Tag Archives: FEI

Few Surprises on Day 1 of Dressage in Exloo

Tracy Bowman with Albrecht’s Hoeve’s Lars. Copyright © FEI/Martin Dokoupil

It was a day that stuck to form – for most – as the Championships got underway at the Hippisch Centrum.  With near perfect conditions for the equines and athletes, who benefitted from the smooth surface in the sand arena, it was previous medallists who led the way.

The Grade I Para Drivers opened with the first two sessions.  Chrissy Aitken from Ohio, USA, driving a borrowed Dutch horse which she only met for the first time in early August, set the standard with a score of 52.56.  Representing the USA for the first time as an individual, it was good enough to put her into 3rd place ahead of Saturday’s marathon, which she is delighted about.  With the weight of expectation on him, Germany’s multi-medallist Heiner Lehrter had a brief satnav error, turning left instead of right during his test which pushed him down the order.  However, the German team, thanks to the showing of Patricia Großerichter, who finished the Grade I class in 2nd with 49.36, and Alexandra Röder, who rounded off the Grade II class in 1st with 48.96, ensured that the defending champions are sitting atop the leaderboard for the nations.

It was reigning Grade I champion, Tracy Bowman (USA), who on balance most impressed the five judges and went into 1st with 46.80.  Her trainer is none other than Bram Chardon and he briefly stepped into the FEI TV commentator’s box during Tracy’s near flawless test.  It was a treat to hear from him how thoroughly they prepared pony Lars, who had been ridden earlier in the day to warm up.  Nothing was taken for granted, despite the vast experience of both pony and athlete, a level of excellence which keeps them in strong contention for another gold medal.  Plus, it’s likely that Tracy and Bram will be the pairing to beat for the Hand-in-Hand trophy.

Although veteran Para Driver Bob Giles (USA) didn’t enjoy his best day with a borrowed Welsh pony, the experience of Grade II former medallist Diane Kastama paid off when she put down a solid test of 64.48 to help put the American team into second.  The Dutch are in third, the British in fourth, and Italy, with two drivers, are in fifth.

Opening the Four-in-hand European Championship event were 12 of the 39 athletes.  Staking their early claims to podium places were Germany’s Michael Brauchle, who tallied 50.91, and fellow marathon specialist Koos de Ronde (NED), who smiled broadly at the end of his smooth test to finish in 2nd overnight on 52.91 – both decent performances for team and individual placings.  Driving his bay Lusitanos, France’s Benjamin Aillaud is currently in 3rd with 56.84.

Afterwards, Brauchle said, “I was really happy with my horses, who made a good job of the test today.  The atmosphere was good and not too exciting for the horses, and it was great to have Boyd helping me as team trainer.”

by Sarah Dance


Olympic Champion Helps Germany Claim Belgian Leg of FEI Eventing Nations Cup

Libussa Lubbeke rides Caramia 34. Photo: FEI/Libby Law Photography

In a nail-biting cross-country finish, Germany claimed The FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ in Arville (BEL) by just 0.3 of a penalty over home side Belgium. Their victory was massively helped by a strong performance from Julia Krajewski, the individual gold medalist at the Tokyo Olympics. The 34-year-old was also the individual winner of the CCIO4* competition, after jumping a super double clear on her impressive nine-year-old Holsteiner stallion, Nickel 21. The Germans performed well as a team, leading throughout to achieve a score of 103.2, although four very strong and fast cross-country performances left the Belgians breathing down their necks with an overall score of 103.5. New Zealand presented an experienced team of riders, all of whom were established at 5*, to finish third on a score of 116.4.

Hans Melzer, chef d’equipe of the winning team, was delighted with the German performance, particularly after a year that has been somewhat up and down for German riders.

“This year, sometimes we were unlucky in Nations Cups and at Aachen, but this one was important, because we had three long-listed riders for the Europeans (Championships), which are all to go to Blenheim. It was good to show here, because it’s a hilly event and we don’t have so many of those in Germany, so it was good preparation for the rest of the season. What they showed today was very good cross-country riding.

“Julia (Krajewski) was with her younger horse, which was his third time at 4* and is a horse maybe for the future. He will go to the long (CCI4*-L) at Boekelo and the other three were all younger riders from our prospective group based in Warendorf, and it was good to see the younger ones competing here and really attacking.”

12 national teams from three continents came forward to compete at the Nations Cup in Arville, which is one of Belgium’s most prestigious equestrian events. The event as a whole attracted riders from as far afield as India, Morocco, and Australia. Melzer highlighted the significance of the Series and why the event had proved so popular with riders from all over the world.

“The Nations Cups are super events because every rider is proud to ride for their country.  It’s a good competition and especially here we have 12 nations, so it’s like a little championship. It’s really great with atmosphere and a super course. I think it’s important we keep these Nations Cups going the whole year in every country, because when you have enough riders, you can test riders in a team and the team order and everything that they learn being part of a team.

“It was a real four star. It’s not too big, but it was very technical with many questions and the country is really hilly. The second part of the course is up and down and up and down. We had 114 starters here which was unbelievable, but the facilities are super, we had good weather, the ground is perfect, so you could go and try to ride the time because there was no risk. It’s very good here in Arville.”

