Tag Archives: FEI

Swail Sweeps Up a Longines Win at Langley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

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

Fairytale Finish as Sweden’s Fredricson Wins Jumping Title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

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

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

Werth Wins Ferocious Battle for Dressage Freestyle Gold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

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

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

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

Photo: IJsbrand Chardon. (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Luke Norman

FEI Media Contacts:

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

All Eyes Turn to ‘Once in a Lifetime Marathon’ after Enthralling First Day of Driving

Photo: Theo Timmerman (NED) (FEI/Claes Jakobsson)

The stage is set for a titanic battle with driving’s biggest names nestled together on a tightly-packed leaderboard after day one of the Longines FEI European Championships 2017 in Gothenburg (SWE).

It will be the orange men of the Netherlands who move on from the dressage to the marathon test in the best spirits, after claiming the top two individual spots and finishing more than seven points clear in the team competition on a score of 85.83.

But Germany, under the temporary tutelage of world number one Boyd Exell (AUS), showed a marked overall improvement in dressage, getting all three of their team into the top seven individual positions. They currently lie second in the team standings.

Meanwhile, rising star Edouard Simonet (BEL) laid down a strong marker as he moved into individual third to steer Team Belgium into a temporary hold on bronze, a slender 2.54 penalties adrift of the Germans.

It is Theo Timmerman (NED) though who tops the individual placings after producing a flawless dressage display in front of the biggest crowd of the week at the Heden Arena. “The feeling was good; I did every figure, every transition perfectly,” he said.

The 52-year-old’s score of 41.82 placed him just ahead of compatriot Ijsbrand Chardon (NED), who revealed he’d been forced to change his best two horses following July’s FEI World Cup™ competition in Aachen (GER).

An exuberant Timmerman shared an interesting take on just why the Dutch have dominated the team aspect of this event for the past decade.

“It sounds stupid as we are a team, but we don’t work together. We all do our own thing, we know each other, we do the course walk together, but training-wise and driving-wise Koos (de Ronde) does his thing, Ijsbrand (Chardon) does his thing and I do my thing and we don’t bother each other.” — Overnight leader Theo Timmerman (NED)

The Germans, who take a different attitude to team building, spent the early part of the week in a training camp at the farm of team member Mareike Harm under the watchful eye of Exell. It too seems to be working.

“The 2012 World Championships was the last time I was under 50,” said Georg von Stein, who is running two of Exell’s horses in his team. “I was calmer with the support of Boyd (Exell), all his experience and the training we did. It felt easier with his horses.”

Von Stein starts the marathon course seventh overall, three places behind teammate Harm. With specialist marathon driver Christoph Sandmann (GER) lying fifth, the 2015 European Championship silver medallists will fancy going one better here.

The young guns from Belgium will no doubt have something to say about that though. Simonet led the charge in the morning, finishing with his best dressage score for two years.

“To be at or near my best at a Championship is good. I was up at 5.30am and in the practice arena at 6.30am. It was worth it!” — Edouard Simonet (BEL) in third after dressage

Exell, the 27-year-old’s coach and mentor, noted that the next two days are a “big opportunity” for his charge, who scored 45.42.

As soon as each driver stepped off his or her carriage, thoughts turned to the marathon test. Event leader Timmerman neatly summed up the drivers’ thoughts as they contemplated flying through Gothenburg’s city centre and into the Slottsskogen Park for the obstacles test.

“This is something special; once or twice in your life you have something like this. They had it in Stockholm in ‘88, it was great, and they do it again in Sweden. You don’t find it anywhere else where they do it like this. I can’t wait to see how many people will be there.” — Theo Timmerman (NED) on why the Slottsskogen marathon will be so special

By Luke Norman

FEI Media Contacts:

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

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

Double-Gold for Werth and Weihegold as They Win Dressage Grand Prix Special

Photo: Germany’s Sonke Rothenberger (silver) and Isabell Werth (gold), along with Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour (bronze) (FEI/Richard Juillart)

Germany’s Isabell Werth (45) and her lovely mare Weihegold waltzed their way to gold in the Grand Prix Special at the Longines FEI European Championships 2017 in Gothenburg, Sweden. But the doyenne of world Dressage was chased to the line by compatriot, Sonke Rothenberger (22), who joined her on the top step of the team podium, while Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour (25) produced a brilliant performance to claim bronze.

