Category Archives: FEI

Canadians Clinch Pole Position in First Qualifier

Yann Candele and Theodore Mancaias (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Team Canada posted the only zero score in the first qualifier to claim pole position going into the title-decider at the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona (ESP). On a day of high drama, The Netherlands, USA, France and Germany were next in line when they all finished with four faults, while Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland claimed the last three qualifying places with eight faults apiece.

Team Ireland also finished with eight, but their slower combined times saw the country that claimed team gold at the Longines FEI European Championships in Gothenburg (SWE) four weeks ago line up ninth, and just outside the qualification zone.

As the last side of 15 into the arena, the Canadians had the best of the draw and Yann Candele (46) got them off to a flying start with a clear round riding Theodore Manciais. Another from Tiffany Foster (33) with Tripple X was followed by eight faults for Chris Pratt (48) and Concorde. But with the best three scores to count, it was 2008 Olympic champion Eric Lamaze (49) who wrapped it up with a fault-free effort from Coco Bongo.

Canadian Chef d’Equipe, Mark Laskin, admitted however that he wasn’t entirely confident about how things might play out. And he was more than pleasantly surprised with Candele’s opening effort.

“We had a couple of question marks, a couple of unknowns – some of our horses and riders were not available to come. And Yann Candele, that was only the third time he’s ever ridden that horse, that was the first course he jumped with it, and this is the Nations Cup Final in Barcelona! With Yann I always said I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a couple of rails down, so to come through like that as first rider, it really gave us a spark!” — Mark Laskin (Team Canada)

Candele has his own way of going about things, as his team manager explained.

“He’s been traditionally our lead-off rider because he doesn’t count strides, he just adjusts; he improvises. Even after he went into the ring he did some numbers (of strides) that we weren’t planning, and Eric Lamaze said to me, ‘Why do we even walk the course with him? He might as well just go in and wing it!’” — Mark Laskin (Team Canada)

It seemed that the French would also share a zero score, but last-line rider Roger Yves Bost was disqualified for using hind boots on his horse that weren’t in accordance FEI regulations. But the 2016 Olympic team gold medallist and 2013 European champion will still be part of the French side on Saturday night as that is a separate competition.

Brazil, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and the United Arab Emirates will line out for the honours in the Longines Challenge Cup which is always guaranteed to be a thriller. But for the Canadians, and the seven other qualified nations, it’s all about lifting that very special Longines FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping trophy the following night.

Mark Laskin is hopeful for Canada in the Final, but he’s not prepared to anticipate too much. He said:

“Anything can happen once you get to the dance! We don’t get ahead of ourselves; there are clichés for a reason because it’s a good way to think: one step at a time, one round at a time; we’ll see what happens.” — Mark Laskin (Team Canada)

Mark Laskin – Team Canada, talking about his team’s chances of winning the Longines FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping title: “I’m very happy we qualified; in fact definitely ecstatic! We’ll be there on Saturday night; we are fighters!”

Lauren Hough – Team USA, talking about the course: “This is a fantastic course builder (Santiago Varela). That triple at the end is quite fearsome, but I think it is very jumpable.”

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Ryan Sees Plenty of “Blue” with Longines Win in New York

Devin Ryan and Eddie Blue (FEI/Rebecca Berry)

Devin Ryan entered the jump-off for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping New York with an eight-year-old rookie and left with a World Cup qualifier Champion.

Devin Ryan (USA) and LL Show Jumper’s Eddie Blue topped a five horse jump off at Old Salem Farm (NY) to claim the blue ribbon and the first World Cup qualifier victory of their respective careers. They did so by defeating reigning World Cup Final Champion McLain Ward (USA) and new mount HH Callas, the only other pair to put forth a double clear performance on the day. Jack Towell (USA) and Lucifer V finished third.

“I knew going into it that I had a great horse, and I knew that there was a great field out there. I was the least experienced of the jump-off riders out there, and I’ve been watching them all year. I went out there and rode my plan.” — Devin Ryan (USA)

Ryan began the North American League at Bromont aboard the 10-year-old Cooper, but he saw New York as the ideal place to test his younger mount in tougher waters, a decision for which he was rewarded. Eddie Blue excelled over the testing track set by course designer Alan Wade (IRL); less than 13 percent of the 39 competitors advanced to the shortened course.

