Germany’s Sabrina Arnold (37) claimed her first major individual Championship win as she and Tarzibus were crowned FEI European Endurance Champions 2017 in Brussels (BEL) today, but it was the Spanish that took team gold when their top finishers claimed individual silver and bronze.
The German pair, who are based near Marseilles, led from the first loop and completed the 160-kilometre course in a time of 7.14.52, with an average speed of 22kph. The 10-year-old gelding was praised throughout for his fast recovery times and the pair finished more than 15 minutes ahead of their closest rivals. A prominent competitor on the international circuit, Arnold won last year’s FEI European Endurance Championships for Young Horses in Negrepelisse (FRA) with the seven-year-old Tsagan Nour.
Spain’s Alex Luque Moral and Calandria PH took individual silver ahead of compatriot Angel Soy Coll with Tonik de Becherel in bronze. Omar Blanco Rodrigo and Selif de la Nie finished fourth and out of the individual medals, but their placing meant the Spanish successfully retained their 2015 team title. Celebrations at this evening’s medal ceremony were muted, however, with a minute’s silence held for victims of the Barcelona terrorist attack.
“I’m really thrilled to have won today. My horse has a naturally fast recovery rate and he was incredible. I won the young horse championships last year and I’m hoping to do the same thing again in two days’ time!” Newly-crowned FEI European Endurance Champion Sabrina Arnold (GER)
Luque Morale, individual silver medallist at last year’s world championships in Šamorín, contested right from the start in Brussels, moving up to second on the fourth loop when world champion and fellow countryman Jaume Punti Dachs’ ride Twyst Maison Blanche was eliminated. Soy Coll completed the first two loops in seventh place before working his way up the leaderboard to take the third step on the podium.
The Italians took team silver, with Sweden in bronze, their first team Endurance medal for 17 years. Both France and the Netherlands, silver and bronze medallists in 2015, failed to record a team score.
Set in the heart of the ancient 4,421-hectare Sonian Forest in Brussels, recently designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Pierre Arnould’s course saw 68 athletes and horses representing 20 countries across Europe set off at dawn to start the 160k challenge. The course consisted of five loops which featured the undulating terrain and sand tracks twisting through ancient beech and oak trees, some of which are up to 200 years old.
A total of 33 combinations finished, representing a completion rate of just under 50%.