With the electors weighing up options for next year’s Olympics, events like these become more significant, and Melzer will continue to assess their performance as these German team riders will now head to Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials (GBR) in September. “I think Julia will have a definite Olympic chance, and the others are good enough when they have a good result here and then Blenheim ahead and there is a chance to put them on the long-list.”

When asked if the Germans can rise once again as the dominant eventing nation, he responded, “The Germans did very well at the FEI World Championships in Pratoni, and now the Brits are the strongest team in all ways. Our team must work everything at 100% and maybe we have a chance. It’s important to give the younger rider a good plan; that’s how they have a chance to come to the top and where they ride, how they train, with whom they train. We have our very good system in Germany since 2002 — our prospective group and three of our riders today came through this system. And in the past Julia Karajewski, Sandra Auffarth, and Frank Ostholt – they all came out of this group, and for the future, this is a good thing we have, as we train a group of riders always together and they get more experienced and more confident.”

The FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ action now moves to the final event of the Nations Cup Series, which will play out at Boekelo (NED) (4-8 October). The Belgians continue to lead the Series with 600 points overall.

Final scores from Arville can be found here: https://live.rechenstelle.de/2023/arville/nationcup03.html.

by Eleanore Kelly


British Breeze to Golden Glory Once Again

Team Great Britain. (FEI/Libby Law)

It was all about the British once more when the FEI Eventing European Championship 2023 drew to a close at Haras du Pin, France. At the last edition in Avenches (SUI) two years ago, they swept all before them, and again now they took not only the team title, but team-members Ros Canter (Lordships Graffalo) and Kitty King (Vendredi Biats) clinched individual gold and silver ahead of Germany’s Sandra Auffarth in bronze.

The team ranking established after a thrilling cross-country phase remained the same, with Germany standing on the second step of the podium ahead of the hosts from France during the medal ceremony.

In the final analysis, the British score of 103.9 left them well clear of their German rivals, who completed with 131.2, while the French took bronze on a score of 134.2. German chances had been compromised by the loss of their star performer Michael Jung, who was eliminated for an unlucky fall just a few fences from home with Fischerchipmunk FRH.

Team Ireland finished fourth, with Switzerland, Sweden, Belgium, and The Netherlands completing the line-up. A total of 56 combinations started in dressage on Thursday, but that was narrowed down to just 37 in the deciding jumping phase. For Belgium and The Netherlands, there was plenty to celebrate as they picked up the two qualifying spots on offer for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

This was Great Britain’s 24th team and 20th individual title in the 70-year history of this Championship.


The French team kept the pressure on Germany with clear rounds from both Karim Florent Laghouag (Triton Fontaine) and Nicolas Touzaint (Absolut Gold HDC), but Stephane Landois (Ride for Thais Chaman D) lost his grip on overnight individual fourth place with a fence down, and Gaspard Maksud (Zaragoza) also left one on the floor. With the German team reduced to just three, they had plenty to contend with, but while Malin Hansen-Hotopp (Carlitos Quidditch K) had a fence error and some additional time faults, both Christopher Wahler (Carjatan S) and Sandra Auffarth (Viamant du Matz) were foot-perfect over the track designed by Quentin Perney, which consisted of 12 fences and 15 jumping efforts.

Lying sixth in the individual rankings at the start of the day, that clear would promote Wahler to individual fourth place behind team-mate Auffarth, and ahead of the two French clear-round jumpers, Touzaint, who slotted into fifth, and Landois, who finished sixth.

Britain’s Kitty King had no room for a fence error if she was to hold Auffarth at bay for the silver medal as she went into the ring to jump the penultimate round of this Championship, but when she added only 1.2 time faults to her scoreline, she was secure for the second step of the individual podium. Then all eyes turned to Canter and Lordships Graffalo, the horse she calls Walter.

When dressage leader Jung went out of contention, she rose to pole position and she had more than two fences in hand as she set off. The first element of the double at fence four hit the floor, but she still completed with a 6.7 fault advantage over King to take the individual honours and to put the icing on the British team cake.


Talking about how she handled the weight of expectation, Canter said, “I had to keep in my own bubble a little bit, remind myself who I’m sat on and just try and do the best job I could in that situation.”

The team success means even more to her than her individual achievement. “For me the team always comes first, it’s what I do it for, it’s what I dream of doing!

“For me the team always comes first; it’s what I do it for; it’s what I dream of doing. Our family are sporty all-rounders and it’s always been about riding for Great Britain. After (winning) Badminton, that was such a massive box ticked for me and I didn’t think it could get much better! I’ve got Walter to thank for it all; he’s just unbelievable!” added the 37-year-old, who took team and individual gold at the world championship in 2018 and European team Gold in both 2017 and 2021.

Like Canter, King was on the winning British side at the 2021 European Championship, but she said she wasn’t expecting to feature so prominently this time around.

“I thought I’d be coming out here just to put a score on the board and be a good pathfinder, and that it would be up to the rest with their amazing horses. So to come home with a medal of any colour is a huge honour and achievement and I’m very, very proud of my horse! I’m delighted with silver – and Ros definitely deserves the gold!” she pointed out.

Germany’s Auffarth was quite happy with her individual bronze, but even happier that her team managed to take silver after losing their star player in Michael Jung. She said her chestnut gelding Viamant was a bit fired up by the enthusiastic crowd, but it also made him jump even better. “I’m very proud of him, and proud of my team and all the work we put in at our training camps.”