This was Werth’s third FEI European Championships Grand Prix Special title, her first claimed with Gigolo when the Special was introduced at Donaueschingen (GER) in 1991 and the next three years later in Lipica (SLO). Team-mate Rothenberger joked afterwards that his age combined with Dufour’s matched Werth’s, but youth had to wait for its day once again as the most medalled athlete in the history of international equestrian sport reigned supreme once more.

“Weihe is in the best form ever! It was a clear test without mistakes and with a lot of precision, so I’m completely happy. For me the challenge was to take enough risk but not too much because I knew the rest behind me want to make me angry!” — Isabell Werth GER

Weihe translates from German as “ordains”, and so far this week that is exactly what the super mare and her extraordinary rider have done, dictating the destination of team gold with the only over-80% score two days ago and putting the biggest mark of 82.613 on the board. But Rothenberger took silver with 82.479 and looks a serious future threat. “I watch the best riders and I steal with my eyes!” he said earlier in the week. It looks like it won’t be long before he’ll be stealing their limelight too. He’s confident and ambitious, and rightly so.

“I know my horse (Cosmo) can do it, and I never doubted from the first day I sat on him that he could beat anybody if things work out the way I would want, but it’s always a different story to bring it on the day, which is what Isabell is so good at… doing it on the day, on the spot when you need it and that’s what we try to work on, and that’s what we train for every day. We are getting closer and closer, but we are not quite there yet!” — Sonke Rothenberger GER

Dufour, meanwhile, is also in sparkling form with the 14-year-old Atterupgaards Cassidy who has been with her through “a journey from Juniors seven years ago”. Posting 79.762 she pinned Sweden’s Therese Nilshagen (34) into fourth with the stallion Dante Weltino, who like Rothenberger’s Cosmo is an exceptional talent at just 10 years old, and who earned a mark of 78.585 for an exquisitely elegant test.

Sonke Rothenberger GER (silver), talking about talking about his family and his relationship with his horse: “We can’t think of a life without horses! I always thought when you have a jumping horse and you jump a 1.60m obstacle you get goosebumps and the feeling of being on a roller-coaster that you can’t have that on a dressage horse – until I sat on Cosmo, and then I realised he gives me that feeling as well!”

Francis Verbeek van Rooy (NED), Judge at C: “It’s very exciting; the other two (Rothenberger and Dufour) are so young and they are the future of our sport – there are now so many young people on top level world-wide.”

By Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

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

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

Irish Overcome the Odds to Win Jumping Team Gold

L to R: Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa, Shane Sweetnam, Denis Lynch, Bertram Allen and Cian O’Connor. (FEI/Claes Jakobsson)

Host nation Sweden take silver and Switzerland scoop the bronze

It was Jumping team gold for Ireland at the Longines FEI European Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden where Shane Sweetnam (36), Denis Lynch (41) and Cian O’Connor (37) clinched victory with three superb clear rounds.

Fourth team member Bertram Allen (22) helped out on the sidelines after withdrawing from the competition following a fall from his grey stallion Hector van d’Abdijhoeve, but he joined Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa on the medal podium as Ireland took the title for only the second time in the 60-year history of these Championships, their previous success recorded at Arnhem (NED) in 2001. Sweden claimed silver and Switzerland took bronze.

Tension was at boiling point as the action began under the bright lights of Ullevi Stadium, with the host nation in pole position ahead of Switzerland while Ireland and Belgium were tied for bronze. But on a night when the going got tough, over a long and testing 14-fence track, the tough really got going and the boys in green were the only side to keep a completely clean sheet. It was never a given. The loss of Allen and his brilliant stallion put them under extreme pressure, but as anchor rider Cian O’Connor (Good Luck) explained, they were never going to give up without a fight.

