Tag Archives: FEI

Werth Takes Back-to-Back Grand Prix Special Gold

Isabell Werth. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Team-mate Schneider pushes her all the way

In a mighty battle between two of the sport’s true greats, Isabell Werth, the lady recognised as the reigning Queen of international Dressage, won through once again in the Grand Prix Special at the Longines FEI Dressage European Championships 2019 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Two years ago in Gothenburg, Sweden, Werth pinned team-mate Sonke Rothenberger into silver medal spot, and this time around it was her other German compatriot, Dorothee Schneider, who had to settle for second place. But Schneider chased her right to the line with a brilliant performance from Showtime, and was overwhelmed with emotion afterwards.

“This is the greatest day of my life – my first individual medal!” said the double-Olympian. “I had one mistake in the flying changes because I lost a stirrup – I have to talk to my trainer about doing some lunging again! I’ve been riding this horse for 10 years now and he is so amazing. I’m really proud to be sitting in second place tonight behind Isabell!” she said.

She established the lead with just five left to go on a mark of 85.456 but Werth overtook her with another of her show-stopping rides on the mare she most adores, posting the winning score of 86.520.

“I know that with Bella Rose everything is possible and it is up to me to make it happen. The piaffe/passage could not be better than it was tonight; the feeling was outstanding and the atmosphere was really special!” — Isabell Werth (GER)

Bronze went to Cathrine Dufour and Atterupgaards Cassidy, the pair who really put themselves onto centre stage when also third in the Grand Prix Special and Freestyle at the 2017 Europeans. They posted 81.337 just before Schneider came into the ring but, typically modest, the Danish rider didn’t think that was good enough for a podium placing and headed back to the stables with her little chestnut gelding only to get the call-up to return to the arena. And that took a bit of reorganisation.

“I didn’t think I would get a medal so I told my groom to unplait him, so we had to put the plaits back in again – it was a bit of a surprise – but I’m so happy with Cassidy; he’s now 16 but he’s in such great shape!” she said.

Age is but a number to the horses competing this week, and there was huge excitement in the Irish camp when Judy Reynolds and her 17-year-old gelding Vancouver K separated the two remaining members of Tuesday’s gold-medal-winning German team, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl who slotted into fourth with TSF Dalera BB and Sonke Rothenberger and Cosmo in sixth place. Scoring 78.252, Reynolds finished fifth and set her second Irish record score of the week having helped secure an Olympic team qualifying spot for her country with another brilliant performance on Tuesday.

The evening’s competition had a real buzz about it and Judge a C, Susanne Baarup, said the Ground Jury enjoyed every moment of it. “It was an amazing class and also very exciting to judge because a lot of riders had some problems in there. I think as a judge it’s very emotional; we get goosebumps, and we give 9s and 10s and we think my god where do we end here! It’s really just the small details that separate the riders. We talked afterwards and said we want to do it again, we want to see them again, and of course we will do that on Saturday in the Freestyle, and we are really looking forward to it!”

Results here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Double Dutch Delights on Para Dressage Day Two

Sanne Voets with Demantur Rs2 N.O.P. (FEI / Liz Gregg)

Dutch Paralympic riders thrilled the home crowd by taking both gold medals on offer at the Longines FEI Para Dressage European Championships in Rotterdam.

Leading the charge was Paralympic and triple world gold medallist Sanne Voets in grade IV’s individual test, swiftly followed by Frank Hosmar in grade V’s competition. Both riders successfully defended their titles from the last European championships in Gothenburg in 2017.

Voets’ win came on Demantur Rs2 N.O.P., with a score of 76.659%. And in a straight replication of Gothenburg’s competition, silver went to Belgium’s Manon Claeys on San Dior with 73.805%, and the bronze to Sweden’s Louise Etzner Jakobsson with 72.902% on Zernard.

Clearly emotional after her first major international win in front of a home crowd, Voets said: “I’m European champion again. I love that. I am thrilled!

“I was really pleased with him [Demantur Rs2 N.O.P.]. I had a little hiccup in my first transition and that was my mistake. This horse knows what to do but waits for me to say ‘when’ so he was a bit confused. But I can’t blame him.

“I’ve been nervous all week. I arrived on Sunday and then had to wait three days to ride. When I woke up today, I was happy to get started.”

Claeys was delighted with her silver too, adding: “It feels really good. Sanne deserves to be number one, but I’m very happy with the test today.”

Hosmar’s gold came on his long-term partner, Alphaville N.O.P. The pair has been a team since the London 2012 Paralympic Games and scored a personal best of 75.810%. His close rival and world number one, Great Britain’s Sophie Wells, took the silver on C Fatal Attraction with 75.595%. And in a major surprise, just weeks into their riding partnership, Belgium’s Michele George stormed back to a championship podium for the first time since Rio 2016 to take the bronze on Best of 8 with 72.571%.

