Category Archives: *Featured/Spotlights

Special features, spotlights, headlines

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

Donate to USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund and Help Horses Affected by Hurricane Harvey

Photo: Houston SPCA.

Sweeping across the Gulf Coast of Texas as a Category 4 hurricane over the past weekend, Hurricane Harvey’s catastrophic flooding has put the Houston and surrounding area equine community in a state of distress. Declared a major disaster and weather event, hundreds of horses and livestock have been affected.

Banding together as a community, emergency rescues, fellow equestrians opening up their barns for shelter and extensive veterinary care has been required over the last several days.  As the rain continues to fall, rising flood waters will make extended care for displaced large and small animals on an ongoing need.

Supporting the efforts of emergency response groups and organizations that are helping horses impacted by the flooding, US Equestrian is providing financial assistance through the USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund.

Developed in 2005 during the aftermath of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, the USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund was formed to help ensure the safety and well-being of horses during trying times. Since its inception, over $370,000 has been donated to aid horses across all breeds in disaster-related situations. All money donated to the fund is strictly used to benefit horses and horse owners.

DONATE TO HELP HORSES

US Equestrian will be working with the Houston SPCA to support their rescue and rehabilitation efforts through the USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund.

Encouraging donations to help the horses affected by Hurricane Harvey, US Equestrian CEO Bill Moroney said, “As part of our commitment to the health, welfare, and safety of horses, the USEF disaster relief fund was created to assist horses impacted by devastating natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey. The outreach and generosity of the equestrian community to support the ongoing emergency assistance in this and future disasters allows us to provide direct financial assistance to the groups involved in the ongoing rescue efforts.”

For more information on the USEF Equine Disaster Relief Fund, please contact Vicki Lowell, vlowell@usef.org.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Driving the Winner as Dutch Claim Double Gold on Final Day of Extraordinary Championships

Photo: IJsbrand Chardon. (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

In one of the closest finishes in recent history, the Netherlands narrowly held off a resurgent German trio and a fighting Belgian challenge to claim their fourth successive European team gold after a captivating final day of competition of the Longines FEI European Championships in Gothenburg (SWE).

Driven on by their irrepressible individual gold medallist IJsbrand Chardon, the Dutch just about maintained their air of invincibility, but they certainly had to work for it.

Spurred on by consultant trainer and world number one Boyd Exell (AUS), the Germans came hard at the men in orange through the cones test, but with both individual bronze medallist Christoph Sandmann and Georg von Stein picking up late time penalties, they fell just short.

With all three Dutch drivers finishing inside the top six individual positions, the Netherlands took team honours with a total of 299.73 to the Germans’ 308.94.

“We fought hard for this; nine points is not a lot. They were very close.” — Team gold medallist Koos de Ronde (NED)

Compatriot Chardon was quick to add: “Boyd is very clever; he certainly made their team better.”

The Belgians showed their emerging strength, claiming team bronze after holding off a spirited last-day challenge from the French team, for whom Anthony Horde went double clear, one of six individual drivers to achieve the feat.

“Team Belgium is ready to challenge now,” individual silver medallist Edouard Simonet said after finishing less than two points behind Chardon’s winning score of 150.37. “We will work on our dressage to get even better with Glenn (Geerts) and Dries (Degrieck) and with the marathon we need to get a more consistent performance and then we will be really close to the Dutch and the Germans.”

Geerts, who at 28 years old is the elder statesman of the team, stressed the “huge boost” a first Championship medal will give to the sport in Belgium, after they finished on 320.04, just over 13 penalties clear of the French.

Ultimately, however, no-one could quite steal the limelight from Chardon. Fresh from revelling in the “rock concert crowd” of marathon day, the 55-year-old thrived in front of a full house at the Heden Arena.

“For me it helps. The bigger the pressure, the better. The horses were so good, it was easy in the end.” — Dutch gold medallist IJsbrand Chardon

Indeed the Dutchman was clear enough of the rest of the field to let out a yelp of delight and start his celebrations at the last obstacle, even though he knocked off a ball.