“I’ve slowly brought him along throughout the season and used him as second horse in ranking classes,” Ryan explained. “I built him up, and he’s been going so strong. A field like this suits him with his brig stride and big scope, and it gives us time to organize. The field fits the horse, and I thought it was a great place to step up and see what he brought.”

Ryan plans to compete in the next World Cup qualifier on the east coast sub league, which will take place in Washington, D.C. (USA) on Saturday 28 October 2017. The Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League resumes with the west coast sub league at Sacramento (USA) on Saturday 7 October 2017.

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

French Stand Firm to Win Last Qualifier in Gijon

Photo: Nicolas Delmotte and Ilex VP. (FEI/Xurde Margaride)

Team France won the last qualifying leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2017 Europe Division 2 series in Gijon, Spain where, in a roller-coaster of a competition, The Netherlands finished second ahead of Ireland in third.

The French were already out in front on a zero score at the halfway stage, but were being closely chased by Canada carrying just a single time fault. However, the course designed by Spain’s Avelino Rodriguez-Miravalles saw some serious shuffling of the pack as the second round progressed. And the Dutch, lying joint-third with Spain and Mexico, and Irish who were in joint-sixth with Great Britain, were rewarded for holding their ground while those around them lost theirs.

When Kevin Staut (36) and For Joy van’t Zorgvliet HDC hit the middle element of the triple combination three fences from home and Gregory Cottard (39) and Regate d’Aure lowered the bogey final fence to also collect four faults second time out, then it fell to French anchorman Nicolas Delmotte (39) and Ilex VP to save the day as the best three scores per team would be counted and his side was now carrying four faults. Edward Levy (23) and the fabulous stallion Sirius Black had followed up their single first-round error with a great clear, but only the same from Delmotte would prevent a jump-off against the Dutch who, like the Irish, were fault-free at their second attempt.

“Being last to go I felt the responsibility, but I had confidence, and I had a horse that responded brilliantly!” — Nicolas Delmotte (Team France)

One mistake and France would be on level pegging with The Netherlands on eight faults and forced into a jump-off. Any more than that and victory would be lost. But Delmotte held his nerve to bring Ilex home with a classic clear when posting one of four double-clear rounds on the day.

Ireland lined up third on their first-round total of 12 faults and the Canadians, hampered by second-round elimination for Jaclyn Duff and Eh All or None who had collected just a single time fault in the first round, had to settle for fourth place with 13 faults on the scoreboard. Great Britain (20 faults) finished fifth, Mexico (24 faults) lined up sixth, Germany (28 faults) finished seventh and the host nation (29 faults) finished eighth. Team Egypt collected 18 faults in the first round so didn’t make the cut into round two.

French Chef d’Equipe, Philippe Guerdat, was delighted with his country’s eleventh FEI Nations Cup™ success at the famous Las Mestas Arena in Gijon. “This is a lucky venue for us!” he said.

Kevin Staut FRA (winning team): “I am very happy – this is my second Nations Cup win in this city!”

Shane Breen IRL (3rd placed team), talking about the bogey fences: “Fence eight was like a gate, a stile type fence and it was narrow. There was a roll-back up to it and some lost a bit of balance on the turn and found they didn’t have the space to jump it. It was very light and short and it looked quite tall. The last fence came after the triple bar and there was a floaty six strides to it. It was cleverly designed with a white plank at the bottom and on the top, and some horses slightly misjudged it.”

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Oliver Townend Takes His Second Burghley Title with Ballaghmor Class

Photo: Oliver Townend riding Ballaghmor Class. (FEI/lLibby Law)

British fill first four places while Michael Jung (GER) easily secures his second FEI Classics™ title

Oliver Townend (GBR) kept his head in a tense final jumping round at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, last leg of the FEI Classics™, to score his first CCI4* victory for eight years and head a British sweep of the top four places.

He overcame a nerve-racking moment when the 10-year-old Irish Sports Horse Ballaghmor Class crashed through the upright gate but, fortunately for him, the previous pair in the arena, Gemma Tattersall (GBR) and Arctic Soul had given him breathing space when they had a fence down.