“I’m really delighted,” Hosmar said. “He was so nice and every step I could manage him. He was totally controlled and that’s what I like. I’m enjoying the home competition and there are many more people here from where I live including my friends and family who can come and watch.”

Wells was philosophical about her second place and said: “He was a little tense. He didn’t notice anything as we went in but then it was as if he thought, ‘oh there’s a lot of people here.’ But that’s horses, isn’t it?”

Wells also scored the first 10 of the championships but laughed: “Started to go downhill from there though.”

Outside of the medals there was better news for Great Britain’s Nicky Greenhill in grade IV. She’s her country’s first ever visually impaired rider at a major competition and is making her European debut. It’s fair to say she’s not had the easiest of starts though.

For starters, she’s here on her reserve horse, King Edward I, after her usual ride Betty Boo was left at home. Then her guide dog Sparky had some transportation issues with certain local taxis, and her husband Gary, who calls for her in the arena so she knows where she is, lost his voice. To cap it all, she was stung by a wasp and ended up taking a precautionary visit to hospital with anaphylactic shock.

However, she came a solid fourth in her grade, and was delighted with that result. Writing on her Facebook page, she said: “Wow, what a day. I think I have proven now that I can cope with most challenges that are thrown at me.”

After two days of competition, the Dutch are firmly at the head of the para dressage medal table with two golds, a silver, and a bronze. Denmark, Norway, and Austria are equal second with a gold each, while Great Britain are third with two silvers. Belgium has one silver and two bronzes.

The championships now have two days of team competition ahead. If the medals are anything to go by, that’s likely to be a tight battle between the home nation, the Brits, the Germans, the Danes, and the Belgians.

Click here for full results.

By Rob Howell

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4

Clear Rounds Carry Belgians to Top of Jumping Team Leaderboard

Pieter Devos and Claire Z. (FEI/Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

In a thrilling second day of competition at the Longines FEI Jumping European Championships 2019 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Team Belgium rocketed up from overnight eighth place into pole position when they were the only side to produce three clear rounds.

Dutch course designer, Louis Konickx, turned up the heat with a significantly bigger track, and from the 68 starters that included 9 individuals not competing in teams, there were only 11 foot-perfect runs around his 14-fence course.

The first-day leaders from Germany slipped to silver medal spot, the French dropped from second to fourth, and Great Britain climbed from fourth to overtake the third-placed Swedish side. And adding to the heat of excitement, the battle for the three Olympic qualifying spots on offer also saw some shuffling with Belgium, Britain, and France now well-placed going into the medal-decider.

Germany looked set for another great day when reigning World Champion, Simone Blum, kicked off with another lovely clear from DSP Alice. But when Christian Ahlmann and Clintrexo Z hit both the vertical after the open water at fence 8 and the oxer at 11, and Marcus Ehning also double-faulted with Comme Il Faut, then they began to lose their grip. Despite a brilliant last-to-go clear from Daniel Deusser and Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z, they had to add one of those eight-fault scores to their tally.

Both France and Sweden added 12 and dropped off a potential medal position, but the British posted just the four picked up at the water by anchorman Scott Brash and Hello M’Lady, because Ben Maher (Explosion W) and Holly Smith (Hearts Destiny) made no mistake, so Amanda Derbyshire’s eight faults (Luibanta BH) could be discounted.

Meanwhile, the Belgians began climbing up the order with clears from both Pieter Devos with Claire Z and Jos Verlooy and Igor. They faltered with two down for Jérôme Guery and Quel Homme de Hus, but when Gregory Wathelet sailed home with their third foot-perfect run of the day, they suddenly found themselves sitting pretty at the very top of the leaderboard because it’s the best three scores per nation that count.

“We knew that after today we would have quite some changes on the leaderboard… the boys did a fantastic job, and the horses jumped amazing!” — Peter Weinberg (Team Belgium Chef d’Equipe)

Pathfinder Pieter Devos said, “The course designer did a great job today. It was much more technical, you had to ride with a plan to the very last fence, but it was a horse-friendly course. We can go to day three tomorrow with the horses not being in the red, and this is always good,” he pointed out.

Jérôme Guery explained that this is a first championship for his 13-year-old stallion. “I knew the vertical after the water would be difficult, and the triple combination was really short for me, but I am happy and lucky to have a strong team with me. I am only riding this horse for the last six months; he’s a slow horse but with a big canter. I use his big strides to be on time, and I always have to keep an eye on it,” he added.

Wathelet’s horse is also a Championship first-timer, but he’s been riding the 11-year-old grey stallion, MJT Nevados S, since he was six so they know each other very well.  “We now have a team of horses that are more experienced and we feel better and better each year,” he said.

