Tag Archives: Show Jumping

It’s European Team Gold and a Tokyo Ticket for Belgium

Team Belgium. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Belgium held on tight to the top of the leaderboard to win their first-ever team medals in the 62-year history of the FEI European Jumping Championships – and they were golden ones.

Otto Becker’s German side were firm favourites to take the title for the eighth time, but in the end, they had to settle for silver ahead of Great Britain in bronze. And the icing on the cake from a Belgian perspective was that they are now on the road to Tokyo 2020, because they bagged one of the three spots on offer to teams not already qualified thanks to superb performance from Pieter Devos, Jos Verlooy, Jerome Guery, and Gregory Wathelet. Britain and France bagged the remaining two qualifications.

It was edge-of-the-seat stuff to the very end, Wathelet aware that he could afford a fence down or a time fault when he was last man into the ring, but not both if his country was going to top the podium.

Belgium, Germany, and Great Britain were already in gold, silver, and bronze medal positions as the final day began. The British added eight faults to their scoreline when Ben Maher and Explosion led the way with a clear and both Holly Smith (Hearts Destiny) and Amanda Derbyshire (Luibanta BH) left just a single fence on the floor, Scott Brash (Hello M’Lady) providing an eight-fault discard this time around.

Germany added four when pathfinder Simone Blum (DSP Alice) and anchorman Daniel Deusser (Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z) each had a fence down but both Christian Ahlmann (Clintrexo Z) and Marcus Ehning (Comme Il Faut) jumped spectacular clears.

When Devos and his mare Claire Z were first out for Belgium and collected five faults when hitting the penultimate vertical and going over the time-allowed of 78 seconds their lead began to look a little shaky. But Verlooy and Igor kept a clean sheet and when Guery and Quel Homme de Hus collected just a single time fault then they began to look much more secure.

As Wathelet set off history was hanging in the balance, but he wasn’t going to let that get to him. “I like pressure!” he said after galloping through the timers with the scoreboard showing a nice big fat zero. In the final analysis his country grabbed the gold with a total of 12.07, Germany took silver medal spot on 16.22, and Great Britain finished in bronze with 21.41.

Victorious Chef d’Equipe, Peter Weinberg, said, “It’s unbelievable and I’m very, very proud of my team, four top riders with brilliant horses; they did a fantastic job and I’m very, very happy!” When asked why it has taken so long for Belgium to get on the European team podium, he replied with a laugh, “Maybe it’s because they didn’t have me as a trainer!”

All the Belgian team paid tribute to their back-up crew and the other Belgian riders, including Olivier Philippaerts and Niels Bruynseels, who have supported them every inch of the way this week.

“We’ve been working together for a couple of years now, and today we put everything together. We all think the same way and we are all good friends, and this is why we got the gold.” — Pieter Devos (Team Belgium)

Jerome Guery said, “Yesterday I was a little disappointed with my result – I had to be better today for my horse, and also for my team. We knew after my ride the we would get the silver but then Greg rode a clear and it was gold!” And like all the riders, he complimented the fantastic courses being presented by The Netherlands’ Louis Konickx this week.

“We’ve had three really different classes; the first day was a typical speed class, yesterday was a more delicate round, and today was much bigger. It’s been a really good job from the course design team,” he pointed out.

Germany’s Daniel Deusser reflected on how this team competition played itself out. “We started strong on the first day but lost it a little bit yesterday… it was a very exciting class today and the teams were close. In the end we are very happy with silver.”

All four Belgian team-members have made the cut into Sunday’s top-25 individual final, and Verlooy is lying a very close second to Britain’s Ben Maher at the head of affairs when the action gets underway after a rest day.

Results here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Clear Rounds Carry Belgians to Top of Jumping Team Leaderboard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Results here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Great Britain Wins Double Gold in Eventing

Photo: Leszek Wójcik.

British riders have defended their last year’s title and stood on the highest step on the podium twice: individually and as a team. The silver medal went to France, and bronze to Ireland.

