German Junior Eventers Sweep To Victory
German Junior Eventers Sweep To Victory- German youngsters continued their extraordinary run of form through the 2010 sub-senior FEI Championship calendar as the Junior squad claimed the team title as well as individual gold and silver at the FEI Junior European Eventing Championships in Bad Segeberg at the weekend.
In command from the outset, the winning team completed 15 points clear of the silver medallists from France, while Italy claimed bronze ahead of Ireland. And in the individual rankings the formidable strength of the German challenge was set in stone as the home runners filled five of the top six placings.
A total of 74 competitors from 16 nations lined out at the German venue from 19 to 22 August, and 2009 bronze medallist, Celina Nothofer, demonstrated her determination to improve on her result of 12 months earlier when stamping her authority on the dressage arena with the leading score of 35.20. However time penalties on the cross-country course would rob her of the ultimate accolade and she had to settle for silver as team-member Alina Meister, lying second after dressage, overtook her when adding nothing to her first-phase score of 39.00. Individual bronze went to Tim Rogers, the only member of the British team to escape penalty on cross-country day.
A Bit Surprised
German Chef d'Equipe Mathias Otto-Erley declared himself "a bit surprised" by his side's superb results "because our top three combinations were not fit to compete including Celina Nothofer's bronze medal winning horse from last year". Over a weekend when family-bred horses excelled however, Nothofer brought out the half-sister to her 2009 ride to show that last year's result was no fluke.
With Alina Meister (Hill Dream) in second, Dustin Albrecht (Locsley) in third and Josephine Wilms (Corvette D) in 16th place, the Germans went into cross-country day with confidence. Final team member Ben Leuwer (Cappuccino) was lying 62nd at this stage but was one of only four to remain on his dressage score for the remainder of the weekend. The cross-country track set by well-known German designer Burkard Beck-Broichsitter proved plenty testing, and one of the most influential obstacles came early, at the flower-fence combination located on the rise at fence four where downhill impulsion proved the undoing of many. All four of the German team stayed clear to solidify their position however, but a strong performance from the French, when Chloe Deschamps (Mimosa de la Fieffe), Esteban Nedelec (Matin du Neipo) and Julie Jalaguier (Nabeul de Soulac) all returned without penalty and Estelle Gaillard (Marquis de Caeneuve) collected just two time faults, ensured they would have to stay sharp on the final afternoon.
And the jumping track was no walk in the park either. As the German Chef d'Equipe pointed out afterwards, "you had to find a rhythm and stay with it, if you weren't moving forward all the time you would quickly lose your chance. The arena was big, so there was always a danger of taking too long to get from fence to fence and therefore running up time faults" he explained. Wilms collected two of those while Albrecht collected a total of eight faults, but this presented no great danger to German chances as they breezed home to take gold, while France took silver and the Italian side of Martina Camilla Crippa (Jenga), Francesca Malaspina (Cancun), Umberto Riva (Milady de la Loge) and Francesca Banchelli (Joker d'Helby) secured bronze.
And with one of those precious jumping clears - there were only nine, and in the final analysis Germany had two of them - then Meister and her 15 year old Anglo Arab horse, Hill Dream, jumped to individual glory. "I can hardly believe it - I never imagined that this would happen!" said the delighted 18 year old who lives just 20 minutes away from the venue at Bad Segeberg. "I was in the German gold medal winning team in 2009 but I was eliminated in the cross-country so I was worried about being on the team this time because I didn't want to put pressure on my colleagues like I did last year at Waregem!" she said.
Silver medallist Celine Nothofer, who will turn 18 later this month, is the daughter of Theo Nothofer whose scoring system will be in joint-operation during the forthcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, and was well-pleased with the result of her latest ride, Simba. And like his German counterpart, Great Britain's bronze medallist Tim Rogers was also riding a home-bred horse, the 11 year old Corrieview Owen. The British duo's single mistake in the final phase left them on level-pegging with German individual rider Lara Adelheim (Gentano) on a score of 46.30. But Rogers, who is based with British senior team member Lucy Wiegersma in England, got the nod over Adelheim who, in one of the hard-luck stories of the weekend, was denied a medal on her championship debut when further adrift of the optimum cross-country time.
Mr Beck-Broichsitter declared himself pleased with the way his cross-country course jumped. "My aim was to get as many teams and riders home as possible and only six were eliminated in the cross-country phase from 74 starters - I'm very happy with that" he pointed out. And FEI Representative, Dr Hanfried Haring, complimented the Organising Committee "for a well-planned, well-organised and very friendly event".
Full results at http://www.eecj.de/2010/
Photo Caption: The individual medal winners at the 2010 FEI Junior European Eventing Championships at Bad Segeberg, Germany - (L to R) : Silver medallist Celina Nothofer (GER), gold medallist Alina Meister (GER) and bronze medallist Tim Rogers (GBR).