“I was too happy; I’m sorry!” he laughed.

Closest challenger Simonet reflected on a dilemma facing many top young sportsmen.

“It’s good but there’s a little disappointment I did a little mistake yesterday on the marathon. But I’m only 27 and the future is in front of me. I have many Championships to try and get the gold.” — Belgium’s individual silver and team bronze medallist Edouard Simonet

A further point back, Germany’s Sandmann praised the virtues of working with world champion Exell while acknowledging the relationship cannot last.

“Boyd is so professional, so thorough, everything is 1000%. We hope to keep him but next time we have the World Equestrian Games and then we will be fighting each other,” he said ruefully.

As a contented crowd poured out of the Heden Arena, it was left to Exell, the biggest name in the sport, to deliver a final verdict on an extraordinary Longines FEI European Championships.

“Yesterday was a stonking crowd; it was like a rock concert out there and a full house today,” said the Australian. “The nice thing was that driving looked like the most popular of all the equestrian disciplines.”

By Luke Norman

FEI Media Contacts:

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

Germany Takes the Early Lead in Dressage

Photo: Helen Langehanenberg and Damsey FRH. (FEI/Claes Jakobsson)

Chasing down their 23rd European team Dressage title, Germany took a firm grip on the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the Grand Prix at the Longines FEI European Championships 2017 in Gothenburg (SWE).

Helen Langehanenberg got them off to a great start when posting the biggest score of the day, 74.986%, with Damsey FRH, and team-mate Dorothee Schneider (48) cemented that when slotting into second place on a mark of 74.586 with Sammy Davis Jr. With two more riders still to go, including their superstar combination of Isabell Werth and Weihegold, the Germans have almost a six-point lead over their nearest rivals, the defending champions from The Netherlands.

And it’s incredibly tight going into the second half of the competition with Denmark breathing down those Dutch necks just a fraction further behind, while the hosts from Sweden are in fourth place only another 1.0% adrift. A total of 16 teams are contesting the medal placings.

Langehanenberg (35), who, during her sensational career with the brilliant stallion Damon Hill, was a member of the victorious German team at the Europeans in Herning (DEN) in 2013 and the silver medal winning Olympic team at London 2012, has a relatively new ride in Damsey FRH.

“Although he is 15, we are a young couple, just one and a half years together now. He’s a wonderful horse but he’s like a lucky bag – you never know what’s going to come out! He is in a good mood today, and he’s different again tomorrow. Today he was great!” — Helen Langehanenberg GER

Patrick van der Meer (46) and Zippo were the first Dutch partnership into the ring, scoring 71.114, and Diederik van Silfhout added a competitive 72.528 with Four Seasons to back that up. But van Silfhout’s Danish pupil Anna Zibrandtsen (23) and Arlando, the brilliant horse her Dutch tutor steered to team gold at the FEI European Championships in Aachen (GER) in 2015, produced a stunning performance to earn a mark of 72.957 which, when added to team-mate Agnete Kirk Thinggaard’s 70.629 with Jojo AZ ensured the Danes are right in the mix.

Only the second German partnership of Dorothee Schneider and Sammy Davis Jr pinned Zibrandtsen back to third place when putting a mark of 74.585 on the board. Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven and Paridon Magi’s 72.857 filled fourth slot.

Austria, Spain, France, Russia, Finland and Belarus are lining up between fifth and 11th places, but don’t discount the British yet. Down a man since Gareth Hughes withdrew Don Carissimo they could still be in with a shout according to Emile Faurie who steered another relative novice, the 12-year-old Lollipop, into sixth spot on a mark of 72.285.

When asked about his hopes for the 2011 team gold and 2015 European silver medal winning nation, he said “that Spencer (Wilton) scores 80 and Carl (Hester) rides 90, which they both can, and must! 72 (his own score) has been a counting score in the past; we’ve got two brilliant riders with two brilliant horses coming so I don’t see that as too big an ask!”

By Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

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

Eventing Gold for Great Britain and Germany’s Ingrid Klimke at Strzegom

Photo: The victorious British team at the FEI European Eventing Championships at Strzegom in Poland: Nicola Wilson (also individual bronze), Ros Canter, Oliver Townend and Kristina Cook (FEI/Jon Stroud)

A jubilant British team was celebrating after jumping three superb clear rounds in the final phase to hold onto their overnight lead and clinch the longed-for team title at the FEI European Eventing Championships in Strzegom (POL).

“We are very excited to be back on top. We’ve got some amazing riders and horses and we’ve worked hard for this.” — Kristina Cook, British gold medal team member

Ingrid Klimke, who has been such a key member of the German team for 17 years, also delivered a jumping perfect round under pressure on Horseware Hale Bob to win her first individual title and lead Germany to team silver.

Triple European champion Michael Jung’s winning run finally ended and the German sportingly settled for individual silver with a clear round on fischerRocana.

“You just have to keep going and after 20 years it will happen! I always want to be a team player, but this was my dream” — Ingrid Klimke (GER), new European champion

Sweden held onto team bronze, but Sara Algotsson Ostholt had a less than happy jumping round on Reality 39 and dropped from third to ninth.

Britain’s Nicola Wilson went clear on Bulana to take bronze, her first individual medal, while Cook and Canter lined up behind her in fourth and fifth. Oliver Townend, who was the discard score, did not present Cooley SRS at the final horse inspection.

Ten teams and 56 riders completed the competition, although there was disappointment when host nation Poland’s best rider, Pawel Spisak, was denied a fairy-tale finish after Banderas did not pass the final horse inspection.

www.strzegom2017.pl

By Kate Green

FEI Press contact:

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

Great Britain Bounces Back at Eventing Championships to Take Lead after Cross Country

Photo: Ingrid Klimke with Horseware Hale Bob. (FEI/Jon Stroud)

Great Britain has swept into the lead after cross country at the FEI European Eventing Championships in Strzegom (POL) with three brilliant clear rounds from team rookie Ros Canter on Allstar B, Kristina Cook (Billy the Red) and anchorman Nicola Wilson (Bulana).

“Bulana is so honest and good on a line. She was in a rhythm from start to finish. It’s very exciting! We had a group team hug and a jump around!” — British team member Nicola Wilson (GBR), lying 4th individually

But Britain has only two fences in hand over the defending champions, Germany, who is known for their skill in the final jumping phase. German duo Ingrid Klimke (Horseware Hale Bob) and triple European champion Michael Jung (fischerRocana FST) completed flawless rounds and are in individual gold and silver medal positions.

Germany slipped behind Britain when pathfinder Julia Krajewski, riding Samourai du Thot, picked up 20 penalties for a runout at fence 8 and dressage leader Bettina Hoy (Seigneur Medicott) ran out at the influential double of angled brushes at fence 4 and was then eliminated for a fall at the 10th.

“I felt under pressure for sure, but Bobby was in such good form that I was nearly laughing and really had to concentrate. We had such fun out there!” — Ingrid Klimke (GER), individual overnight leader

Sweden was the only nation to achieve four clear rounds and is in bronze medal position, with Sara Algotsson Ostholt and Reality 39 in individual third place.

Ten nations completed as teams, with the hosts, Poland, in sixth place behind Italy and Belgium. The French, who were second after dressage, finished with only two riders after Gwendolen Fer had a fall with Traumprinz and Thomas Carlile, lying in sixth place, was eliminated for three refusals with the stallion Upsilon.

Britain’s day started shakily when pathfinder Oliver Townend had two runouts on the inexperienced Cooley SRS, but he still completed with only 1.2 time penalties, which was one of the fastest times of the day. There were 63 completions, 35 clear rounds and four inside the optimum time of 10 minutes.

“Oliver did a great job because he never gave up and the team was fantastic. It’s where preparation meets opportunity. I get a lot of teasing from my German friends, but I am thrilled to be working with the British team again.” — Christopher Bartle, former German trainer, now training Team GB

Follow live scoring on www.strzegom2017.pl.