The British team won with the following squad: Finn Healy with Midnight Dancer, Ibble Watson with Bookhamlodge Pennylane, Freya Partridge with Master Macky, and Daisy Bathe with SF Detroit. They took the lead after dressage and kept it until the end of the competition.

The best score in the team, and the best one in the individual ranking, belonged to 15-year-old Finn Healy – 31,7. Although he was tenth after dressage, a clear round inside the time on the cross-country course and only one point for time during the showjumping have earned him his gold medal.

“It was a testing cross-country track, very technical; it required some reactive riding; we all did that and got ourselves in the position to win. It didn’t really sink in yet. It’s a dream come true,” said Finn Healy.

Silver went to his teammate Ibble Watson and bronze to Camilla Luciani (ITA) with Camelot Damgaard.

Daisy Bathe had an unlucky round in the jumping and finished the championships on the seventh position.

Dressage

The Danish have won three gold medals at this year’s Pony European Championships in dressage: team, individual, and freestyle, where riders performed their rounds to music of their choosing.

The individual medalists have repeated their success. The highest score belonged to the world ranking number one – Alexander Yde Helgstrand with Adriano B – 82,140.

“It’s totally amazing. I didn’t expect to win three times. I choose my music on my own. I’ve actually had this music for quite some time. My pony knows the program and the music, so I think it really fits Adriano,” said the winner after the prizegiving.

The second silver medal went to his teammate Liva Addy Guldager Nielsen riding D’Artagnan 187, and Germany’s Shona Benner with Der Kleine Sunnyboy WE won the bronze medal again.

Showjumping

The final class of the European championships for ponies in Strzegom determined the individual medals for showjumping.

31 pairs have competed in the two-round competition. 12 of them had a good chance to win gold. Four riders entered the final with a clean slate, and eight with only four penalty points.

The course designer, Szymon Tarant, set up a demanding course in the first round, and only three riders have managed to go clear. The second part of the class, high up to 135 cm, has determined the winner. Max Wachman riding Cuffesgrange Cavalidam became the gold medalist of the 2019 Pony European Championships.

“It’s a great feeling. My pony is top class. The first round was quite tricky, very technical. The second round was less technical and a bit bigger. I’m out of ponies now, so I will focus on big horses and hopefully qualify for the Junior European championships next year,” said the winner.

The audience in Strzegom witnessed a jump-off for the silver medal, between riders from France and Great Britain. Holly Truelove (GBR) was the first one to go. She took a risk riding to the last oxer, which gave her a quick time and made it challenging for her rival. Ilona Mezzadri (ITA) with Callas Rezidal Z took up the glove, but had two down, which gave her a score of 8 penalties, and bronze medal in the final classification.

153 riders from 18 countries competed in three Olympic disciplines during the FEI Pony European Championships in Strzegom.

Full results: https://zawodykonne.com/zawody/50/tour/84.

Contact:
www.strzegomhorsetrials.pl
press@strzegomhorsetrials.pl

They’re Rearing to Go in Rotterdam!

Bella Rose and German legend Isabell Werth. (FEI/Kim C Lundin)

The horses, riders, back-up teams, and supporters have been descending on the “Het Kralingse bos”, the lovely forested public park located in the village of Kralingse on the outskirts of Rotterdam in The Netherlands, in preparation for the opening of the Longines FEI European Championships 2019 for Jumping, Dressage, and Para-Dressage.

The competition action kicks off Monday 19 August, but the hijinks already started with some of the world’s greatest Dressage horses hot-to-trot and full of beans during the first veterinary inspection in which all were deemed fit to compete.

The No. 1 horse-and-rider combination of German legend Isabell Werth and her brilliant mare Bella Rose put on a show in front of the Ground Jury when Bella couldn’t contain her excitement about what’s going to happen over the coming days. And they are not the only ones anticipating a great week of sport.

A total of 70 athletes from 24 countries and teams from 15 nations will compete in both Dressage and Jumping, while 66 riders from 21 countries will battle it out for Para Dressage medals.