“This is very, very special. Such a lot can go wrong with a young horse – and he’s only just learned to do flying changes – but he’s in a different class to anything else I’ve ridden recently.” — Oliver Townend (GBR), Burghley winner

Tattersall finished third, slipping one place behind Piggy French (GBR), who jumped clear on the mare Vanir Kamira to move up from fifth after cross country to the runner-up slot. It was a particularly triumphant return for French, who has taken a year off from the sport to have a baby.

“Our jumping round wasn’t that pretty, but who cares? Burghley is the toughest four-star in the world and to do well here is a dream!” — Piggy French (GBR), runner-up

Tom McEwen (GBR) riding Toledo de Kerser rose three places to fourth, a career best, with a beautifully judged clear round and Kristina Cook (GBR), one of the British gold medal team at last month’s FEI European Championships in Strzegom, moved up from 10th to seventh on Star Witness.

Richard Jeffry’s track produced seven clear rounds from the 40 finishers, two of which were with time faults.

New Zealander Tim Price was the highest-placed non-British rider, in fifth on Ringwood Sky Boy. America’s Lynn Symansky was sixth on Donner and Andrew Nicholson (NZL) and the gallant 17-year-old Nereo were eighth with two rails down.

FEI Classics™

Although Michael Jung had retired across country after a rare mistake with La Biosthetique Sam, the German still secured the top prize in the FEI Classics™ following a win at Kentucky and second places at Pau and Badminton.

French rider Maxime Livio, who was not competing at Burghley, remained in second place, counting a win at Pau and a second at Kentucky, and Nicola Wilson (GBR) remained in third with a fourth place at Pau and a second at Lühmuhlen.

“It’s been a brilliant season,” summed up the FEI’s Catrin Norinder, head of the Eventing and Olympic department. “All six events have been thrilling and we’ve seen some fantastic performances from athletes and horses who have portrayed our sport in the very best light.”

By Kate Green

Press contacts:

At FEI:

Leanne Williams
Media Relations and Communications Manager
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

At Burghley:

Carole Pendle
Press Officer
Carole.pendle@caa.com
+44 7768 462601

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class Head a British Trio at Burghley after Cross Country

Photo: Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class. (FEI/Libby Law)

Oliver Townend (GBR), very last out on the cross country at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, sixth and final leg of the FEI Classics™, produced a superb display of horsemanship on the inexperienced Ballaghmor Class to head a British one-two-three.

Townend, 31, won Badminton and Burghley in 2009 and is the British number one, but has struggled to find a consistently top horse since then. However, the Irish-bred 10-year-old by Courage galloped and jumped easily and looks a star for the future, finishing on a score of 40.6.

“Ballaghmor Class was wild as youngster – everyone’s had a go at falling off him – and he has done lots of things he shouldn’t, but then so have I!” — Oliver Townend (GBR), cross-country leader

Fellow Briton Gemma Tattersall held the lead for most of the day on the ex-racehorse Arctic Soul with one of only three rounds inside the time and she is within a rail of Townend going into the final jumping phase with 43.0 penalties.

“Arctic Soul felt strong and feisty, which was not helped by my having a cold, but we have an amazing partnership.” — Gemma Tattersall (GBR), second after cross-country

Izzy Taylor (GBR), whose great-aunt Anneli Drummond-Hay (GBR) won the first Burghley in 1961, is in third place on a new ride, Trevidden, by the great eventing sire Fleetwater Opposition, on 45.6.

“It was one of those rides when you’re having such a great time that you have to remind yourself to concentrate!” — Izzy Taylor (GBR), third after cross-country

A huge crowd enjoyed perfect sunshine and thrilling sport with 29 clear rounds and plenty of excitement right until the very end on Mark Phillips’s cleverly designed track.

As the Brits surged up the leaderboard – Piggy French (Vanir Kamira), Tom McEwen (Toledo de Kerser) and pathfinder Kristina Cook (Star Witness) are fifth, seventh and 10th – there were some unexpected mishaps for senior riders.

Dressage leader Sir Mark Todd (NZL) was up on the clock with Leonidas II when he fell off on landing over the brush at the Discovery Valley (fence 26) and third-placed Michael Jung (GER) and La Biosthetique Sam made the first mistake of their championship career with a runout at a skinny brush in the Trout Hatchery and subsequently retired.

