anymore, so it was down to the last two riders. The pressure was enormous, but Elias Ernst stood up to the test with flying colours. He rode USS N Dun It (owner: Christine Wilinski) and performed a wonderful, stylish ride to collect 217.5 points. That made together 434.5 points with just one rider to go... The third rider of the Italian team had already competed at this point in time, so the team was lying in first place on a score of 651 (the first Italian rider in the team classification, Pierluigi Fabbri, scored 214.5. He was followed by Edoardo Bernardelli with his 7-year-old stallion, Andrewood, who scored 217 and finally Francesco Martinotti with the 8-year-old stallion, Rambo Bo Sun owned by Giulia Digiovanni, who was awarded a score of 219.5).
The just 22-year-old Giovanni Masi de Vargas, who already succeeded in claiming FEI European Championships gold at Junior and Young Rider level several times, was the last to ride in the Italian team - with a very strong horse. With Dance Little Spook owned by Quarter Dream, he had saddled a many-time Futurity Champion. The mare knew exactly how to present herself: 221.5 was the result. If Germany wanted to claim gold now, Grischa Ludwig would have to score 224. The many-time German Champion and team European Champion, who came fourth in the World Equestrian Games last year, risked everything with the 8-year-old Shine My Gun, owned by Stephanie Madaus. The result: A dream ride that was rewarded with ecstatic applause from the 2,500 specators and many fans, but unfortunately a small irregularity in the right circles and a short jumping out to the side in a stop meant the end score was 'only' 221.5.
So, Germany took team silver and succeeded in qualifying four riders for the individual final: Grischa Ludwig, Elias Ernst, Volker Schmitt and Oliver Stein, who put in a top-class performance as an individual rider with Timbers Whizzer (owner: Norbert Wilting) and finished on a score of 217.5.
The national trainer, Nico Hörmann, was very pleased with his team: "I don't think the team's performance has ever been as good as this at a European Championships event. Our riders really did a good job, especially when one considers the enormouse pressure we were under after Stephan had to withdraw. Elias Ernst has made huge progress, it was his first FEI start. And Grischa's ride was excellent and now we have four people in the individual final."
The winning team, which has also qualified all four of its riders for the individual final, was overjoyed. "We are competing with a very young team and weren't really sure how things would go," explained Chef d’Equipe Filippo Masi. "We only knew that Germany had got a strong team. But it was simply our day today!"
The Dutch team was equally delighted with its first reining medal at FEI European Championships. Olivier Van den Berg and Jurgen Pouls each also obtained a score of 215 within fine runs. Anky Van Grunsven left the arena on a score of 207, which ultimately proved to be the scratch result. The last team member Rieky Young – Van Osch also risked everything, but in the end it 'only' sufficed for 214 points.
The team from Great Britain (635) finished fourth in the team classification, followed closely by France (634.5). Switzerland came sixth on a score of 631.5, Denmark seventh with 625.5, ahead of Finland with 617 points and Sweden with 614.
The two Austrian individual riders Tina Künstner-Mantl with Nu Chexomatic and Klaus Lechner with Cody Rooster Delmaso also secured themselves a place in the individual finals, namely both riders scored 215.5, as did Francesca Sternberg with Ten Reasons.