“We spoke with Rodrigo about it last night; we thought the lights might work to our advantage, be a bit spooky and might catch out some horses. Our three stallions are all very brave and scopey, and the lights nearly helped them. We were quietly confident that we could do the business, and obviously Shane (Chaqui Z) had a really tough job going first… I was outside warming up when Denis (All Star) jumped clear and I thought, ‘I have to match that now!’ I don’t even remember the round; it was all kind of a blur. But I do remember going through the finish!” — Cian O’Connor IRL

The Swedes lost their grip on the lead when, despite just a single time fault from Henrik von Eckermann, Malin Baryard-Johnson retired and Douglas Lindelow’s nine faults were added, but Olympic individual silver medallist Peder Fredricson reined it back with another fabulous clear from H&M All In. And when only Martin Fuchs kept a clean sheet on the Swiss side they stayed behind the Swedes but ahead of the Belgians who finished just off the podium when adding nine faults to their scoreline.

“The lads were brilliant, every one of them. We didn’t have any room for mistakes. I had one bad round and it was over, so I think it was absolutely amazing to do that today, to pull out three clears and each one better than the other!” Allen said.

And it’s not over yet because Sweetnam and O’Connor are lying third and fourth going into the individual final, just fractionally behind Martin Fuchs and his exciting grey, Clooney, in second, and just over two points adrift of Swedish star Fredricson at the head of the leaderboard.

By Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

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

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

Swedes Overtake Swiss in Race for Jumping Team Gold

Photo: Peder Fredricson and H&M All In. (FEI/Claes Jakobsson)

On a day of drama and very mixed fortunes, the host nation climbed to the top of the team Jumping leaderboard at the Longines FEI European Championships 2017 in Gothenburg (SWE). The crowd went wild when Peder Fredricson sealed it with another spectacular clear from his Olympic individual silver medal-winning ride H&M All In, and this result has also cemented the pair at the top of the individual rankings.

“It was a great feeling walking out of the arena after taking my country into the lead!” — Peder Fredricson (SWE)

The cream came to the top over Louis Konickx’s 14-fence track, and clear rounds counted for a lot, the Belgians rocketing up from eighth place to lie joint-third with the Irish going into the medal-deciding final round after producing four spectacular fault-free efforts. The leaders from Switzerland lost their grip when they had to add five faults from Steve Guerdat (Bianca) and a single time penalty from Romain Duguet (TwentytwodesBiches) after Nadja Peter Steiner (Saura de Fondcombe) racked up 13 faults. Martin Fuchs was clear with the enigmatic Clooney, however, so they only dropped one place, and Fuchs remains well within sight of the individual podium, in fifth behind Frenchman Kevin Staut (Reveur de Hurtebise), while Portugal’s Luciana Diniz is in third and Germany’s Marcus Ehning is in runner-up position.

Despite Staut’s second brilliant clear, French chances of adding the European team title to last summer’s Olympic gold now seems like a distant dream. In silver medal position after the opening competition they plummeted down the leaderboard when all three others collected nine faults each. The time-allowed was influential, “but if you rode it smart it wasn’t impossible to get,” said Swedish pathfinder Henrik von Eckermann. “My individual placing isn’t interesting anymore. I’m too far behind, but I think it was a better choice to take the one time fault for the team than trying to get the time,” he added. Team-mate Malin Baryard-Johnson (H&M Cue Channa) produced a brilliant clear so Douglas Lindelow’s (Zacramento) single mistake at the bogey last fence, a water-tray vertical that fell multiple times, could be discounted leaving Sweden with only von Eckermann’s single fault to add to their running scoreline of 8.21.

Ireland’s Denis Lynch (All Star) looked set for a clear that would have left his team in gold medal position only to fault at that same final fence. And, not for the first time, it fell to Cian O’Connor (Good Luck) to ride to his country’s rescue despite a brilliant opening round from Shane Sweetnam (Chaqui Z), because Bertram Allen (Hector van d’Abdijhoeve) was eliminated for a fall at the matchstick oxer. O’Connor kept a clean sheet and lies individually seventh, behind fellow-countryman Sweetnam in sixth, and it’s all to play for going into the final team round, under lights.