Kristina Cook, fifth on Calvino ll, was held on course in front of the Discovery Valley and perhaps lost concentration as she had a frustrating runout and dropped to 18th place.

Andrew Nicholson (NZL) had a fall with first ride Qwanza at the new Storm Doris fence – angled logs from a tree which fell in the February storm – but is in sixth with 7.6 time penalties on his Badminton winner Nereo.

In an international line-up, Tim Price (NZL) is fourth on Ringwood Sky Boy, by the same sire as Ballaghmor Class, US athletes Lynne Symansky (Donner) and Boyd Martin (Steady Eddie) are eighth and ninth and dressage runner-up Lauren Kieffer (Veronica, USA) is 13th with 28 time penalties.

Follow all the action with live results on www.burghley-horse.co.uk.

By Kate Green

Press contacts:

At FEI:

Leanne Williams
Media Relations and Communications Manager
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

At Burghley:

Carole Pendle
Press Officer
Carole.pendle@caa.com
+44 7768 462601

Legendary Todd and Leonidas II Take Over Dressage Lead at Burghley

Photo: Sir Mark Todd and Leonidas II. (FEI/Libby Law)

Dressage day two influential as Sir Mark Todd (NZL) leads from USA’s Lauren Kieffer and Michael Jung (GER)

Nearly 40 years after the legendary Sir Mark Todd (NZL) first rode at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR) he is in the lead after dressage with Leonidas II on a mark of 36.7. In a star-studded line-up, the double Olympic champion heads the USA’s Lauren Kieffer on Veronica II by just 0.3 of a penalty, with world number one and FEI Classics™ leader Michael Jung now in third on La Biosthetique Sam.

The tall, lean New Zealander, 61, who last triumphed at Burghley in 1999, made an elegant picture on the German-bred 13-year-old, the bay gelding remaining obedient yet lively and light in his paces as well as beautifully supple.

“I may have won Burghley five times, but I haven’t won it this century! Finally, this horse is starting to grow up. When I got him as a six-year-old he was so impetuous, but now he knows what he’s meant to do and I’ve got every confidence in him.” — Sir Mark Todd (NZL), overnight leader going into cross country

Kieffer and the mare Veronica have a second place at Kentucky 2016 and 17th at Badminton this year under their belt, but it is their first visit to Burghley.

“Most of the American riders are sitting on thoroughbreds, so we’re pretty happy about tomorrow’s cross-country, but Burghley is something that’s in a class of its own and we have all studied it pretty carefully.” — Lauren Kieffer (USA), second after dressage

Two more senior riders, Andrew Nicholson (NZL), 55, on Nereo and Britain’s Kristina Cook, 46, on Calvino II, scored under 40 penalties and are in close contention in fourth and fifth places. Nicholson, currently fourth in the FEI Classics™, has also won Burghley five times, although never on the 17-year-old Nereo, his winning mount at Badminton this year.

Cook, a multiple winner of team medals, including at the recent FEI European Championships in Poland, is renowned for her skill as a cross-country rider but has never won a CCI4*, and her mark of 39.6 may give her the best chance yet.

“I don’t really do dressage in the 30s! So I’ll be going for it tomorrow. Calvino is only small-framed but he has the heart of a lion.” — Kristina Cook, fifth after dressage and highest-placed of the home side

Cook will be first out on the cross-country course on Star Witness, currently 40th after dressage.

Follow all the action with live results on www.burghley-horse.co.uk.

By Kate Green

Press contacts:

At FEI:

Leanne Williams
Media Relations and Communications Manager
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

At Burghley:

Carole Pendle
Press Officer
Carole.pendle@caa.com
+44 7768 462601

Michael Jung Tops Dressage after Day One at Burghley

Photo: Michael Jung with La Biosthetique Sam FBW. (FEI/Libby Law)

GBR’s Gemma Tattersall in overnight second with Arctic Soul and Mackenna Shea (USA) third on Landioso

World number one Michael Jung (GER) has yet again set the target with a beautifully ridden dressage test on his old friend La Biosthetique Sam, now 17, to take an early lead at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials, sixth and final leg of the 2016/2017 FEI Classics™.