At the post-competition press conference, her Chef d’Equipe, Jens Adolphsen, said, “After Tokyo, everyone said the Brits are favourites for the next 50 years! But then it changed (when the German team won gold at the last year’s world championship) and now I hope it changes again!”

Paris 2024 is now in full focus for all the nations, and the relief for Belgium and The Netherlands with confirmation of their participation was enormous. It was particularly emotional for Dutch team member and coach, Andrew Heffernan.

“I had 20 years of competing and then I got the job as coach, because we needed to qualify for Paris, and with the support of all my riders, I came out of retirement and rode on the team. And thank God it has worked out – now I’m going straight back into retirement because the pressure this week from my perspective doing both jobs has been huge. This was what we needed to achieve, and we’ve done it!” he said, attempting to control an ocean of happy tears.

There was a question about gender balance in equestrian sport from the floor of the press conference, and FEI President and IOC member Ingmar de Vos, who had earlier thanked the show organisers, officials, and volunteers for making this FEI Eventing European Championship such a special occasion, pointed out that “we are the absolute champions of gender diversity because everyone has a chance in our sport!”

Indeed, everyone has a chance, but they’ll all be out to beat the British next summer, so when Ros Canter was asked if she expects to be the Paris 2024 Olympic champion, she replied, “The simple answer is: I hope so!”

For now, she can bask in the light of European golden glory.


by Louise Parkes


Brits Are Bossing It after Brilliant Cross-Country Day

Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo (FEI/Libby Law)

Team Great Britain’s mission to take their 24th team and 20th individual title is back on track after a thrilling cross-country day at the FEI Eventing European Championship 2023 at Haras du Pin in France.

They were already on top of the team leaderboard, but it was German star, Michael Jung, who was heading the individual standings at the end of the dressage phase.

On a roller-coaster of an afternoon, Jung was eliminated for an unlucky fall at the drop before the final water complex, and going into the closing jumping phase it is Britain’s Ros Canter and the horse with which she won Badminton 2023, Lordships Graffalo, who head the individual standings.


The pair was in a league of their own when storming around the recalibrated course with nine seconds to spare on a day when not one other combination managed to get home within the optimum time of 8 minutes 18 seconds. Lying second when the actions will resume is Canter’s team-mate Kitty King (Vendredi Biats), while Germany’s Sandra Auffarth (Viamant du Matz) is in third and Frenchman Stephane Landois (Ride for Thais Chaman Dumontceau) is in fourth place.

There were many changes to the individual leaderboard, but none as dramatic as that of Ireland’s Sarah Ennis who, lying 54th of the 56 competitors after dressage, has rocketed up to fifth with Grantstown Jackson going into the final day. Team silver medallist at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018, she had the unenviable task of going first on the cross-country track and, coming home in 8 minutes 24 seconds, gave the impression that the challenge was not as difficult as had been anticipated. As it turned out, on a day when three horse-and-rider combinations retired and eight were eliminated, she and her Irish-bred gelding were one of the very best when producing the second-fastest ride in this phase.


After a night of torrential rain, the Ground Jury made an early decision to shorten the track, dress the take-off areas of some fences, and to delay the start, originally scheduled for mid-day, to 14.00 hours. The loop of fences from 12 to 15 was removed, so horses went directly from the log-pile at eleven to the water complex at 17ab and 18, and there was an option at fence five.

It wasn’t just Pierre Le Goupil’s beautifully designed course that asked questions. The going, already challenged by over 250mm of rain in the last few weeks and further softened by the overnight downpour, tested strength and stamina.

British pathfinder King set her team up nicely when collecting just 3.6 time penalties, but there was a nervous moment when reigning world champions Yasmin Ingham and Banzai de Loir had a run-out at the last element of the coffin combination at fence 22. When Laura Collett’s line through the corner at fence 20 with London 52 went under review, there was further cause for concern. But in the end the pair were awarded just 9.2 time penalties and even before Canter set off, Team GB were already assured of the lead going into the closing day.


Canter gave an exhibition of cross-country riding, recovering quickly from a blip at fence two where a number of others also had an uneasy moment, to return with a fresh horse and a big smile.

“He’s very efficient, a very careful horse; he never balloons, he never goes green, so he always lands travelling which is very good. He’s extremely polite which is unusual – to have a horse that travels at his speed that is so responsive. So when he gallops, he gallops low, but when you sit up, he bunches up and his head comes up. It’s the best of both worlds. There aren’t many that gallop low and then don’t want to stay down there. Not many that have their heads up to jump but then want to gallop low. I think that’s where he’s just amazing. I’ve never sat on a horse like him that travels so efficiently and that is so rideable and so brave.

“He measures every jump; he reads every jump and seems to know how much he has to give everything. He makes my job easy because, hand on heart, I’m not normally the fastest rider!” said Canter afterwards.


Michael Jung’s freak fall late on the track dashed German chances of a closer contest going into the final day. His normally sure-footed gelding Fischerchipmunk FRH just didn’t seem to get his landing gear down in time and knuckled over on the slope at fence 24 to leave his rider with no chance of staying in the saddle.

Jung was stoic, however. “It was just unlucky; there was nothing anyone could do about it,” he said afterwards. That’s horse sport, as the double Olympic champion knows only too well.