At 23 years of age, Jos Verlooy is by far the youngest in the Belgian side, but he already has plenty of mileage on his career clock and this week his 11-year-old chestnut gelding is competing at Championship level for a second time. “He was in Tryon (at the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018), but he didn’t do too much this year so we could keep him fresh and fit for this Championship,” he explained. It seems that decision is paying off in spade-loads because not only is his team out in front, but he personally sits in sixth place individually and a spot in Sunday’s top-25 individual final looks very much on the cards.

When asked if he thinks his team can hold on to gold medal position at the end of the last round of the team competition in which only the top 10 nations will battle it out, Chef d’Equipe Peter Weinberg said, “We will try very hard, but our first goal is to qualify for Tokyo and anything else will be a bonus on top of that!”

Britain’s Ben Maher has moved up to pole position in the individual rankings ahead of Swiss star Steve Guerdat while Frenchman Alexis Deroubaix is lying third ahead of Germany’s Daniel Deusser in fourth place. First-day leader, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson, dropped to eighth with a fence down, but he’s only a fence off the leader, while in the team rankings there’s less than a fence separating the top three nations.

Results here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Dramatic Tie and Dazzling Dane Dominate Opening Day of Para Dressage

Tobias Thorning Joergensen riding Jolene Hill. (FEI / Liz Gregg)

The Longines FEI European Para Dressage Championships got off to the most dramatic start possible with a tie at the top of the Grade I individual competition, an exceptionally rare event in the sport.

Norway’s Jens-Lasse Dokkan (Aladdin) and Italy’s Sara Morganti (Royal Delight) both scored 75.036%, with Dokkan given the gold after the final four collective marks were tallied. Sport results don’t get any closer than that!

Dokkan has been riding at top international level for well over 20 years and competed at the first ever Paralympic equestrian competition in Atlanta (USA) in 1996. He hasn’t won at this level for 10 years but that changed. “It feels great, my first ever individual title,” he said. “I’ve only had Aladdin since October and our first competition was in March.

“This is fantastic and gives me motivation to work to hopefully take part in my seventh Paralympics in Tokyo next year.” — Jens-Lasse Dokkan (Norway)

The moment was bittersweet for Morganti. The triple world gold medallist has yet to win a European title, and a nervous start to her test on Royal Delight which scored just 5.9 clearly cost her a comfortable gold here in Rotterdam. “The horse was a little bit behind me today,” she explained. “It was difficult for me because I needed a lot of energy to bring her forward. But it’s OK. I was dreaming for a medal and coming second with the same score as first place is amazing.”

Latvia’s Rihards Snikus took a solid bronze with King of the Dance after scoring 74.821%.

There was drama in Grade III too, when Denmark’s Tobias Thorning Joergensen upset the form books by taking the individual title ahead of home favourite and triple 2018 world champion, Rixt van der Horst. Riding Jolene Hill, Joergensen scored 75.706% with van der Horst and Findsley N.O.P. one point behind with 74.706%.

A clearly delighted Joergensen said of being European champion: “It sounds amazing. I’m just so happy. It’s incredible. I knew there were a few riders who could beat me. I was nervous but I stayed at the arena and watched every single one, hoping for them not to pass me.

“I’ve only been on the scene for two years and got my horse just four months ago, so this means everything to me. She is amazing to ride and amazing every day. She is so kind she would go through fire and water for me.”

And Para Dressage’s only side-saddle rider Barbara Minneci picked up her first ever medal at a major international, taking the bronze on Stuart with a score of 70.382%. “I was not here to do a medal,” she laughed. “I was just here for the team. I’m really happy because I love my horse and I think he has a lot of potential and today showed that. And there is still more to show.”

In Grade II, Austria’s Pepo Puch affirmed his place as one of the biggest names in Para Dressage, taking the win on Sailor’s Blue with a score of 75.235%. That put him ahead of British debutant Georgia Wilson, who rode Midnight to a mark of 73.471%. The Netherlands’ Nicole den Dulk claimed bronze with Wallace N.O.P. on 73.353%.

Puch said: “I was so happy. The horse was so concentrated. He’s so great. It’s difficult for me to sit down and relax which is my problem. So like my horse, I have to train my body to be relaxed and smooth.”

And Georgia Wilson was also thrilled with her performance. “It was nerve-wracking but good,” she said. “I’m glad the first one’s out the way and I can build on things for the second test.”

Last – and somewhat surprising – word of the day though belongs to Joergensen. When asked about his plans to celebrate his first major international title he laughed: “I just want to go back to my hotel and sleep,” he said. “I’m so tired!”

Click here for the full results.