The double Olympic champions, winners here in 2015 and current FEI Classics™ series leader, impressed the ground jury — Martin Plewa (president, GER), Katarzyna Konarski (POL) and Harry Payne (GBR) — to earn the only sub-40 mark of the day, 38.9 penalties, and lead over British national champions Gemma Tattersall and the former racehorse Arctic Soul by 4.1 penalties.

“Sam is on good form. You have to be 100% perfect in all es to win and this was not our best dressage performance, but I think the cross-country is tough enough to change the result.” — Michael Jung (GER), first-day dressage leader

Tattersall, fifth individually at the FEI European Championships in Poland recently, has worked hard at containing the sensitive thoroughbred Arctic Soul in the dressage. This represents a considerable improvement on their mark of 55.8 at Badminton when brilliant performances in the jumping phases elevated them a remarkable 60 places to eventual seventh.

“I’m chuffed to bits. Arctic Soul is very shy, so the key is getting him to feel confident, rideable and relaxed. Today he allowed me to place him so that all his movements were correct.” — Gemma Tattersall (GBR), second after dressage

American rider Mackenna Shea, 24, has made a great start to her first run at Burghley and is in third place on a score of 46.1 on Landioso, a 15-year-old Dutch-bred gelding that she has produced since he was four. Shea has based herself this summer with British rider Rodney Powell, but their campaign started late due to Landioso suffering from shipping fever.

“‘I didn’t realise what a big step Burghley would be after Kentucky. Just walking the course takes so long!” — Burghley first-timer Mackenna Shea (USA), third after dressage

Jung may have an unassailable lead in the FEI Classics™ — his nearest rival, Maxime Livio (FRA) is not competing — but has he left the door open in the dressage for Burghley honours?

A host of stars could challenge for the lead. These include Zara Tindall (GBR) and High Kingdom, the pair that finished third behind Jung (on fischerRocana) at Kentucky (USA) in April, and American rider Lauren Kieffer on the lovely mare Veronica.

A quartet of New Zealanders is also likely to feature at the top of the leaderboard: Badminton winners Andrew Nicholson on Nereo, five-time Burghley winner Sir Mark Todd on Leonidas ll, 2010 winner Caroline Powell with Onwards and Upwards, and Tim Price (Ringwood Sky Boy).

Nicola Wilson (GBR), currently third in the FEI Classics™, does not have a Burghley ride and looks vulnerable to being overtaken in the series by the likes of Nicholson, fourth on the leaderboard, Price, eighth, and Tindall, ninth, all three holding obvious chances to take the prize money on offer for third.

By Kate Green

Press contacts:

At FEI:

Leanne Williams
Media Relations and Communications Manager
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

At Burghley:

Carole Pendle
Press Officer
Carole.pendle@caa.com
+44 7768 462601

Swail Sweeps Up a Longines Win at Langley

Photo: Conor Swail and Flower (FEI/Rebecca Berry)

Ireland’s Conor Swail and Flower did nothing but win at the Thunderbird Show Park, as the pair completed the sweep by topping the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Langley, kicking off the west coast sub league of the series.

Although declared for the east coast sub league, Swail arrived on the west coast, hungry for valuable ranking points, and the Irish rider came away with the lion’s share of those by proving fastest in a seven-horse jump-off designed by fellow Irishman Alan Wade. Christopher Surbey (CAN) and new mount Daylight VDL finished second, and Jamie Barge (USA) and Luebbo were third. Earlier in the week, Swail and his 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare also won the Maui Jim Welcome Stake and the Steel-Craft Door Products Cup.

“I just continued with the same process that we came here with. It was working very well, so there was no need to try to change too much. My mare was absolutely outstanding, and it was really good to finish it off with the win.” — Conor Swail (IRL)

Last to go in the jump-off, Swail had only Surbey to catch, and a loose gallop up the first three fences left him with room to spare down the final line. Swail and Flower ended up comfortable winners; they were nearly four seconds faster that the runners up.

“I knew the time was easily attainable,” Swail explained. “[Flower] is very good at running and jumping, so I let her run and jump the first few jumps. I didn’t take any major risks and just knew that, with the way she was jumping, she would leave the jumps up as long as I didn’t make any mistakes.”

The North American League continues with a return to the east, with the qualifier in North Salem (NY) on Sunday 17 September 2017.