The Rotterdam showground has undergone a major transformation with an expanded grandstand around the main arena. A short walk through the woods takes visitors to the nearby Para Dressage ring where the veterinary inspection took place, and there is an extensive trade-stand area further along the forest pathway.

The Dressage team medals will be decided in the Grand Prix in which the first tranche of riders will compete before the Opening Ceremony takes place. On Tuesday the Grand Prix will conclude and the team medals will be awarded. The Grand Prix Special will take place on Thursday, and then Saturday’s Grand Prix Freestyle will bring this Championship to a close.

Beginning on Wednesday there will be five full days of Para Dressage action, highlighted by the team medals presentation on Friday and the Freestyle finales on Sunday.

The Jumping team medals will also be awarded on Friday after three consecutive days of thrilling competition, and on Sunday a new Jumping champion will be crowned at the end of the two-round individual showdown.

Once available, startlists and results can be found here.

Event website here.

Watch all the action live www.feitv.org.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

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

Olympian Ben Maher Tops LGCT Grand Prix of London

Maher and Explosion W (Photo courtesy of Stefano Grasso)

Rome, Italy (August 16, 2019) – Olympic Gold Medalist Ben Maher’s show jumping prowess has been the subject of championship stories at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, the 2012 London Games, and numerous international competitions around the globe. On the famed Longines Global Champion Tour (LGCT) circuit, Maher has consistently topped its destination events over the past two years, and this summer was victorious not only in his nation’s capital of London while representing the home team London Knights, but is well positioned to reclaim his 2018 LGCT Champion of Champions title for 2019.

Maher kicked off the 2019 LGCT season with a second-place finish aboard his anchor KWPN stallion, Explosion W (Chacco Blue x Untouchable), in the LGCT of Doha. Subsequent top finishes for Maher and teammates on the London Knights in Stockholm, Sweden and Casais/Estoril, Portugal further cemented their prestige in the LGCT ranks. From August 2nd to 4th, Maher truly proved his star power, winning the LGCT Grand Prix of London and skyrocketing both himself and his team to top rankings in the tour and league. In a four-horse jump-off and aboard Explosion W, Maher edged out Shane Sweetnam aboard Alejandro and Darragh Kenny aboard Classic Dream to take the win on a time of 38.98. It was double gravy for Maher, who won not only for his home team, the London Knights, but also in his nation’s capital.

Following the LGCT in London and the subsequent LGCT Valkenswaard, Maher sits perfectly poised to pounce at future destinations and be named the 2019 LGCT Champion of Champions for the second year in a row. Maher no doubt has his sights set on further victories and ultimately Tokyo 2020.

Media contact:
holly@equinium.com
www.equinium.com

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

Pony European Championships: Ireland Wins Team Gold in Showjumping

Sophia Rössel with Camillo We. Photo by: Mariusz Chmieliński.

The Irish team was unbeatable in the fight for team medals at the FEI European Championships for Ponies. Silver went to Great Britain and bronze to France.

It was an emotional day at Strzegom. The team medals were uncertain until the last ride. Two jump-offs had to happen to determine the bronze and gold winning teams.

Germany and France fought for the bronze. The two teams had the same score of 4 points in the jump-off, so it was the time that determined that France stood on the lowest step of the podium.

The Irish competed in the following squad: John McEntee, Niamh McEvoy, Tom Wachman, and his brother Max Wachman. They had a hard nut to crack in the jump-off, as the British were a fast opponent, and they also had their eyes set on the prize.

“Very fast jump off, the course was big, the English were very hard to beat, so it made it difficult for us,” said Tom Wachman.

“The English looked very fast, so I was just cheering for my team, hoping they will gallop fast enough and jump clear,” said Francis Derwin, who did not compete, but had helped his teammates in the first class of the championships.

The time of the Irish team, 1,72 seconds faster than Great Britain’s, decided their win.

Eventing

The eventing dressage trials ended on Friday. The current leaders, with the score of 88,4, are from team Great Britain. Second place for now belongs to France and third to Germany. 7 teams are competing overall.

German athlete Sophia Rössel with Camillo We performed the best individual test with the result of 25,4. The only Polish rider of the class, Julia Witkowska riding Chester, is currently in the 36th position.