By Rob Howell

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4

Germany Gets Dressage Gold Again on Roller-Coaster Day in Rotterdam

(L to R) Sonke Rothenberger, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, Isabell Werth, and Dorothee Schneider. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Germany claimed the team title for a staggering 24th time at the Longines FEI European Dressage Championships 2019 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands where the hosts scooped silver and Sweden snatched the bronze.

The battle for medal placings was intense, and so too was the contest for the three available qualifying spots at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games which eventually went to Denmark, Ireland, and Portugal.

On an extraordinary afternoon of high drama, German superstar Isabell Werth posted the biggest score of the competition with 85.652 from Bella Rose to secure the title and collect her 22nd European Championship medal and the 11th European team gold of her illustrious career. The stage looked set for Great Britain to bag the silver, but elimination for the penultimate partnership of Charlotte Dujardin and Mt St John Freestyle under the blood rule dropped her team to fourth, so it was the Dutch and Swedes who filled the lower steps of the podium.

The winning German side consisted of all four gold medallists from last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon (USA), the only difference being the replacement of Dorothee Schneider’s ride, Sammy Davis Jr, with Showtime. Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB opened the German account, and when Sonke Rothenberger added 79.084, and then Werth and her 15-year-old mare put 85.652 on the board, the defending champions were never going to be overtaken.

It was another masterclass from the legend that is Werth, the most medalled athlete in the history of equestrian sport who said that the win was extra special because she achieved it with her beloved Bella Rose. “She was really brilliant. I’m happy and proud; both of us enjoyed the competition,” she said.

Werth, Schneider, and Rothenberger were also all on Germany’s triumphant 2017 European side along with Helen Langehanenberg, but despite having another European gold medal around his neck, Rothenberger wasn’t entirely satisfied with his own performance.

“We came here with a really strong team knowing all horses scored already over 80%, so we expected quite a bit, but as you will see today it’s always a different story when you have to put it on the day in the ring. I was quite nervous for my own test… I couldn’t ride the perfectly precise round that we had in Aachen, but I’m looking forward to the following days and it was super fun to have such amazing colleagues who put down such amazing rounds!” — Sonke Rothenberger (Team Germany)

Lying second as the day began, it seemed the British would cruise into silver medal spot when Carl Hester and Hawtins Delicato posted 78.323 with Dujardin still to come. But as the riders were preparing for the prizegiving the news of her elimination filtered through and Sweden moved up to bronze and the Dutch into silver medal spot.

Anne Meulendijks (MDH Avanti NOP) was the Dutch pathfinder with a score of 71.801 and Hans Peter Minderhoud (Glock’s Dream NOP) followed with a mark of 75.295. Today Emmelie Scholtens posted 76.087 with Desperado NOP, and when Edward Gal followed that with 78.758 from Glock’s Zonik NOP, then the hosts were always going to take a podium placing.

Gal joked however that his stallion was a little distracted in the warm-up ring. “There were all the mares I think that were in the competition in the same warm-up as me, so he was really wild – in the end they went away and I had five minutes when I could ride normal and then it was quite OK. But then in the ring I felt the concentration was a bit down… but luckily everything went well and the points were also nice so that’s why we are here now!” he explained.

Minderhoud described the afternoon as “really crazy because we were counting all the time for the scores,” and pointed out that this result means a lot to the host nation. “It was four years ago we had a medal, and I can tell you it’s not so nice to travel to Tryon (USA, for the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018) and to travel to Rio (BRA, 2016 Olympic Games) and not have a medal in your suitcase when you come back!” So this felt pretty good.

Sweden’s Patrick Kittel was also delighted to find himself and his team that included Therese Nilshagen and Antonia and Juliette Ramel on the podium. “Today was quite something; like Hans Peter said it was like a roller-coaster. At first I was almost biting the sand – I thought it was going to be another Tryon again, 0.2 away from the medal, but in the end it worked out and we’ve had amazing sport and seen amazing horses!”

The individual standings in the Grand Prix showed Werth, Schneider, and Rothenberger with the top three scores followed by Gal in fourth, Denmark’s Daniel Bachmann Andersen in fifth, and Britain’s Hester just ahead of Kittel in sixth place. The top 30 individuals go through to Thursday’s Grand Prix Special in which Werth and Rothenberger will be defending the gold and silver they won in Gothenburg (SWE) two years ago.

Results here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Germans Already in Command after First Day of Dressage

Dorothee Schneider. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Team Germany took the first step on the road to their 24th team title when Dorothee Schneider and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl posted the two best scores on the opening day of the Longines FEI Dressage European Championships 2019 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Von Bredow-Werndl’s 76.894 with TSF Dalera BB topped the leaderboard until the closing stages when Schneider overtook her with a mark of 80.233 for a fabulous test with Showtime FRH. And with team-mates Sonke Rothenberger riding Cosmo and the legendary Isabell Werth riding Bella Rose still to come when the competition resumes, it seems the destiny of gold is all but already assured.