Conor Swail (IRL): “It’s an early relationship that I have with [Flower]. She is a little unique. She can be quite difficult to ride at times. She’s very spooky and can see stuff that’s not there. She has an extremely funny character, but when she goes into the ring, she’s not spooky at all. She’s dead brave and very careful. I’ve been trying to level out all those situations and make her trust me as much as we can. It’s getting much more consistent. We’ve won a lot since I got her in early January. I feel now that I’m starting to get all the pieces in the right places consistently.”

Christopher Surbey (CAN): “For me, my horse is not as naturally quick as Conor’s horse. He has a really big stride, but he’s a bit slower moving. I had a plan where I could leave stride out here or there. I don’t have much experience with this particular horse. My goal was to be clear and as quick as I could, but I left a lot on the table.”

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Fairytale Finish as Sweden’s Fredricson Wins Jumping Title

Photo: Peder Fredricson and H&M All In. (FEI/Richard Juillart)

Dutchman Smolders rockets up to silver medal spot; Ireland’s O’Connor adds bronze to team gold

It was a dream come true for all of Sweden as Peder Fredricson (45) and H&M All In claimed individual Jumping gold in front of Her Royal Highness Queen Silvia and over 15,000 noisy fans at Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg (SWE) to bring the Longines FEI European Championships 2017 to an emotional end.

Leading from the outset last Wednesday, the pressure was immense on the man who took individual silver with his brilliant gelding at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. But he held his nerve over two thrilling rounds that had spectators on the edges of their seats to finish just ahead of The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders (37), while Ireland’s Cian O’Connor (37) claimed the bronze.

A clear first round again ensured that the host nation hero would be feeling the maximum weight of expectation as he brought this fabulous week of top sport to a close when last to go. But Fredricson could handle it.

“Like any athlete you are not enjoying the pressure but you just have to be comfortable with it and try to not let it get to you. Focus on what you should do and focus on your horse and your team, and try to make all the preparations right and deliver on the day and not start thinking about other things. I’m really happy I could give my horse this gold medal!” — Peder Fredricson SWE

Carrying just 2.25 points, O’Connor, who helped Ireland to team gold on Friday night, was his biggest threat as the last round began, while Smolders had rocketed up from ninth to lie third with 5.52 points after producing one of eight first-round clears. And over the final 10-fence course that included a massive 1.80m-wide oxer three from home, and a really testing penultimate treble, Smolders and Don VHP Z stayed clear yet again.

Second-last to go, O’Connor’s single mistake allowed the Dutchman to edge ahead of him, so Smolders was now the man that Fredricson had to beat. He had a fence in hand as he set off, but there was a gasp of horror when All In hit the middle element of the triple combination. Fredricson didn’t flinch, however, adding only one further time penalty to finish on a final tally of five, just 0.52 ahead of Smolders.

““I wanted to put my stamp on this Championship. To win a medal is always hard, and I must give credit to Peder for his horsemanship and to All In who is almost unbeatable – he’s the horse of a lifetime I think!” — Harrie Smolders NED

“My horse has been placed in every Grand Prix he’s jumped this year; Harrie’s horse percentage-wise jumps more clear rounds than any horse in the world if you look at the stats, and All In is probably the best horse in the world!” said O’Connor.

When asked if last summer’s silver medal success helped him in any way, Fredricson agreed that it did. “I was a bit annoyed that I was too slow in Rio in the jump-off. It has been my main goal since Rio to be a quicker rider, and this year I’ve won more than ever before. It helped me get this gold that I was fastest on the first day and for sure I’m happier with this colour medal than silver!”

Peder Fredricson SWE (Gold), talking about riding under pressure this week: “I knew I was going to be under pressure when I came here, but riding in a Championship in Sweden in front of this crowd has been amazing! Ever since I arrived and unloaded my horse a week ago everybody I met said, ‘Best of luck; I hope you win!’ It’s been a long week and this has been my goal for the whole week but at the same time I knew I had only one thing to do – go in and jump clear inside the time!”

Talking about his horse, All In: “I bought him when he was seven years old. I saw him at the World Championship for Young Horses; he was ridden by Nicola Philippaerts, and he was already then I think one of the best horses in the world. Of course you never know with a seven-year-old how they are going to develop, but he has been a super horse and any questions I have asked him he has given me a fantastic answer!”