Auffarth, Christoph Wahler (Carjatan S), and Malin Hansen-Hotopp (Carlitos Quidditch K) are left to fly the German flag, but there is a 27.3 penalty gap between them and the leading British, while the French foursome of Landois, Gaspard Maksud (Zaragoza), Nicolas Touzaint (Absolut Gold HDC), and Karim Florent Laghouag (Triton Fontaine) are only 0.2 penalty points behind in bronze medal position. Team Ireland lies fourth (136.4), the Swiss are in fifth (147.9), Belgium is in sixth place (166.2), Sweden in seventh (194.8), and The Netherlands lies eighth (212.2).

Both Team Italy and Team Austria dropped out of contention, so the battle for the two Olympic qualifying spots is already over and it is the Belgians and Dutch who are on their way to Paris 2024.

Result after Cross-Country

by Louise Parkes


Jung Takes Individual Lead; British Hold Five of Top Six Placings

Michael Jung rides Fischerchipmunk FRH. FEI/Libby Law Photography

German giant Michael Jung swaggered to the top of the individual standings with a superb performance from Fischerchipmunk FRH as the dressage phase drew to a close at the FEI Eventing European Championship 2023 at Haras du Pin (FRA).

As expected, the individual leaderboard got a good shake-up, but it was four of reigning world champion Yasmin Ingham’s British compatriots who ousted her from overnight pole position, before Jung overtook them all with a ride that earned a sensational leading score of 19.4 going into the cross-country challenge.

His advantage is narrow, with a whole tribe of Brits breathing down his neck. Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo are in second (21.3), Tom McEwen is in third (22.0), Laura Collett and London 52 are in fourth (22.4), while Ingham (23.4) has dropped to fifth, ahead of Tom Jackson and Capels Hollow Drift in sixth place (25.7).

The team classification shows the British out in front on a tally of 67.1, with Germany in second on 76.3 and Belgium in third on 90.9. Switzerland and The Netherlands share fourth place with 93.1 on the board, while France (94.4), Sweden (98.9), Italy (99.1), Austria (103.5), and Ireland (105.5) are lining up behind them.

None of the leading pack are feeling complacent about their results so far. All talk is about the challenge that will be presented by Pierre Le Goupil’s cross-country track.


McEwen was first to overtake Ingham. The world number two rider produced two big second-place results – at the CCIO4*-NC-L in Boekelo (NED) last October and at the CCI5*-L in Kentucky (USA) in April 2023 – with the 12-year-old JL Dublin since taking up the ride last year.

“He’s simply stunning on the flat!” he said. “He captures the eye, he swings through, and bar the tiniest few things, he was absolutely excellent. I was delighted; I thought the changes were a serious highlight and as per usual that extended trot – if we could do five more of those we’d be in the lead by a little way!” he pointed out.

Collett and London 52, Olympic team gold medallists in Tokyo and three-time 5* winners, then slotted in behind her compatriot, but Jung set a whole new target when third to go of the final tranche of competitors, and despite a powerful challenge from Canter, he couldn’t be budged from the top of the scoreboard.

Analysing his test, he said, “The highlight was definitely the entire canter-work. However, we lost some points in the walk which could be better. Overall, it was one of the best tests we’ve ever done!”

Over the moon

Canter said she was “over the moon with Walter” – Lordships Graffalo’s stable name. “It’s been a long wait for me this last two days… when I got on today, I felt better that I had a job to do at last! Looking back at old videos of Walter in the spring building up to Badminton, I can’t believe how much he has come on since then; he’s truly an amazing horse and I’m very lucky to have him!”

All the riders know that their dressage scores may pale to insignificance, because the cross-country track cannot be underestimated. Jung described it as “big but fair,” adding that “every question needs to be clearly understood by the horses.”

McEwen said, “I think they’ve built a beautiful track – not what I was expecting, but a stunning track, but you have to be on it the whole way around, stay on your game, feel where you’re going, and judge where you are at.”

Very big

Collett said, “Dimensionally, it’s very big; there’s no real let-up for the horses energy-wise, and of course, the ground is going to play a massive part. (The weather) is probably not what we were all expecting going to France. You are going to have to be on your A-game; the first water is a serious test and it comes very early.”

And it has been raining.

Canter said, “The weather and the ground is something we the Brits have had to cope with a lot this year… we’ve ridden on this going so many times, that hopefully we can stay in our bubble and concentrate on our job. The first water is a very big drop in, so it will be interesting to see how they read that. I think it’s more the undulations, the twists, and the turns that are going to create the challenges at the jumps.”

German team member Sandra Auffart is lying individually eleventh after scoring 28.6 with Viamant du Matz. If there is anyone who knows about riding the cross-country track at Haras du Pin in less than ideal conditions, it is the multi-medalled three-time Olympian who took double-gold here at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2014 with Opgun Luovo. She is not intimidated by the challenge of the cross-country track.

When asked if there was any comparison to the course she tackled so successfully nine years ago, she replied, “Yes, it’s a bit similar here and there, with the last water and again the last hill. I remember every bit of the cross-country from 2014, so I think that’s a little advantage! The first water is also a bit similar, with a drop down the curved line to the skinny one in the water. It’s a tough question at the beginning, but the course is interesting and it’s very exciting!”