By Kate Green

FEI Press contact:

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

19 European Nations Line Up at Eventing Championships in Strzegom

Michael Jung will be bidding for a record fourth individual title at the 2017 FEI European Eventing Championships (FEI/Jon Stroud)

Can anyone break Germany’s firm grip on the FEI European Eventing Championships? That is the question as riders, horses, owners, grooms and trainers from 19 countries, plus a host of volunteers, have been welcomed to the first senior Eventing championships to be held at the Stragona Equestrian Center in Strzegom (POL) from August 17-20 and the first one in Eastern Europe since Bialy Bor (POL) in 1986.

The German team is bidding for a fourth successive European team gold medal and world number one Michael Jung, whose extraordinary winning run began in Luhmühlen (GER) in 2011 with the great La Biosthetique Sam, will again be one of the favourites to take the title and, in the process, make Eventing history.

The Jung story continued to Malmö (SWE) in 2013, where he triumphed on Halunke, and then in 2015 he produced an unforgettable display of horsemanship on fischerTakinou, galloping through torrential rain at Blair Castle (GBR) in the Scottish Highlands to equal Ginny Eliot’s (GBR) record of three successive titles on three different horses and receive team and individual gold medals from HRH Queen Elizabeth ll.

Now he will be trying to make history on Polish soil, and few would bet against him making it four in a row with fischerRocana FST, known as ‘Roxy’. The brilliant little mare is a dual winner of Kentucky CCI4* and won world team gold and individual silver medals at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy (FRA) in 2014.

A mighty German squad includes three-time Olympic gold medallist Ingrid Klimke (Horseware Hale Bob), and recent Luhmühlen winners Julia Krajewski (Samourai Du Thot).

Joy of the sport

However, nothing is ever predictable in Eventing – that is the joy of the sport – and the name that has been on everyone’s lips this summer is Frenchman Thomas Carlile on the beautiful grey stallion Upsilon, a horse that is hugely talented in all three phases.

Last year at the Rio Olympic Games, the French beat the Germans to team gold and they come to Strzegom on a wave of confidence. They may be missing the Olympic silver medallist Astier Nicolas, who is injured, but France fields riders of the calibre of Maxime Livio, currently ranked fifth in the world, and 2015 individual bronze medallist Thibaut Vallette. Remarkably, France, so often the silver medallists, have never won the European team title, but they must surely feel the tide is about to turn.

Great Britain have dominated the European Championships for many years with an unbroken winning run of eight titles from 1995 to 2009, and will be equally determined to regain their place at the top of the leaderboard, as will their new team trainer Christopher Bartle who helped Germany to three Olympic golds and multiple championship medals.

The British squad is headed by Kristina Cook (Billy the Red), for whom it is an eighth European appearance. She is the only mother to have taken the European title, which she did convincingly in 2009 on Miners Frolic in Fontainebleau (FRA).

The strong British line-up includes Luhmühlen runner-up Nicola Wilson on the exciting black mare Bulana – Wilson is the highest ranked rider here at world number four after Jung – plus newly crowned national champion Gemma Tattersall (Quicklook V) and Oliver Townend (Cooley SRS), who is ranked eighth in the world.

Look out also for Belgium’s leading lady Karin Donckers, the world number 10, for whom it is a seventh European Championship, Belarusian Olympic rider Alena Tseliapushkina on Passat, Swiss brothers Ben and Felix Vogg, Swedish sisters Sara and Linda Algotsson and leading Irish couple Michael and Patricia Ryan.

There will be teams from Spain, Italy, Russia, and, for the first time in decades, Norway, coached by the great Finnish rider Piia Pantsu-Jonsson, world bronze medallist in 2002.

The action begins 17 August when the dressage test starts at 10:00 CEST in front of ground jury Ernst Topp (GER, president), Sue Baxter (GBR) and Slawomir Pietrzak (POL). The Technical Delegate is Gillian Kyle from Ireland and great anticipation surrounds Saturday’s action on the cross country track designed by the German maestro Rűdiger Schwarz, who produced such brilliant sport for the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Aachen (GER).

History is waiting to be made – but who will be making it?

Follow the action on www.fei.tv.

By Kate Green

FEI Media Contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

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