(L to R) The 2013 gold medal winning team of Scott Brash, Will Funnell, Chef d’Equipe Rob Hoekstra, Michael Whitaker and Ben Maher. (FEI/Kit Houghton)
Lausanne (SUI), 11 August 2015 – Riders from a bigger spread of nations than ever before will line out when the FEI European Jumping Championships 2015 get underway in Aachen, Germany next week. A new high was reached when the list of definite Jumping entries was confirmed today, and a massive 29 nations will be represented, while 23 countries will field teams and five will send individuals.
The full list of nations is Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine.
This is the 32nd edition of the FEI European Jumping Championships, and the fifth time for the event to take place at Aachen. The inaugural FEI European Jumping Championship was held in Rotterdam (NED) in 1957 when German legend, Hans Gunther Winkler, claimed the title. Only individuals competed in the early editions, but as soon as the team event was introduced at Munich (GER) in 1975, Germany laid claim to that too. The German record in these championships is second to none, with 14 individual and seven team titles to their credit.
Defending the team title
However, it is the British who will be defending the team title they won in Herning, Denmark two years ago when the action gets underway on Wednesday 19 August, while Frenchman Roger Yves Bost returns as defending individual champion. The British have a strong record at the Europeans, with six individual and five team titles already on the record books. Their 2013 victory came hot on the heels of their gold-medal-winning performance at the London 2012 Olympic Games, but this time around they will be without their world no 1 rider Scott Brash who was a critical member of that successful side. Michael Whitaker steps up to the challenge once again, however, as does Ben Maher, while the veteran Guy Williams, Joe Clee and the relative newcomer Jessica Mendoza complete the pack. The British broke a 60-year drought when winning Olympic team gold in 2012, yet they still haven’t managed to qualify for Rio 2016. So, along with many others, they will really be feeling the heat next week when the final team qualification is up for grabs.
Despite fielding a typically formidable side, Germany had to settle for silver last time around, so Christian Ahlmann, Ludger Beerbaum, Daniel Deusser, Janne Friederike Meyer and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum will be hoping to restore normal order, especially on home ground. Sweden took bronze in 2013, and Malin Baryard-Johnsson, Douglas Lindelow, Helena Persson, Henrik von Eckermann and Charlotte Mordanini will be hoping to put their country back on that podium. The Irish are in fighting form and completely focused on claiming one of the three Olympic qualifying spots available, but with so many others including the Belgians and the Swiss chasing the same goal it will be no easy feat.
There will be no place to hide from the moment the first individual qualifier begins, because every single jump will count in the battle for both the FEI European Jumping Championships 2015 titles and one of those coveted tickets for Rio.
Roger Yves Bost was only the fifth French rider ever to claim the individual European honours two years ago. Great Britain’s Ben Maher went into the final competition with the narrowest of leads, but a fence down saw him having to settle for silver ahead of team-mate Scott Brash who rose from overnight 10th place to take bronze when producing the only double-clear performance of the day.
Bost was following in famous footsteps, as the list of previous French champions included Pierre Durand and the legendary Jappeloup who first topped the podium at St Gallen (SUI) in 1987, Eric Navet who reigned supreme on home turf at La Baule (FRA) in 1991, Alexandra Ledermann and Rochet M – the first woman ever to take the title – who headed the line-up in Hickstead (GBR) in 1999 and Kevin Staut and Kraque Boom who were winners in Windsor (GBR) in 2009. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum is the only other female champion, pipping Belgium’s Jos Lansink in a thriller at Mannheim (GER) in 2007 during the peak of her partnership with the great Shutterfly. And in the fabulous grey Fibonacci, the American-born German rider has found an extraordinarily talented replacement, so she cannot be overlooked once the action kicks off.
However, 96 riders will be carrying all their hopes and dreams onto the hallowed turf of the Soers arena at Aachen in seven days’ time, and these Championships, which have turned up some of the most memorable moments of this great sport down the years, promise plenty of drama and excitement before the 2015 champions are crowned.
Rules and Competition Format
Wednesday 19th August – First qualifying competition, individuals and teams. Table C (penalties turned into seconds added), fence height 1.50m, open to all athletes and horses declared as starters in the team and individual championship. Starting order decided by a draw.
Following this first competition the scores obtained by each athlete will be converted into points. The athlete with the lowest number of points will be given zero penalties.
Thursday 20th August – Round 1 of team competition, second individual competition. Table A, 1.60, open to all athletes who took part in the first competition. Individuals go first.
Friday 21st August – Team competition final and third individual competition. Table A, not against the clock, 1.60m. Open to the top 50 individuals who carry penalties forward from first individual qualifier and round 1 of the team event. Open to the top 10 teams following the previous day’s competition, including those tied for 10th place. In case of equality of points there will be a jump-off for the team medal positions.
Sunday 23rd August – Individual final open to 25 best-places athletes and horses including ties for 25th place. Two different 1.60m courses will be jumped, with 10-12 obstacles in round A and 8-10 obstacles in round B. Competitors will start in reverse order of merit in both rounds. Individual medals will be determined by adding together penalties from the first competition, the two rounds of the team competition and the two rounds of the final competition.
Facts and Figures:
The FEI European Jumping Championships begin on Wednesday 19 August and run through to the individual final on Sunday 23 August.
Competitors from 28 nations will participate.
23 countries have entered teams.
5 nations will be represented by individual riders.
A total of 96 horse-and-rider combinations are listed in the definite entries (11 August 2015).
This is the 32nd edition of the FEI European Jumping Championships, and the fifth time for the event to take place in Aachen.
The inaugural FEI European Jumping Championship took place in Rotterdam (NED) in 1957.
Only individuals competed in the early Championships. The team event was first introduced at Munich (GER) in 1975.
Back-to-back individual champions – Great Britain’s David Broome with Mr Softee at Rotterdam (NED) in 1967 and Hickstead (GBR) in 1969.
Back-to-back triple champions – Germany’s Paul Schockemohle and Deister at Munich (GER) in 1981, Hickstead (GBR) in 1983 and Dinard (FRA) in 1985.
Germany holds the record for the biggest number of individual victories with 14 in total over the last 58 years.
Germany also holds the record for the greatest number of wins in the team event, with seven to date.
Only one horse has ever won the individual European Jumping title with two different riders – the Irish-bred Mr Softee who claimed gold for David Barker in 1962 and then produced back-to-back victories for fellow-Briton David Broome in 1967 and 1969.
Defending champions are the British who produced their fifth win at the last Championships staged in Herning, Denmark in 2013.
For more information on the FEI European Championships 2015 in Aachen, visit www.aachen2015.de.
The full list of entries for the FEI European Jumping Championships 2015 is available here.
By Louise Parkes
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