Result after Dressage: https://results.worldsporttiming.com/event/162.

by Louise Parkes


Results from FEI European Championships for Ponies in Jumping, Dressage, Eventing in Le Mans

Individual Medals: GOLD: GER-Nell Röming and Marlon 192. SILVER: Sina Brügger and Next Generation. BRONZE: Marlene Hayessen and Betty Boo 14. FEI European Championships for Ponies | Eventing. Photo: FEI / Libby Law

Outstanding performances by German athletes in the Dressage and Eventing competitions, earning 5 out of 5 golds, and Ireland taking top spots in both Team and Individual Jumping at the FEI European Championships for Ponies in Jumping, Dressage, and Eventing 2023 held in Le Mans (FRA).

Jumping Individual Podium
1° Paddy Reape (IRE) & Fernando
2° Ellen Hammarström (SWE) & Ocean des As
3° Kian Dore (IRL) & Sparkling Lackaghmore Joey

Jumping Team Podium
1° Ireland
2° Sweden
3° Great Britain

Dressage Individual Podium
1° Lilly Marie Collin (GER) & Cosmo Callidus NRW
2° Julie Sophie Schmitz-Heinen (GER) & Chilli Morning WE
3° Liezel Everars (BEL) & FS Capelli de Niro

Dressage Individual Freestyle Podium
1° Lilly Marie Collin (GER) & Cosmo Callidus NRW
2° Liezel Everars (BEL) & FS Capelli de Niro
3° Maria Theresa Pohl (GER) & Der Kleine Sunnyboy WE

Dressage Team Podium
1° Germany
2° Denmark
3° Belgium

Eventing Individual Podium
1° Nell Röming (GER) & Marlon 192
2° Sina Brügger (GER) & Next Generation
3° Marlene Hayessen (GER) & Betty Boo 14

Eventing Team Podium
1° Germany
2° France
3° Ireland

Check the full results here.


Momentous Triple Vaulting Championships Promise a Thrilling Week

Averill Saunders at the Burlington Capital FEI Vaulting World Cup Final 2023 in Omaha (USA) – FEI / Richard Juilliart

Excitement is building until the largest Vaulting Championships in history takes place in Flyinge (SWE).  The FEI Vaulting European Championship will be held in combination with the FEI World Championship for Juniors and the premiere of the FEI World Championship for Young Vaulters. Hosting the three Championships is a challenge embraced by the Swedish hosts and much anticipated by the athletes and spectators, with 26 nations and 135 horses expected to present themselves to the Ground Jury.

The first medals will be awarded to the Senior athletes on Friday, 28 July. In the hotly contested Female class, Switzerland has a strong showing with Ilona Hannich, Danielle Bürgi, and Nadja Büttiker. Bürgi, who has had an excellent season showing her calibre on multiple horses, finished second at the FEI Vaulting World Cup™ in Omaha (USA) and the CVI3* in Bern (SUI), and won the CVI** Masterclass in Wiesbaden (GER). Büttiker has a wealth of experience and Hannich has significantly increased her level as evidenced by her fourth-place finish at the CHIO Aachen (GER) in June 2023.

Austria’s Eva Nagiller will be aiming for a podium finish, after a disappointing run at the FEI Vaulting World Championship in Herning (DEN) in 2022 due to her horse becoming unsettled.

It is a family affair for Germany, as each athlete will be lunged by their parent. Kathrin Meyer, winner of the FEI Vaulting World Cup™ in Omaha in 2023 and more recently champion of CHIO Aachen, has had an almost perfect season. She will start the event as the favourite and will be lunged by her mum Sonja. Much of her competition comes from 2022 FEI Vaulting World Championship silver medallist Julia Sophie Wagner, also lunged by her mother Katja, and Alina Ross, who is striving for her first senior medal alongside her father Volker.

The family theme continues with the Brüsewitz Brüder (Brüsewitz brothers) trio, the Male contingent from Germany, comprising Viktor, Thomas, and honorary brother Jannik Heiland. While they have a plethora of medals, a senior gold medal has been elusive.

The biggest title challenge comes from the youngest contender, Frenchman and current Vice-World Champion Quentin Jabet. The 20-year-old vaults with such precision and grace that he will be hard to beat. Fellow countryman Theo Gardies also has a unique style and ability worthy of championship glory. It is a narrow but strong field with multiple highly decorated athletes, which will make for a tight and exciting battle.

Vaulting aficionados will be looking to see if Germany can remain dominant in the sport despite filling only one of their two Pas-de-Deux spaces. Diana Harwardt and Peter Künne have the nation’s hopes on their shoulders. As silver medallists at the FEI Vaulting World Championships in Herning (DEN) in 2022, there is high expectations for them to pick up the torch passed from retired teammates 2022 FEI World Champions Chiara Congia and Justin van Gerven.

Bronze medallists at the 2022 FEI Vaulting World Championship, Rebecca Greggio and Davide Zanella, will endeavour to turn the tables and bring gold home for Italy.  Both couples will face stiff competition from Switzerland and Austria. Ilona Hannich competing together with Li Laffer for Switzerland will be going after their first Championship bid, while Austrians Eva Nagiller and Romana Hintner will try to replicate or improve on their 2019 FEI European Championship bronze medal finish.