“I’m very happy to be in this team; I’m proud to be here and I’m very happy with my test!” said double-Olympian Schneider. Talking about her horse’s performance, she said there were “some very, very good parts, and in other parts he was a bit nervous, but altogether I am happy to have this result for the team and to be here and to have a fit horse!”

That’s because the 13-year-old gelding with which she won team gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is making a very significant comeback.

“Showtime was two years out, but at the beginning of this year we started him again and he’s getting better and better – in his concentration he was very good at the German Championships (in June) and he was very, very good in Aachen (in July) so it’s very emotional for me to have this horse under me again, and to feel how motivated he is!” — Dorothee Schneider (GER)

A superb personal-best Grand Prix score of 76.351 from Gareth Hughes with Classic Briolinca helped put Great Britain into silver-medal-spot going into the second day. “I couldn’t be happier!” he said.

“She’s had her injuries as well; she’s had a stop-start career at Grand Prix so she’s still quite inexperienced, but we’ve had a good season up to this. She suffers sometimes from nerves; she’s usually not very good at halting or walking, but today she was excellent; she was focused so I just had to point, keep her head up and use my leg when I needed to, and she took care of the rest!” said the rider who was a member of Britain’s silver-medal-winning team at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Caen, France.

His compatriot, 23-year-old Charlotte Fry, produced a stunning senior championship debut to put 74.317 on the board with Dark Legend earlier in the day, and Hughes said, “Lottie did a great job – her first championship and she’s so young; she has nerves of steel… she’s another Charlotte (Dujardin)! She laid down a really good score to start with, and that always gives the second rider confidence. It’s a long day to hang around and wait; it’s a big build-up to going into the arena but we’re in a good position, and now it’s up to the two famous Brits to come out tomorrow and show what they can do!” he pointed out, referring to the remaining two British team members Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester.

And Sweden lies third going into the second day of action following a 74.224 for pathfinders Antonia Ramel with Brother de Jeu and 75.466 from Therese Nilshagen riding Dante Weltino OLD. This leaves Nilshagen in individual fourth spot behind Hughes, “but I’m not super-happy with my own ride today because I made a very big mistake in the one-tempis,” she said. “I think I must have done something wrong, and that cost us a lot of points and that’s a pity… but the rest was quite good and I hope that my team-mates will be much better than I was so we’ll see!” she added.

It’s still all very much to play for, with The Netherlands lying a close fourth ahead of Denmark in fifth, Portugal in sixth, Switzerland in seventh, Spain in eighth, and Russia in ninth place. And apart from the European medals up for grabs there is massive tension between the countries as yet not qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games who are battling for the three places on offer in this European team contest.

Chasing down those three spots are Denmark, Portugal, and Switzerland along with Ireland, France, Austria, Belgium, and Finland – the latter five nations holding 10th to 14th places on the team leaderboard going into the medal-deciding second half of the competition. A total of 15 nations started but the three-member side from Luxembourg are now out of contention after elimination for their pathfinder, Nicolas Wagner (Quater Back Junior).

Results here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

A Stellar Cast Chases Jumping Gold and Glory

Peder Fredricson. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

There’s a whole lot hanging in the balance as the Longines FEI Jumping European Championship 2019 gets underway in Rotterdam, The Netherlands next Wednesday (21 August). Not only will the best horse-and-rider combinations from all across Europe try to etch their names onto the prestigious Roll of Honour that dates all the way back to 1957. But the competition for the three Olympic qualifying spots up for grabs will also be ferocious, so it won’t all be about who stands on the top step of the podium.

Of course, when it comes to European gold, they all want it. And every two years when this event comes around then the ones they all have to beat are the Germans, because their record is just incredible. Germany has claimed the most team golds with a total of seven, and also tops the individual leaderboard with 14 victories. And with Christian Ahlmann, Daniel Deusser, Marcus Ehning, Maurice Tebbel, and the lady who took the individual title at last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, USA, Simone Blum, on call-up this time around, then the rest will have to be at the top of their game to keep them in check.

The very first FEI European Jumping Championship took place in Rotterdam, so we are returning to where it all began. Just 8 riders from 5 nations competed at that inaugural fixture in 1957, but a total of 70 athletes from 24 nations will line out in the 2019 edition, and 15 countries will be represented by teams.

The Irish are defending team champions, but few would deny that the Swedes, who finished second on their home turf in Gothenburg two years ago and who only lost out on gold at last year’s World Championships in a nail-biting jump-off against the clock, will be ones to watch this time around. They’re strong, they’re hungry, and they are on a roll, picking up a series of extraordinary wins in recent months thanks in no small part to sensational performances from Peder Fredricson, the man who brought individual European glory to his country in 2017. Fredricson spearheads an awesome Swedish side that includes Malin Baryard-Johnsson, Fredrik Jonsson, Henrik von Eckermann, and Evelina Tovek.