Sweden heads Switzerland by less than three faults and the Irish and Belgians are less than a single fault further behind as the action gets underway. Get ready for a nail-biter.

Martin Fuchs SUI, talking about his crucial clear round with Clooney that kept Team Switzerland in silver medal position ahead of the final round of the team event: “It was a bit of a wild ride, but at the end the clear round counts. My horse jumped amazing today. I am ready for tomorrow. There is no water tomorrow and that’s good for us!”

Cian O’Connor IRL, talking about his ride that kept Ireland in joint-third position: “Good luck jumped fantastic today again. Okay, we had a misfortune with Bertram’s ride, but that’s what team-mates are for. Hopefully we will do better and we will keep fighting tomorrow!”

By Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

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

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

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

Dressage Team Gold for Germany Once Again

Photo: Chef d’Equipe Klaus Roeser (left) with the gold medal winning German Dressage team – Isabell Werth, Dorothee Schneider, Helen Langehanenberg and Sonke Rothenberger. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Reigning Olympic champions are in a class of their own; Danes pip host nation Sweden for silver

They may have been thrown slightly off course a few times in recent years, but Team Germany showed that they most definitely have the bit between their teeth once again when following up their Rio 2016 Olympic team victory to claim their 23rd Dressage team title at the Longines FEI European Championships 2017 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

“This is the latest press conference I’ve ever been at in my life, and the driest, so I hope we can go to the bar and have a little party soon! We really couldn’t expect at the beginning of the year that with two horses out of the team that went to Rio we really would dominate the Europeans here in the team competition. All of us are really happy!” — Isabell Werth GER, world no. 1

Already in the lead after the first two team-members completed their Grand Prix tests, they inched ever-closer to that top step of the podium when third-line rider Sonke Rothenberger (22) took his turn with Cosmo. This is a partnership that has matured splendidly, and such was the quality of their work that they were trending with a score over 80% early in their test, eventually posting 78.343 to become the new leaders despite a spooky moment and a mistake in the tempi changes.

Rothenberger’s score brought the German total to 227.915, so victory was already well within their grasp long before anchor rider Isabell Werth (45) came into the ring. Meantime, a fierce battle was raging between neighbours Denmark and Sweden for silver and bronze, with that result finally sealed by a very special performance from Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour. Riding the 14-year-old Atterupgaards Cassidy which she has partnered since her Junior years, the 25-year-old sparkled for a score of 78.300 which put the result beyond doubt. Denmark had not been on a European medal podium since 2001 so there was plenty to celebrate along with team-mates Anna Kasprzak, Anna Zibrandtsen and Agnete Kirk Thinggaard. And for Sweden it was their fourth team bronze, and Rose Mathisen, Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven, Therese Nilshagen and Patrik Kittel were all riding horses that still have something to learn so Chef d’Equipe, Bo Jena, rightly admitted to feeling “really proud” of them.

Carl Hester (Nip Tuck) made a valiant effort to claw back a podium place for the beleaguered British who were always compromised once reduced to a three-member side, and his score of 74.900 placed him individually fifth but Team GB finished two percentage places behind the Swedish bronze medallists while the defending champions from The Netherlands lined up fifth.

Last to ride into the ring, it was only a matter of putting the icing on the German cake as Olympic silver medallists Isabell Werth and her fabulous mare Weihegold swaggered their way through a lovely test that demoted team-mate Rothenberger to runner-up spot in the individual rankings while Denmark’s Dufour finished third and Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg (35) and Dorothee Schneider (48) slotted into fourth and six spots, respectively. The top 30 riders now go through to the Grand Prix Special.

Isabell Werth GER, talking about her mare Weihegold OLD: “She’s in really great shape; always the question is: can you bring it into the competition, and it was really really fun to ride her this evening. It was really a pleasure and so easy. But we all know it was today, and the next day will come and I hope we can keep it up, but you never know. This will be the hardest thing, to keep her in great shape until the end of the week.”