Germany’s Team Norka is on course to take the top step of the Squad podium again, and although they are in a different composition to the last few years, they have had a solid season.  Their biggest rivals are the Swiss, whom they have defeated twice this year. The third podium step is where it might get interesting, as the lack of an Austrian entry throws the floor open. The Swedish have the home advantage and they have been working hard towards this goal for a long time. Nordic rivals, Denmark, has seen medal success in recent years and will ride that wave to aim for further glory.  However, the Netherlands could ruin it for them both, as their squad has been quietly progressing and has an equal opportunity to steal the third position.

The final competition of the event will be the Official Team. One squad and two individuals from each country will combine to be crowned European Champions. Much like the Squad competition, and sadly due to the absence of a French and Austrian Squad, it looks to be a fight for the top between Germany and Switzerland. Germany has something to prove after missing out on an Official Team medal at the 2022 FEI World Championships, proving that even the best can falter under pressure. There will certainly be pressure for the Netherlands, Sweden, and 2022 vice-World Champions Denmark, as the podium lies tantalisingly close.

FEI Vaulting World Championship for Juniors

The FEI Vaulting World Championships for Juniors has an exceptional number of Female entries. A record fifty-six have declared, including Polina Shovkova and Kateryna Panasenko, Ukraine’s first representatives at a Vaulting Championship.  They will take to the circle aboard Filon, lunged by Kevine Moneuse (FRA).  Historically the World Junior Female title is reserved for Austria, and Clara Ludwiczek, Antonia Mayerhofer, and Katharina Feldhofer will try to keep up the tradition.  Switzerland offers three strong contenders, Leonie Linsbichler, Mara Hofer, Noemi Licci, and the quality presented by Germany is just as high with Mia Kluge, Mirja Luise Krohne, and Laura Seemüller.

It is not only these heavyweight nations who hold Europe’s medal chances. Oceane Gehan brings high hopes for France, while Giorgia Varisco could claim her place in history for Italy. Nora Sandberg Müller is the top choice for the home nation. Of course, the title could head across the pond with Hannah Wildermuth (USA), who has had an excellent season but has not yet met the full might of European talent. The quality of participants is undoubtedly high, and success will go to those who manage the pressure of high-level competition, both mentally and physically. Of course, the calibre and composure of the horses and lungers may be the deciding factor.

Dutch Junior Male World Champion Sam dos Santos returns to defend his title after competing at the Senior Championship in Herning (DEN) in 2022. Since his victory at the FEI World Championships for Juniors in Le Mans (FRA) in 2021, he has proven himself at a level to take on and prevail over many of the top Senior Men. Triumph is not inevitable as there are other high-grade juniors out to take his title. The bronze medallist at the FEI Vaulting European Championship for Juniors in Kaposvar (HUN) in 2022, Arnee Heers, is the front runner for Germany, and his young teammate Lukas Heitmann might also manage a medal at his first major Championship. Synonymous with excellence in Male vaulting, France has two hopefuls: Baptiste Terrier and Louis Dumont.  Each must show exceptional rounds if they are to win the class for France for the first time.

Out to make history for his country, Jakub Roguski could become the first decorated Polish vaulter.  He finished sixth at the 2022 FEI European Championships for Juniors and has been producing quality performances this season. Other notable performers to look out for are Andrej Menhert of Slovakia and Switzerland’s Romain Simonet.

The Junior Pas-de-Deux class is the essence of girl power as every combination is a female partnership.  As in the senior category, Germany has elected to only present one pair: Lisa Marie Wagner and Timea Bonekat.  Austrians Anja Huber and Katharina Feldhofer could upgrade their 2022 European bronze medal but will have to fend off team-mates Sarah Victoria Köck and Clara Dick, as well as Italy’s Giorgia Varisco and Greta Gemignani, who are on course for a first Junior medal.

It is gratifying to see the increasing number of nations participating in the Championships. This year both Brazil and Canada will premiere a Junior Squad. Fierce competition awaits in the form of European Champions Switzerland. They will present the same 2022 victorious squad, albeit on a different horse – Lagrima.  They too will have to stave off competition from formidable squads from Italy, Germany, and Austria.

FEI World Championship for Young Vaulters

The Young Vaulter class was established in 2022 to bridge the gap between Junior and Senior level. The format is mainly the same as the Senior competition although the athletes, aged 16-21, perform only three of the five obligatory exercises within their Technical Test. A hugely successful 2022 FEI European Championship in Kaposvar (HUN) has led to a positive uptake in participants, with the prize to become the maiden World Champion, an alluring prospect.

Joint favourites in the Female category are current European Champion from Germany Alice Layher, with her medal winning combination and Averill Saunders, who is on the hunt for Canada’s first Vaulting medal.  Saunders has a strong chance of achieving that dream if she can control her mind and remain free of the heel injury which hampered the middle of her season.  Switzerland’s Michelle Brügger and Alicia Bärtschi will be pushing their nation towards the top of the table, alongside 2022 Junior European Champion Anna Weidenauer (AUT), who has moved into the higher age bracket this year.

Determination and dedication come in the form of Caroline Morse (USA), who has flown over her own horse Grasshopper AF for the best chance of success. Desiring to be the one to bring home honours for her country, compatriot Melanie Ford has teamed up with a German combination San Felice Z and Christina Ender. The youngest competitor at 17 years old is Italy’s Giada Samiolo, not that you could tell from her string of good results this year. Alongside Giorgia Fanucci, either would be worthy to stand on the rostrum for Italy.