And the Swiss look a formidable force, Martin Fuchs and World No.1 Steve Guerdat, who took individual silver and bronze at last year’s World Championships, join Paul Estermann, Beat Mandli, and Niklaus Rutschi, and with their best horses in tow you just know they mean business.

It was a golden era for the Dutch when they swept all before them at Aachen (GER) in 2015, and Chef d’Equipe Rob Ehrens, who himself won team bronze in Munich in 1981, sends out Maikel van der Vleuten who was on that 2015 winning side along with Bart Bles, Marc Houtzager, Doron Kuipers, and Frank Schuttert.

The Irish won against the odds last time around when the team was reduced to just three riders in the closing stages. And Cian O’Connor, who clinched it on that memorable night before going on to take individual bronze, is joined by 2017 team-mate Shane Sweetnam, the on-fire Darragh Kenny, Paul O’Shea, and Peter Moloney.

However, the surprise package could well be the British. They’ve been in the doldrums for quite some time now but their winning performance in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ in Dublin last Friday was more than convincing. Chef d’Equipe, Di Lampard, has at last got a super-talented and totally committed pool of riders, and the emotional reaction from the relatively young but hardened veterans Scott Brash and Ben Maher who were on the last winning British side in Herning (DEN) six years ago said it all that day. There’s no doubt but that the British, team champions on five previous occasions, are back with a bang, and the side that will also include Amanda Derbyshire, Laura Renwick, and Holly Smith will be gunning for gold next week.

Ladies had their own Championship until 1973, and since they’ve been competing against their male counterparts, they have only twice broken the mould by taking the individual title. Alexandra Ledermann from France was the first to do it with the mighty Rochet M at Hickstead in 1999, and there has only been one other, Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum who topped the podium with the great Shutterfly in 2007 at Mannheim (GER). All eyes will be on the reigning World Champion, Simone Blum, to see if she can extend the short list of lady winners.

While gold is the goal for many, those three tantalising Olympic qualifying spots will also be a major focus. So far 14 nations have booked their tickets for Tokyo 2020 – Japan, USA, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, Australia, Ukraine, Israel, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, and China. Next week, however, 10 more teams will be trying to make the cut, because Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, and Spain also have their hopes and dreams, and none are prepared to give up without a serious fight.

The Jumping action gets underway on Wednesday and following two more days of competition on Thursday and Friday the team medals will be decided. Sunday’s finale is bound to be a thriller as the new Longines FEI Jumping European Champion will be crowned, and by then the road to Tokyo 2020 will be more clearly marked.

Event website here.

Full list of entries here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Can Dutch World Champions Make European History on Home Turf?

Team Netherlands. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhurst)

Rotterdam (NED) will host the Longines FEI European Championships for para dressage, the third to be held alongside Jumping and Dressage, from Wednesday 21 – Sunday 25 August. Some 66 riders from 21 countries will compete for medals. Who will be the riders and rivalries to look out for?

Great Britain and The Netherlands are set to renew their para dressage rivalry at the competition with The Netherlands clearly determined to add the European team title to the world title it famously won at last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon (USA). That was the first time in the history of the sport that Team GB lost the team competition at European, World, or Paralympic level and potentially represented a major power shift in the sport.

And with a home Europeans, the Dutch will be looking to replicate that achievement. The WEG winning team of Nicole Den Dulk (grade II), Rixt van der Horst (grade III), Sanne Voets (grade IV) , and Frank Hosmar (grade V) will enthrall the crowd, while Great Britain has chosen three new riders to join established team member, the European, World, and Paralympic champion Sophie Wells (grade V).

The team competition will also see a strong challenge from the likes of Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, and Norway too. It’ll be an exciting one to watch.

66 riders from 21 countries across five grades will compete for team and individual medals.

Ones to watch in each grade

Italy’s Sara Morganti will have high hopes of winning her first European titles in Rotterdam. Currently the world number one ranked rider across all five grades, she comes to the championships as a double WEG 2018 gold medallist. Latvia’s Rihard Snikus will be her main challenger, and also in the mix is likely to be Germany’s Elke Philipp and the Nordic trio of Jens Lasse Dokkan (NOR), Anita Johnsson (SWE) and Katja Karjalainen (FIN).

Grade II will likely see the continuation of the constant tussle for medals between Austria’s Pepo Puch and The Netherlands Nicole Den Dulk. The pair is part of a quarter of riders (the other two being Great Britain’s Sir Lee Pearson and Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup) who swap places on the podium regularly. Puch comes in as a double gold medallist from the 2013 and 15 Europeans, and the individual champion from 2017. He’ll be wanting the double again this year, but Den Dulk will be gunning for her first major international title too.