Full results: https://zawodykonne.com/zawody/50/tour/84.

Contact:
www.strzegomhorsetrials.pl
press@strzegomhorsetrials.pl

FEI Pony European Championships: Team Gold in Dressage for Denmark

Photo by Leszek Wójcik.

The dressage team from Denmark went for the gold medal at the FEI European Championships for Ponies. Silver medal went to the Netherlands, and bronze to Germany. The Polish team finished at the tenth position.

The Danish team competed in the following squad: Alexander Yde Helgstrand with Adriano B, Liva Addy Guldager Nielsen with D’artagnan 187, Nathalie Thomassen with Lykkehoejs Dream of Dornik, and Thilde Rude Hare with Morgensterns Dakar. 226,829 was their collective score.

“Competing as a team is stressful because you have to rely on other people and some things are out of your hands. It’s the first time Denmark has ever won, so it’s fantastic,” said the member of the winning team, Nathalie Thomassen.

The best individual result belonged to the current FEI rankings number one – Alexander Yde Helgstrand aboard Adriano B – 77,543.

“It’s amazing. It’s unbelievable. It was really close between all the teams, so it was quite stressful, but it ended up great,” said Alexander Yde Helgstrand.

Polish riders ended up on the 10th position, with 14 countries competing overall. The best score for Poland belonged to Tatiana Bierieznow with Gluckspilz – 69,743.

It’s not the end of dressage. From Friday to Sunday riders will present themselves and their ponies in the individual classes.

Showjumping

50 riders competed in the first class of the Pony European Championships in showjumping. 18 of them finished the class with zero penalty points. The best ride belonged to Linnea Ilsoee Madsen with Zee Tech, as they cruised over the course in amazing time of 64,97 seconds.

Three teams are clear: Germany, Great Britain, and France. Anything can happen in the final, as Italy, Ireland, and Denmark currently stand on the score of 4 penalties.

Poland is at the 10th position. The best result belonged to Aleksandra Osuch riding Rosa, as they finished the class with only one knockdown.

Full results: https://zawodykonne.com/zawody/50/tour/84.

Contact:
www.strzegomhorsetrials.pl
press@strzegomhorsetrials.pl

Olympic Champion Jung Claims Ready Steady Tokyo Test Event Honours

Michael Jung with Fischerwild Wave. (FEI/Yusuke Nakanishi)

Germany’s Michael Jung, Olympic Eventing champion in London 2012 and again in Rio 2016, has already claimed gold in Tokyo one year out from the Olympic Games after taking the honours with Fischerwild Wave at the Ready Steady Tokyo test event which wrapped up at the Equestrian Park.

The 37-year-old, who has three Olympic gold and one silver from two Games appearances with the now retired La Biosthetique Sam FBW, had shadowed the leaders from the outset, even though he was riding the youngest horse on the start list.

Third after Dressage behind the home side’s Yoshiaki Oiwa and Bart L JRA, the German pair moved up to second after cross country, and a superb clear in the final Jumping test with the seven-year-old Fischerwild Wave then put the pressure on overnight leaders, Australia’s Andrew Hoy with Bloom Des Hauts Crets.

The mare had jumped impeccably around Derek Di Grazia’s cross country 24 hours earlier, but became increasingly headstrong over the coloured poles, and when the middle element of the triple combination hit the sand to drop Hoy down the order to fifth, victory went to the German duo.

In mixed weather conditions that veered from heavy rain to hot sunshine, nine horses were foot perfect over Santiago Varela’s 11-fence track, with Japan’s Ryuzo Kitajima on Vick Du Grisors JRA and Dressage leaders Yoshiaki Oiwa and Bart L JRA among them. The home pair moved up to claim podium spots in silver and bronze, heading no less than four Japanese in the top 10.

All 16 horses that started cross country were passed fit at the horse inspection, with all of them beautifully turned out and looking exceptionally well.