Ruben Delauney (FRA), the 2022 FEI Male European Champion for Young Vaulters, has now progressed into the Senior category which leaves the title space open. Inevitably, it will be Austria versus Germany in a tussle for the top. 2022 Silver and Bronze medallists, Philip Clement and Fabian Lipp, will try to better their results for Austria, while 2022 FEI Junior European Champion Bela Lehnen (GER) has been in superb form, and is joined by Philip Goroncy and Jonathon Geib, each looking for German glory.

It will be an action-packed week of Vaulting, with quality horses, incredible skills, and a rollercoaster of emotions. The culmination of years of preparation and teamwork, it all comes down to mental toughness, steadfast horses, and a little bit of luck. History will be made once again as we eagerly anticipate the crowning of new champions.

by Joanne Littlejohn


France Takes FEI Eventing Nations Cup Honours on Home Turf

Gwendolen Fer (FRA) riding Romantic Love – FEI/Libby Law Photography.

The home side dominated the French leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ from beginning until end. Their overall score of 101.5 put them well ahead of Belgium, who completed on 142.8. Third place went to Great Britain who finished on 149.9.

This was the fifth leg of this popular series which took place for the first time at Haras de Jardy, Normandy and attracted nine European nations as well as Australia. The victorious French team was made up of experienced team members Maxime Livio and Gwendolyn Fer, together with up-and-coming talent, Julie Simone and Camille Lejeune. All four riders performed well enough to put them inside the top ten with Livio winning the CCIO4*-NC individually on the impressive grey, Api Du Libaire, and Lejeune finishing in second place aboard Dame Decoeur Tardonne.

Speaking after the event, the triumphant Livio summed up the result for his team and his own performance with his Selle Francais gelding. “It’s always a great feeling to have such a win, especially when we are in France for the French team. I am very pleased especially for this horse because he has come back at the high level just this week and he concluded with a win and I am so happy. It was his first big show of the season, so the pressure was a little higher. It is always a pleasure to ride at Jardy because it’s a nice place for the horses, and it was a pleasure to come back with one of my top horses and I was pleased. I really appreciated his mentality because he was really connected with me.”

With world-renowned course designer Pierre Michelet in charge of the cross-country, riders knew they would face a tough test. The French designer has designed a number of championship courses, including the Rio Olympics, the 2014 FEI World Championships in Haras du Pin, and Pau CCI 5*. Whilst France led throughout, the cross-country course shook up the order beneath that. Germany, who was second behind France after the first phase, had only one rider complete the competition and therefore finished in 10th, the bottom of the table.

Camille Lejeune commented on the severity of the cross-country course, which proved to be particularly influential and saw a number of eliminations, retirements, and both jumping and time faults throughout the day. “That was the first time for the Nations Cup in Jardy. It was a very tough course, very twisty, lots of fences and a lot of jumps. Something like 40 jumps in six minutes 38, so it was a very quick race. Everything was great with my horse.”

Livio was happy to be riding a more experienced horse on the cross-country. “The course was technical, with many combinations and big angles and different striding with many choices for the riders, but my horse is very experienced, so I was quite confident. The time here is always difficult, so I decided to go for the time at the beginning of the course and then just feel my horse. From beginning to end, he was very motivated and focused on each fence, so he finished inside the time and I think he enjoyed a lot, the course.”

The sixth leg of the Nations Cup plays out in Avenches (Switzerland), which takes place from 20-23 July. The Series will conclude at Boekelo (NED) from 4-8 October, where the final Paris Olympics team place will be awarded to the highest place nation not already qualified. Belgium, who is one of those nations looking for a place in Paris, continue to lead the series on 440 points. They have targeted the Nations Cup for the purpose of helping their chance of qualification, and have sent a team to everyone so far.


by Eleanore Kelly


Germany Prevails in Battle of Champions at Aachen

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER) riding TSF Dalera BB (© FEI/Stefan Lafrentz)

The podium looked nearly identical in the FEI Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special as Germany, Denmark, and Great Britain battled for top honors in the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ at Aachen (GER), and as the start list reached its end in the Special, only the top two athletes in the FEI Dressage World Ranking remained — Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER) and Charlotte Fry (GBR).

The reigning individual Olympic and FEI Dressage World Cup™ Champions, von Bredow-Werndl and DSF Dalera BB took their second victory of the week Saturday at the World Equestrian Festival, receiving 81.021% in the Special to go along with a Grand Prix win Thursday (82.304%). Those scores clinched a fourth Nations Cup victory of the 2023 season for Germany.

Led by von Bredow-Werndl, Isabell Werth (DSP Quantaz), Frederic Wandres (Bluetooth OLD), and Sönke Rothenberger (Fendi), Germany’s winning total was 468.285 points, the sum of the team’s top three scores in both tests. Denmark finished second with 460.097 points, followed by Great Britain (459.756 points).

“For me, it is not as much about winning, but instead about the development. It still feels like there is room for improvement. [TSF Dalera BB] felt so, so good,” said von Bredow-Werndl.

The Grand Prix Special was particularly impressive for Germany, who did not have a rider finish outside of the top 10. For Rothenberger, the test was especially meaningful, as he and his 9-year-old stallion Fendi improved their score by nearly five percentage points after having some tense moments in the Grand Prix.

“In preparation for the [Grand Prix], I had a really good feeling. He was super training in the main arena, and I underestimated the atmosphere [during competition],” Rothenberger said. “I don’t have a spooky horse, but I could feel he was getting quite tense, and I couldn’t support him how I would have liked to support him.”