Great Britain’s Georgia Wilson could spoil the party though, having had a great run up to these competition, and Germany’s Heidemarie Dresing could also feature.

Rixt van der Horst will be the home favourite for the titles in grade III. She’s a triple gold WEG gold medallist from 2018 (and double gold from 2014) and double European Champion from 2015. As competition records go that should be enough. However, Denmark’s young superstar rider Tobias Thorning Joergensen is currently ranked number one in the grade, and he’ll be vying for his first major title having come so close on his debut two years ago. Joergensen’s teammate Caroline Cecilie Nielsen will push hard for a medal too, and look out for Belgium’s side saddle rider Barbara Minneci as well. She’s been on the verge of a podium finish for a long time.

Sanne Voets became the first non-British rider to ever win three gold medals at a single championship when she took the team, individual, and freestyle medals at last year’s WEG (compatriot Rixt van der Horst achieved the same, but later that same day). Voets is the para dressage ambassador at these Championships and rides for the home team in grade IV. She comes into the championships on the back of a stellar year so far which has seen her win a number of international competitions, and rack up personal best scores. Competition will come from Belgium’s Manon Claeys, currently third in the world for the grade, and Sweden’s Louise Etzner Jakobsson. All three of them shared the medals at the last Europeans and are likely to do the same again this year too.

In grade V Great Britain’s Sophie Wells and The Netherlands Frank Hosmar resume their Europeans rivalry. Wells was the double gold winner at the 2009, 11, and 13 Europeans before Hosmar took both titles in 2015. In 2017 Hosmar took the individual gold, and Wells the freestyle. The pair have the top two positions in the grade’s global ranking, but are closely followed by Russia’s Natalia Martyanova, who returns to European competition for the first time since 2015, where she was fourth in both individual competitions. Germany’s Regine Mispelkamp will make her European Championships debut in Rotterdam, doubtless hoping to make as impressive appearance as she did at her first world’s last year, where she picked up two bronze medals.

The competition starts on Wednesday 21 August with two days of individual competition. Then comes two days of team competition, with the best riders in each grade competing for the freestyle titles on Sunday 25 August.

Longines FEI European Championships 2019 website here.

Watch all the action live on FEI.tv.

By Rob Howell

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4

Triple Olympic Gold Medalist Hoy Snatches Lead with Bloom after Cross Country

Andrew Hoy with Bloom Des Hauts Crets. (FEI/Yusuke Nakanishi)

Australia’s triple Olympic team gold medalist Andrew Hoy galloped his way into the top spot with Bloom Des Hauts Crets after cross country, when rising heat and humidity provided a perfect environment to test the onsite cooling facilities for the equine and human athletes.

Sixth out onto Derek Di Grazia’s beautiful 20-fence course at Sea Forest overlooking the heart of Tokyo Bay, the seven-time Olympian and the eight-year-old Selle Français mare flew across the finish line with seven seconds to spare to take the early lead on a score of 27.7.

Hoy was thrilled to move to the top of the leaderboard. “It’s a very nice position to be in and if I win, I’m very happy for this year, but it’s next year I want to win! My horse galloped very well and her heart rate and temperature were very good when I arrived. The cooling facilities here at the venue were absolutely excellent. As an Olympic venue it’s ready one year before because the ground is excellent and the construction of the cross-country fences is very good, but next year will be very different fences.”

As the Australian combination were lying second after the Dressage phase, only overnight leaders Yoshiaki Oiwa and Bart L JRA could challenge them, but the home side star was 14 seconds down on the clock to collect 5.6 time faults and drop to fourth.

German superstar Michael Jung, another triple Olympic gold medalist and heading for Tokyo 2020 as the defending champion, was second last out on the track with the seven-year-old Fischerwild Wave. They too came home through the finish flags clear over the fences and on the clock to move up to second on 28.0.

“It was hot but it wasn’t really a big problem,” Michael Jung said afterwards. “The grooms and everyone took really good care of the horses and everyone tried to make the job for the horses and the riders as easy as possible. This is really fantastic here.”

Another pair for the host nation, Ryuzo Kitajima and Vick Du Gisors, were almost bang on the optimum time of five minutes 30 seconds to move up from fourth after the Dressage to third ahead of Oiwa and Bart, with compatriot Kazuma Tomoto fractionally behind in fifth on Tacoma d’Horset. Britain’s Georgie Spence and Halltown Harley round out the top six and, amazingly, there’s less than a fence between them and the leaders.

