Tag Archives: FEI Jumping European Championship

Individual Gold for Thieme on a Magnificent Day of Sport

Andre Thieme. (FEI/Christophe Taniere)

Individual glory for Germany’s Andre Thieme and his lovely mare DSP Chakaria brought the Longines FEI Jumping European Championship 2021 to the perfect close at Riesenbeck (GER). On an afternoon of spectacular sport, the 46-year-old rider rose from overnight silver into gold medal position in the first of two final rounds. Once there, he held on tight, pinning Friday’s team gold medallists, Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei, into silver while Sweden’s Olympic team gold and individual silver medallist Peder Fredricson and Catch Me Not took bronze.

And the new champion wasn’t holding back. At a press conference filled with joy, relief, reflection, and laughter, Thieme said, “I’m just as much in love with that horse as I am with my wife – and she accepts that!” before turning his attention to Fuchs.

The Swiss rider had teased him by calling Thieme “one of the happy ones!” when he met him in the aftermath of Friday’s team competition, in which the hosts had to settle for silver. But the German rider pointed out that the result had been very close. “And he looked at me and said, ‘Did you really think you guys could beat us? He really said that!” Thieme said with a laugh, very pleased that he had managed to turn the tables on the 29-year-old defending champion, who had to settle for runner-up spot this time around.

Vintage

It was vintage stuff from start to finish and course designer, Germany’s Frank Rothenberger, played a big part in ensuring drama and excitement all the way.

Fuchs was in the lead as the action began, but there was less than a fence between the first seven and less than two fences between the top 12 in the opening round in which the top-24 started. And when the Swiss rider’s fabulous nine-year-old, Leone Jei, hit the oxer after the water at fence nine, then he opened the door for his German rival whose mare made it look pretty easy as she posted a clear to take the lead.

Only the top 12 returned for the second-round medal-decider, and Fuchs was lying fourth on a score of 5.31 this time out, with the sensational partnership of Ioli Mytillneou and Levis de Muze from Greece in third on 4.64 and Sweden’s Fredricson now in silver medal spot, just over two points behind Thieme.

So when the Swiss star lowered the first element of the triple combination in the final round, it seemed his chance was gone. But that fence caused multiple problems and when Mytillneou and her brilliant stallion met it all wrong, she decided to retire. At 24 years old, and with relatively little experience compared to those she was competing against, it was a mature decision as Show President Ludger Beerbaum pointed out later in the day.

So that let Fuchs into bronze medal spot, and when Fredricson’s grey gelding hit the second fence, Fuchs moved up into silver. Thieme could now afford one fence down but no more, and at the bogey triple combination he used up all his luck. But he kept his nerve to bring it home to the delight of the home crowd who roared their approval.

Challenge

The new champion talked about the challenge of that second course: “Walking it you could see that triple combination was going to be very difficult for everybody. The course designer was just very smart.

“From fence three to four he gave us a floating forward six strides to a big oxer with bushes underneath, so you arrived with a lot of impulsion and then it was a bit downhill coming into those two tall verticals. So you had to ride it perfect, and even then there was a chance to have it down,” he explained.

“I got there (to the first part of the triple combination) exactly the way I wanted to, and then boom! I hit the front rail and I thought we have a long way to go. So I tried to stay calm, and she stayed calm with me and I don’t know how many times I can say it, but I’m very blessed with that horse! It’s something very special. Tokyo (Olympic Games) came too early for us; we thought we could do it and then we paid our price, but she learned something in Tokyo and I learned something in Tokyo and I’m glad it came out this way!” he added.

Show President, Ludger Beerbaum, paid tribute to Mytillneou, whose copybook clear rounds throughout the week put her well in contention until things didn’t go right for her. “She showed us how a trusting relationship between a rider and horse can make such difficult courses look easy. And the way her horse jumps, your heart starts smiling by watching it…. I’m absolutely sure we will see this pair again in the top classes, and some day probably on the podium!” he said.

Fuchs admitted that playing second fiddle doesn’t come easy for him. “For the first few minutes I was disappointed about the result, that it wasn’t good enough for gold, but now I’m really happy with silver! I’ll go home with two medals, one gold (team) one silver (individual). Andre was just better than me today and I hope one day I’ll be better than him!” said the 2019 champion.

Fredricson blamed himself for the mistake with Catch Me Not made at the second fence, after he changed his original plan on how to ride that line. And as he said, his time fault was also expensive. “But I think the course designer built in a really clever way: questions all the way around, time just tight enough. Like Martin, at first I was really disappointed with the choice I made, but 45 minutes later I feel happy for my bronze medal,” he said.

Huge task

Multiple champion Ludger Beerbaum admitted that he took on a huge task when he offered to step in and run this Championship at Riesenbeck after it was cancelled last year. But he was happy and relieved.

“I couldn’t be more happy or grateful for having the opportunity to host such an event. It was a brave decision, and the whole team knows what we had to deal with, and it was a tough job, no question. But once we decided to go ahead with it, we had a lot of support and positive energy from everyone. You have to be fortunate to get two weeks weather like this and we are thankful. We’ve seen great, great sport, a super podium, and an unbelievable winner – and I’m also really pleased with number 4 Christian Kukuk who was really close. I’m delighted and well done to everyone!” he said.

He wasn’t the only one feeling grateful after an amazing week at his fabulous venue surrounded by the Surenberg Forest.