“It took two and a half days in between [the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special] to give him security in the arena. That was my main goal, and I’m really happy with the confidence we could give him. This was the third Special [Fendi] has ever done, and I’m really happy with how well I could get him back on my side. I’m really proud of him,” said Rothenberger.

Ultimately, consistency was the deciding factor when it came to separating the world’s top combinations. Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin (Imhotep) and Charlotte Fry (Everdale) were repeatedly on von Bredow-Werndl’s heels, but Wandres and Werth were never far behind, either.

“It’s always a good thing when you can show consistency, especially in team competition and especially with Bluetooth OLD. In the Grand Prix, he had a very harmonious and exceptional round,” Wandres said. “The feeling we started with [in the Special] in the extended trot to passage, forward and backward, he felt so amazing. I’m proud of him to shine in an arena like that.”

Germany extended its lead in the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ standings with 56 points. Sweden sits second with 32 points, followed by Denmark with 28 points.

The 2023 FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ season concludes at Falsterbo (SWE) on 16 July 2023.


by Catie Staszak


Strong Squad Delivers Decisive FEI Eventing Nations Cup Victory for New Zealand

Tim Price (NZL) riding Falco. Photo Copyright: ©FEI/Libby Law Photography

Team New Zealand are setting themselves up to be strong contenders for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games next year, and results at Millstreet further reinforced that. An experienced quartet led from start to finish at the Irish event, to leave them on an impressive final score of 114.6. This is one of the best team finishing scores seen in this popular eight-leg series in recent years, perhaps unsurprising given World number one and two riders Tim and Jonelle Price made up half of the team. They were joined by the experienced Clarke Johnstone and rising star, Samantha Lissington. Team Belgium were runners-up on 131.9, whilst Ireland delighted their home crowd by finishing third in what was a fierce competition.

The cross-country course proved the make or break of many combinations and teams and making the time was suitably challenging, with no riders finishing inside. Tim Price won the class overall on Falco, the horse that also gave him an individual and team bronze in Pratoni. His wife Jonelle also played her part on the ‘pocket rocket’ McClaren. The Prices, joined by Clarke Johnstone, were all members of the bronze-medal winning team at last year’s FEI Eventing World Championship in Pratoni del Vivaro (ITA).  All three riders were mounted on experienced horses who continued their reliable form by jumping double clears in the Jumping and cross-country phases. They were joined by Samantha Lissington, who was the drop score after picking up 20 penalties for a refusal on the cross-country phase.

Chef d’Equipe of the New Zealand Team is former Olympic Eventing rider Sam Griffiths, who summed up the result. “We are really proud of their performance. Because New Zealand doesn’t have the equivalent of a European Championship, we decided that we wanted to target a couple of Nations Cups, of which Millstreet is one, so we sent a strong contingent. It’s really good to bring the group together and practice what we need to do. We will also be hoping to do well at Aachen. It’s always really good to target an event and then deliver a really good result at that event, so we are really pleased.”

Riders were full of praise for the event and cross-country phase which was designed by Mike Etherington-Smith. “One of the reasons why we targeted Millstreet is that we know how beautiful the venue is. The Duggan family takes amazing care of it. We love Mike Etherington-Smith’s courses. They are always beautifully presented and even with the going being fast, time was incredibly difficult even with experienced combinations going pretty much as fast as they could,” said Griffiths.

Tim Price was delighted with his horse Falco, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding.

“Falco is a cracking horse; he’s established now and his intelligence is being used for the good of everyone. I was really proud of him, he’s such a cool wee horse,” said Price.

“We took this seriously because the New Zealand team were using Millstreet as a marker point for the powers that be back at home. It was important that we delivered a decent result and showed that we were on track this year and through to Paris, so we treated it as such and all brought good horses onto the team. The time was very tight (on the cross-country) so it felt like a proper test.”

The Kiwis have had mixed success at major team championships in recent years, but Griffiths believes they have a great and long-lasting future ahead, with Millstreet highlighting that. “We had incredibly strong performances from Clarke Johstone and Jonelle, so we were really solid. We are really starting to grow some strength and depth. At Millstreet we had 19 combinations competing and, for a country that is on the other side of the world, that shows it is really developing.”

The Belgian team, who finished in second place, also delivered some solid jumping performances. Tine Magnus, Belgian team member spoke for the team: “We’re going for the Olympic qualification, so we’ll be off to Strzegom next – and we’re going to win! Millstreet is a wonderful place. The cross-country was great to ride; we’re not used to such lovely big galloping tracks.”

FEI Eventing Director Catrin Norinder was also present at the event, and said: “We’d like to thank Millstreet and the Duggan family for putting on such a great FEI Eventing Nations Cup™. The surroundings and cross-country course are amazing. It was truly competitive and a unique opportunity to get so many nations together.”

This FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ series is of particular significance to some nations this year, as the highest-placed team according to the final team classification of the 2023 Series, excluding teams/NOCs already qualified, will be allocated a place for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

This was the third leg of the Series which will now move to Strzegom (POL) which runs from 21-25 June. The Belgians lead the Nations Cup Series at this early stage, with 270 points scored, after winning the opening event in Montelibretti last month to add to their second place.


by Eleanore Kelly