Seven of the 16 starters remain on their Dressage marks, while eight others collected just time faults. The only combination to pick up jumping penalties were cross country pathfinders Kazuya Otomo and Condorcet, who had a runout at the second element of the angled rails double at fence 10 to drop one place to 16th.

“All the horses recovered really well after the cross country, despite the challenging conditions, and they are all now back home in their air-conditioned stables at Baji Koen resting ready for tomorrow’s Jumping,” FEI Veterinary Director Goran Akerström said.

Ready Steady Tokyo test event (placings after cross-country) – 1, Australia’s Bloom Des Hauts Crets (Andrew Hoy), 27.7 penalties; 2, Germany’s Fischerwild Wave (Michael Jung), 28.0; 3, Japan’s Vick Du Gisors JRA (Ryuzo Kitajima), 28.2; 4, Japan’s Bart L JRA (Yoshiaki Oiwa), 30.1; 5, Japan’s Tacoma d’Horset (Kazuma Tomoto), 30.4; 6, Great Britain’s Halltown Harley (Georgie Spence), 30.6.

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 4

 

Home Side Hero Yoshiaki Oiwa Takes Early Lead at Ready Steady Tokyo Test Event

Yoshiaki Oiwa riding Bart L JRA. (FEI/Yusuke Nakanishi)

Japan’s Yoshiaki Oiwa is no stranger to success, having claimed double gold at last year’s Asian Games in Jakarta (INA), and the three-time Olympian has put down a strong marker for the home side by taking the early lead after the Dressage phase at the Ready Steady Tokyo test event.

Riding the talented Bart L JRA, previously ridden by Frenchman Matthieu Lemoine on the gold medal team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Oiwa earned top marks from all three judges to lead the field on a mark of 24.5. The 43-year-old has been based in Europe for almost 20 years, but his heart lies in Japan.

“I’m a home country rider and I’ve been based in Europe for the last 18, 19 years,” he said after his Dressage performance here at the Equestrian Park. “So many people are supporting and helping me, but they’ve never seen what I’m doing, so this is a very very good chance to show what I’m doing and what this sport is about. Hopefully we can do the best performance and all the Japanese people do their best and get medals.”

Among a star-studded cast, Australia’s triple Olympic team gold medalist Andrew Hoy is 3.2 penalties adrift in second with Bloom Des Hauts Crets, fractionally ahead of Germany’s double Olympic champion Michael Jung on Fischerwild Wave with 28.0.

The top five are all under 30 penalties, with Japan’s Ryuzo Kitajima and Vick Du Gisors JRA fourth on 28.2 and Germany’s Peter Thomsen with Horseware Nobleman fifth with 29.50.

Kuzuma Tomoto is another of the contingent flying the flag for Japan and he sits in sixth with Tacoma d’Horset on 30.4, a single point but three places ahead of his trainer, British legend William Fox-Pitt with Summer at Fernhill.

The Japanese athletes are increasingly a force to be reckoned with, finishing fourth and just out of the medals at last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon (USA). Looking ahead to Tokyo 2020, Tomoto commented: “Our team is really tough and has got strong quickly. We’re aiming to get a medal; that’s why we have to improve more and more. We have lots of nice riders so we can do it for sure.”

Final horse into the arena, GHS Calvaruise ridden by Kazuya (JPN), has now been withdrawn after placing last of the 17 starters in Dressage on 40.8. The rest of the horses have been transported to the stables at Sea Forest where they will spend the night before cross country.

Derek Di Grazia’s 3,025 metre track incorporates 20 fences with 31 jumping efforts, but the American designer is giving nothing away about his track for the 2020 Games. Even so, the 20 National Olympic and Paralympic Committees that are onsite for the official observers programme are making the most of the opportunity to see the terrain at Sea Forest and test the facilities at both venues.

On Wednesday, action returns to the equally stunning new facilities at Baji Koen, site of the Olympic equestrian events at the 1964 Tokyo Games, for Wednesday’s final Jumping phase.

The Baji Koen refurbishment has been funded independently by the Japan Racing Association and will provide an extraordinary legacy for the residents of Tokyo, as will the park that will be created on the reclaimed land at Sea Forest, which also hosts rowing and canoe sprint next year.

Ready Steady Tokyo equestrian test event (placings after Dressage): 1, Japan’s Bart L JRA (Yoshiaki Oiwa), 24.5; 2, Australia’s Bloom Des Hauts Crets (Andrew Hoy), 27.7; 3, Germany’s Fischerwild Wave (Michael Jung), 28.0; 4, Japan’s Vick Du Gisors JRA (Ryuzo Kitajima), 28.2; 5, Germany’s Horseware Nobleman (Peter Thomsen), 29.50; 6, Japan’s Tacoma d’Horset (Kuzuma Tomoto), 30.4.

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