Germany claimed team and individual gold at this weekend’s European Young Riders Eventing Championship held in the Swedish port city of Malmö. The team, the only one to complete with four riders, won in convincing style having led from day one.
Germany's leading rider Pia Münker won individual gold with the seven-year-old Louis M. It was a deserved victory for the pair, who topped the leaderboard after Dressage and stayed in front throughout.
Eight teams contested the Championship which, Germany aside, proved a competition of mixed fortunes. Five nations - Germany, Great Britain, France, The Netherlands and Ireland - fielded full teams while Italy, Poland and Switzerland each had three riders. Thanks to a high scoring test from Münker, the last of their four riders, Germany took the lead after Dressage ahead of Great Britain with France in third.
Rudiger Schwarz’s Cross Country test proved influential, however, and at the end of the day there were five teams left to contest the Jumping, with Germany - despite two of their riders picking up 20 penalties - still out in front. France, the only team to produce four clear Jumping rounds pulled up to second place just 1.1 penalties behind Germany, while Ireland had also jumped up the leaderboard to third.
Despite young British event trailblazer David Doel paving the way with a clear inside the time, it was all over for Great Britain after the remaining three riders faulted. Two of these had trouble at fence 7b, a drop to a 'skinny’, which proved influential throughout the day and resulted in the elimination of five riders and added penalties to the score sheets of another 11. There were however 22 clear rounds, 17 inside the time, from the 38 finishers.
Seven riders were then withdrawn before Jumping. One was France’s second-highest scoring team members Esteban Nedelec and Matin du Neipo, who suffered the same fate at last year’s Championship. This resulted in France dropping to third and Ireland, fifth after Dressage, moving up to second. British team member Evie Paterson was also withdrawn, leaving Germany with the only complete four-member team in the competition.
The tightly-timed Jumping was also influential with just five riders producing rounds without faults. There was also further disappointment for Great Britain when the second of their remaining three riders had two refusals, eliminating the team from the competition. This was the first time since 1998 that Great Britain, gold medallists at this Championship for the last seven years, had not won a team medal.
With the luxury of a discard score and two riders producing clear rounds in the time, Germany pulled further ahead to win the title. “We couldn’t believe that there was such a wonderful course between the city street and the beach,” said German chef d’equipe Mathias Otto-Erley. “The course was unique and impressive and was a real test, and the girls all did brilliantly.”
Germany finished 24.4 penalties ahead of Ireland, scoring their second consecutive team silver thanks to impressive Jumping performances from Katie Nolan (Kilbeg Cool Diamond), who moved 25 places up the leaderboard from 33rd to eighth with a double clear, and Shane Power (TLB Interactive) who improved 20 places on his Dressage score. France took the bronze ahead of Italy, the fourth and last team to complete.
A Leading Performance
Münker and her Rhineland-bred Louis M impressed the ground jury of Christian Landolt (SUI), Sandor Fulop (HUN) and Dr Ernst Topp (GER) to head the Dressage, 2.7 penalties ahead of Elmo Jankari (FIN) and Isabel Djivanovic (GBR).
All three produced clear Cross-Country rounds inside the time meaning these three stayed top of proceedings, but neither Jankari nor Djivanovic lined out for the following day's Jumping, promoting British individual Dani Evans (Raphael II) to second and German individual Charlotte Hachmeister (Kassio 10) to third on the start list, and allowing Münker the luxury of a fence in hand.
With four fences down Hachmeister dropped out of contention and when Evans added four faults to her sheet 19-year-old Münker knew she could have two fences down. She did, but finished inside the time to add just the eight Jumping faults to her score and clinch the Championship gold medal. “For me it was a brilliant weekend,” said Münker. “The horse did a great job and I am so proud of him.”
It was however a narrow victory. Thanks to a brilliant double-clear, Italian Eleonora Bosch (Hotchkiss McManus) climbed the leaderboard from 14th after Dressage to eighth after Cross-Country and into the silver medal position at the finish on her Dressage score of 50.0 and just 0.3 penalties below the winner. Evans collected bronze to add to the team gold she won last year.
Team Championship: GOLD - Germany 169.4: Louis M (Pia Münker) 49.7, Lardina (Jana Weyers) 51.5, Parlando 23 (Franca Lüdecke) 68.2, Havana Club (Maria Kraack) 79.9; SILVER - Ireland 193.8: TLB Interactive (Shane Power) 58.6, Kilbeg Cool Diamond (Katie Nolan) 58.7, Red Baron (David Hannigan) 76.5, Mr Beau Jangles (Jessica Driscoll) 1,000; BRONZE – France 205.3: Obelix de Mai (Arnaud Etienne Ducoin) 58.1, Lilyth du Loup (Camille Geiger) 68.9, Mitou du Mass (Margot Chabanne) 78.3, Matin de Neipo (Esteban Nedelec) 1,000.
Individual Championship: GOLD - Louis M (Pia Müncker-GER) 49.7; SILVER - Hotchkiss McManus (Eleonora Boschi-ITA) 50.0; BRONZE - Raphael II (Dani Evans-GBR) 51.2.
Photo caption: Pia Münker (GER) won individual gold with seven-year-old Louis M at the European Championship for Young Riders in Malmö, Sweden. Image: Lotta Gyllensten.