Speaking on behalf of all the riders who competed at the Longines FEI Jumping European Championship 2021, silver medallist Martin Fuchs said, “Ludger, thank you very much for organising this. We have seen many shows that have years and years of putting on a show; you didn’t have that and for all of us riders, you are one of the most inspiring people in the sport. We call you the legend behind your back!

“And now that you start to do even more for our sport and that you hold this European Championship during these difficult times, everybody really appreciates it. Everyone has great things to say about the whole organisation and the competition, and I think this deserves a big and warm thank you from all of us!”

No-one was disagreeing with that.

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Sweden Leads Team Ranking, but Germany and Switzerland Are Close Behind

Germany’s David Will and C Vier. (FEI/Christoph Taniere)

Team Sweden swept into the lead on the opening day of the Longines FEI Jumping European Championship 2021 at Riesenbeck, Germany, but the newly-crowned Olympic champions have only a narrow advantage over the host country, who in turn lie just ahead of Switzerland going into the first round of the team competition.

The beautiful big grass arena at the charming new venue created by multiple Olympian Ludger Beerbaum and his team provided the perfect backdrop to a great day of sport. And the hosts had plenty to cheer about when David Will was quickest around Frank Rothenberger’s 13-fence track for a German victory with C Vier in the opening Speed class.

Second-last to go, and chasing the target time set by Tokyo Olympic individual silver and team gold medallist Sweden’s Peder Fredricson riding Catch Me Not, Will shaved almost a second off that without seeming to turn a hair.

“My plan was not necessarily to win this class. I wanted to land a really good round and do everything right leading up to the next days, but of course winning is a very big plus so I couldn’t be happier for myself or my horse. His jumping was amazing; he made it easy for me, so the credit really belongs to him!” said the 33-year-old Will who is competing in his very first Championship.

Pathfinders

Swedish pathfinders, Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli and Kalinka van de Nachtegaele, had a clear but relatively slow tour of the track to come home in 80.92 seconds. But when Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and Ermindo W broke the beam in 75.58, Douglas Lindelow and Casquo Blue stormed home in 73.59, and then Peder Fredricson produced his country’s fourth clear of the competition in 72.58, they clinched pole position in the team rankings when the top three scores were counted.

On top of that, Fredricson lies second and Lindelow third individually, with Olivier Robert from France in fourth with Vivaldi des Meneaux and defending individual champion Martin Fuchs from Switzerland in fifth with Leone Jei.

The German team looked compromised when Maurice Tebbel’s Don Diarado was withdrawn. “Of course it was bad for us that Maurice couldn’t ride, but this decision had to be made for the horse. But if you have Marcus Ehning as the fifth you are still pretty OK! We have a good team and a good team spirit; we are working well together and we’ll see where this leads us. I think we can be very happy with this start,” Will said.

Christian Kukuk’s Mumbai and Andre Thieme’s DSP Chakaria are not long back from Tokyo, but both German horses were looking great when slotting into tenth and 17th individually. The Swedes will be under plenty of pressure if they are to stay ahead of the home contingent. Although the Swiss were a little unlucky.

On course

Anchorman Steve Guerdat looked on course for a really fast result with Albfuehren’s Maddox that could challenge for the lead but, coming down to the wall of planks at fence nine on a seven-stride distance, the stallion put down for an extra one at the last minute and ploughed through the timber. The pair cleared the finish in 71.96 which would have been the second-quickest time of the class, but the addition of four seconds for that mistake left them in 14th place instead, just behind Swiss team-mates Elian Baumann with Campari Z and Bryan Balsiger and AK’s Courage. Fuchs’ great fifth-place result was therefore pivotal at the end of the day.

The Netherlands lies fourth, France fifth, and the defending champions from Belgium are in sixth place. Belgian chances were undermined when, in what looked set to be another good round, Olivier Philippaerts’ Le Blue Diamond v’t Ruytershof did exactly the same thing as Guerdat’s stallion at the planks at fence nine.

At the post-competition press conference, Peder Fredricson said, “There was something about that fence that was a bit spooky. When my horse came in, he also had a little look at it – I showed it to him and he really didn’t like it but when he was up and going, he didn’t mind it!” he explained.

Commenting on the course in general, the Swedish star added, “It was really well built, quite welcoming for the horses – a nice start but with a few good questions, including the turn inside to the water and the two combinations at the end. He (Frank Rothenberger) did a really good job; most horses jumped well and confidently and still there were mistakes,” he pointed out.

Temptation

Lindelow described his feeling after steering his 11-year-old gelding into third individually and helping to anchor his country’s team lead. He also talked about the temptation to try too hard where speed was so important. “It’s easy to get drawn in when the class is running so that you try to ride faster than you planned initially. But I think I stuck to my plan, and I’m very happy with the result, and with my horse,” he said.

He wasn’t the only one feeling pleased. “I’m pleased, relieved, a little bit proud, and a little bit honoured!” said event creator Ludger Beerbaum, who was anxious that everything went right at this first major fixture on his home turf. It’s less than a year since the Championship was allocated to his venue which has been rapidly developed since then.

“It’s my name up front but it’s definitely not all my achievement or glory; we have a great group of people: Karsten (Lütteken, Show Director) and the whole team at Riesenbeck International. You never really know when you do an event for the first time – are we really able to do this, are we competent enough, will the ground last, will we have a nice competition, especially in the speed class? You never know 100%. But I couldn’t be more pleased,” he said.

Results and startlists here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
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