Sonke Rothenberger GER: “I was really happy that my team-mates did such great results on the first day. Of course it was a pity for the mistakes I made in the gallop, but my horse was probably the best he’s ever been and the judges rewarded that and that’s always nice – that the results also reflect the feeling of the rider.”

By Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

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

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

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

Great Britain and Dynamic Danes Share Honours as Para Dressage Draws to a Close

Photo: Stinna Tange Kaastrupd with Horsebo Smarties (FEI/Liz Gregg)

For the second day running Denmark went head-to-head with Para-Equestrian Dressage powerhouse Great Britain as the two nations dominated a compelling final day of Freestyle to Music action in Gothenburg’s Heden Arena at the Longines FEI European Championships 2017.

Once again Great Britain edged ahead of the Scandinavians at the finish, a bold ride from serial winner Sophie Wells (GBR) on C Fatal Attraction giving them a third Freestyle gold of the day, one clear of Denmark’s haul.

It has been another glorious Championships for the Brits who, despite fielding three debutants, take home six of the 11 gold medals on offer. But Denmark will be proud of how far they pushed their illustrious rivals on day two and three, with their dynamic mixture of teenage talent and seasoned know-how promising much for the future.

The first of Great Britain’s triple Championship gold medal-winning newcomers, Suzanna Hext, kicked off proceedings riding Abira in the Grade III finale. The individual and team champion responded to the imposing marker of 76.173% set by Germany’s Steffen Zeibig and Feel Good with a confident ride to edge another gold, this time by 0.233%.

“Coming to my first Championships is enough; winning three gold medals is insane!” — European Grade III Freestyle champion Suzanna Hext (GBR)

Teenager Tobias Joergensen (DEN) on Bruunhiolms Caribian opened up Denmark’s account for the day with bronze behind Zeibig. The 17-year-old hails from a fine line of Para Dressage athletes, as his mother Line Joergensen (DEN) competed at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Inevitably, Great Britain’s Julie Payne was not going to let a day go past at these Championships without producing a huge score and grabbing another gold in Grade I. The 55-year- old and her incomparable mare Athene Lindebjerg showed the virtues of doing the simple things to perfection as they strutted to 80.393%, comfortably the highest mark of the week.

Three rides, three gold medals and the three highest scores of the Championship.

“I’ve certainly had more than my 15 minutes of fame,” said the ever-modest Payne, who, in case anyone should forget, was making her Championship bow.

Rihards Snikus (LAT) on King of the Dance and Elke Philipp (GER) on Regaliz swapped places from Monday’s individual test, taking silver and bronze in the Freestyle, respectively.

In the fourth category of the day, Denmark hit back once again with Susanne Sunesen levelling the tally at two gold medals each. The Dane broke the home crowd’s hearts on the way by snatching gold from Louise Jakobsson and Zernard with the final ride of Grade IV. Sunesen has a wonderfully symbiotic relationship with her horse CSK’s Que Faire.

“Before I got my injury (a farm accident in 2006 left her with incomplete paraplegia) I was riding her, until she was six years old, then she had a foal, then I got my injury and I rode her a little bit after. And then I had a foal (her daughter Sara was in the Heden Arena crowd) and she had another foal and then I started riding her again.” — Grade IV Freestyle gold medallist Susanne Sunesen (DEN)

A disappointed Sanne Voets (NED), riding Demantur, took Grade IV bronze.

And then it was the moment for two-time Paralympic gold medallist Sophie Wells (GBR) to shine in the final test of the Para Dressage Championships. She and C Fatal Attraction knew what they had to beat: Frank Hosmar (NED) and Alphaville N.O.P.’s impressive 76.955%.

“I had no idea what I was going to get out there, but he pulled it out of the bag when it mattered.” — Grade V Freestyle champion Sophie Wells said referring to her spooky horse C Fatal Attraction

The duo stormed to a Championship closing gold with 78.350%. Switzerland’s Nicole Geiger picked up her second bronze of the week with Phal de Lafayette.

By Luke Norman

FEI Media Contacts:

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

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