Romania's Milashkon Bogdan claimed individual gold at the 2011 FEI Balkan Eventing Championships in Shumen, Bulgaria last Sunday. The host nation's Iliyan Iskarov slotted into silver medal position ahead of fellow-countryman Veselin Petrov in bronze while the only other finisher, Bulgaria's Svetlin Ivanov, was fourth - thus ensuring a clear-cut victory for Bulgaria in the team championship.
A total of eight horse-and-rider partnerships started the competition, and it was Romania's Viorel Bubau and the seven year old chestnut mare, Arctic, who held the lead after dressage when producing a test that earned 53.94 from the Ground Jury that consisted of Germany's Carl Heinz Boess (President), Katherina Luchechi (ITA), Yuri Valev (BUL) and Peter Eck (BUL).
Bogdan and his 10 year old Westphalian mare, Lady Kera, were close behind on a score of 53.91 in second place however, so when the leader, and third-placed Ozhan Sezer (Pinar) from Turkey, were eliminated on cross-country day then the score-board changed dramatically.
The cross-country course ran through the spectacular woodlands of the Kablushka Forest on the outskirts of the town of Shumen which is home to the world-famous Madara Horseman - a rock relief that dates back to around 710 AD and which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979 - and it was tough enough to remove half of the starting field.
Romania's Silviu Iclanzan (Aramis) and Turkey's Simge Ozaltindere (Zambo) - lying sixth and eighth respectively after dressage - also failed to complete the cross-country phase. Not one of the competitors got home inside the time-allowed of 7.04.00, and although Bogdan added 9.60 time penalties he was still out in front, now on a score of 63.51, going into the final morning. Iskarov had risen from fourth to second place at this stage despite collecting 18.80 time faults over the sold timber with his seven year old mare, Karlchtat, while Petrov was in third despite a stop from his 10 year old horse Adler.
Ivanov made no mistakes with his mare Mig, but their slow tour of the track saw them collect a massive 39.20 time penalties and left them well in arrears of the leading bunch going into the deciding jumping round on Sunday.
Used Up His Luck
Bogdan had more than a 10-point lead as the jumping phase began, but he used up most of his luck when leaving two fences on the floor. A total of 12 penalties from Iskarov however let him off the hook, and although Petrov and Ivanov each knocked only a single fence in the final phase the placings remained unchanged, with Bogdan assured of the individual title and the three Bulgarians clinching team gold.
Ivanov had some compensation when winning the accompanying CCI 2-Star competition riding Nazir, while the CCI 1-Star honours went to Turkey's Dogan Deniz and Antalya.
The FEI Balkan Eventing Championship, which was attended by Bulgarian Minister for Sport, Svilen Nelkov, and which drew big crowds and great media interest for the sunny cross-country day, was staged by the Bulgarian National Federation. And the record books show that the 2011 result continues the pattern that has established itself since the sport of Eventing joined Dressage and Jumping as a Championship fixture in the region back in 1968, with Bulgaria, winners of the team title in seven of the 13 events staged between 1968 and 2005, once again dominating the team medal podium.
Result: FEI Balkan Eventing Championships 2011
Individual: Gold - Lady Kera (Milascon Bogdan) RO 71.91; Silver - Karlchtat (Ilian Iskarov) BG 82.89; Bronze - Adler (Veselin Petrov) BG 97.86.
Team: Gold - Bulgaria - Karlchtat (Ilian Iskarov), Adler (Veselin Petrov), Mig (Svetlin Ivanov).
Full results at http://www.horsesportbg.org/
Photo Caption: Pictured during the awards ceremony for the 2011 FEI Balkan Eventing Championships at Shumen in Bulgaria last Sunday (15 May 2011): (L to R) the gold medal winning Bulgarian team of Veselin Petrov, Svetlin Ivanov and Illyan Iskarov with (on right) newly-crowned Individual Balkan Eventing Champion Milashcon Bogdan from Romania.