Harrie Smolders NED (silver): “After the first day I was in almost an impossible position for a medal but I knew from other championships that with five or six points you are often on the podium and I also knew that my horse gets only better when it’s bigger. He had a really good feeling also on the first day so I knew he could do it, and he showed it now to everybody. He has blood but he is a little slow in his movement and he’s very, very scopey and he’s very consistent the last two years. He has jumped so many clear rounds all over the world, and in different circumstances, so I had a good feeling before this championship.”

By Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Leanne Williams
Media Relations and Communications Manager
leanne.williams@fei.org
+41 79 314 24 38

Werth Wins Ferocious Battle for Dressage Freestyle Gold

L to R: Sonke Rothenberger GER (silver), Isabell Werth GER (gold), Cathrine Dufour DEN (bronze). (FEI/Richard Juillart)

Isabell Werth (45) secured her third Dressage gold medal of the week when topping the individual Freestyle at the Longines FEI European Championships 2017 in Gothenburg, Sweden. But she had to pull out all the stops to pin German team-mate Sonke Rothenberger (22) into silver medal position while, mirroring the result of the Grand Prix Special, Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour (25) took bronze.

Multi-medalled Werth was under no illusions about the quality of the performance she needed to produce.

“We all pushed each other today. When I went in, both Weihe and I knew there was no little mini-mistake allowed, and that made it very exciting!” — Isabell Werth GER

That’s because Rothenberger is on the rise, producing stunning rides from his 10-year-old gelding Cosmo all week, joining Werth to take team gold, and then chasing her home in the Grand Prix Special to finish just over a mark behind. Sweden’s Therese Nilshagen produced the first over-80% score with the stunning stallion Dante Weltino before Britain’s Carl Hester and Nip Tuck fractionally improved on that to change the lead. But when Dufour, third-last to go, posted 84.560 with Atterupgaards Cassidy, the real battle commenced.

Rothenberger is a young man on a mission, oozing confidence and pizazz. Mastering the most difficult movements with the greatest of ease, he marched down the final centreline to throw down a massive score of 90.614 which really put it up to his compatriot.

But Werth thrives under pressure, and she had her game face on as her Freestyle music began. Weihegold listened to her all the way, producing a flawless performance that the crowd really enjoyed. But the tension on the German rider’s face as she waited for her mark to light up the scoreboard said it all. She knew it was going to be dangerously close.

“I was really hoping it would be good enough because Weihe was a good as she could be; it was her best test so I was happy and hoping it would be enough – and it was!” she said, having edged ahead by just 0.368 marks. In fact all three medallists produced personal-best Freestyle scores.

Werth, who also steered Weihegold to victory at the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final in Omaha (USA) in April, couldn’t hold back the tears on the medal podium. “I was full of adrenaline when I went in to ride, so it’s a mixture of all the emotions you have during the week – I’m really grateful and thankful for what this week has brought me,” said the lady who has experienced more golden moments in her extraordinary career than any other athlete in the history of equestrian sport.

Rothenberger looks like a real threat to her supremacy, however. Holding his silver medal he said with a smile, “If you look closely, it’s silver with a golden edge!” — Sonke Rothenberger GER

However, Werth remains the queen of all she surveys, her latest golden haul still just another good week at the office. It’s exactly 10 years since she first took European Freestyle gold at La Mandria (ITA). That was with another of her super-star rides and, looking at her final medal of the week, she said, “Satchmo would be proud!”

Sonke Rothenberger GER (silver), talking about his attitude to competition and his horse, Cosmo: “I don’t go into a test thinking of what others can do and then try to be better. I go into the test trying to show in the ring everything we practice outside and today was really a day where we made a plan and we trained outside in the warm-up, and today was a day when he gave me back exactly what I was asking for and that’s just what I do it for. He is a character of a horse and I just love him the way he is; he has this shiny edge and with his ears to the front he does the most difficult movement and I get goosebumps every time!”

Replying to a question about the Dutch connection in his family: “Maybe there’s a slight touch of orange to this medal!”

Cathrine Dufour DEN (bronze): “Cassidy was more calm today he really did everything he could, and I knew I had to be no 1 when I left the arena because I knew these two were coming. So I was really happy when I saw my score at the bit-check, and I knew these two would really ride for their lives and I’m very very happy!”

By Louise Parkes

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