The German winner was quick to praise the facilities provided at the two venues, Equestrian Park and Sea Forest. “For me it was very interesting to be here and nice to see how everything works, especially the cross country with the horses. It felt very good. It’s difficult but still possible and I think it’s really not a problem. For sure you need a very good preparation and you have to be very fit before you arrive here, the horses and the riders as well.

“I think it will be very nice next year if you see everything this year and we have one more year to prepare and to make some little details a bit better. I’m really looking forward to next season.”

Second-placed Ryuzo Kitajima, a member of Japan’s gold medal team at last year’s Asian Games in Jakarta (INA), was delighted with the performance of his horse Vick Du Grisors JRA. “It was hard work in the very hot weather, but my horse had a very good reaction in the cross country and in the practice arena he was too fresh today so I’m very happy with a double clear, it’s a fantastic result.”

The overwhelming impression from the 20 National Olympic and Paralympic Committees that were onsite was extremely positive and the general mood was summed up by Sydney 2000 Olympic champion David O’Connor, who chairs the FEI Eventing Committee.

“The facilities are very impressive and we had the chance to test everything we needed to test, which was the purpose of this week’s test event,” he said. “There are some adjustments to be made but they are minor ones, as the Organising Committee has thought through all the details and is right on track to make 2020 a really great Olympic Games for equestrian sport.”

Ready Steady Tokyo equestrian test event (final placings) – 1, Germany’s Fischerwild Wave (Michael Jung), 28.0 penalties; 2, Japan’s Vick Du Grisors JRA (Ryuzo Kitajima), 28.2; 3, Bart L JRA (Yoshiaki Oiwa), 30.1; 4, Great Britain’s Halltown Harley (Georgie Spence), 30.6; 5, Australia’s Bloom Des Hauts Crets (Andrew Hoy), 31.7; 6, Japan’s Swiper JRA (Toshiyuki Tanaka), 32.3.

Media contacts:

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

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

Kiwis and Chinese Claim Tokyo Tickets at Valkenswaard

New Zealand and China. (FEI/Libby Law Photography)

New Zealand and the People’s Republic of China are both on their way to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after clinching the top two places at the Olympic Group G team Jumping qualifier staged in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands.

The experienced Kiwi side was always tipped to come out on top, and they lived up to expectations. But as four-time Olympian Bruce Goodin pointed out they were taking nothing for granted.

“These qualifiers are tricky things; it’s all or nothing; you can come in with good form and still miss out – you have to get it right on the day!” said the man who is based in Skåne, Sweden.

And it was clearly no walk-in-the-park for any of the six nations vying for those two coveted slots, Helena Stormanns’ winning side of Goodin, Samantha McIntosh, Tom Tarver-Priebe, and Daniel Meech posting a final scoreline of 17 faults, although they didn’t have to call up anchorman Meech in the second round.

China’s Yaofeng Li, You Zhang, Zhenqiang Li, and Tongyan Liu rounded up their score to 47 faults for second place while Hong Kong’s Patrick Lam, Clarissa Lyra, Jacqueline Lai, and Kenneth Cheng finished third with 58. The only other team to finish was Chinese Taipei whose Tina Lu, Isheau Wong, Po-Hsiang Huang, and Jasmine Chen put 62 faults on the board. The three-member sides from The Philippines and the Republic of Korea did not complete.

“It’s a huge thrill for us – we missed out on a team place at the last two Games but we came here with three experienced riders, and one newcomer in Tom who had never been on team before at this level, so for him to come out with a clear in the second round was really something! I’m very proud of all our team and very thankful to Helena our Chef d’Equipe!” Goodin said.

The Kiwis were already well out in front after the first round, counting single errors from both Goodin (49) with Backatorps Danny V and Samantha McIntosh (43) riding Check In, and the five collected by Daniel Meech (45) and his mare Fine. The relatively unknown Tarver-Priebe (34) and Popeye racked up a 12-fault tally for the first-round discard, but their foot-perfect second run secured the Tokyo ticket and ensured Meech didn’t have to return to the ring. The only addition to the New Zealand scoreline were the four faults picked up by Goodin and his 11-year-old gelding who clipped the final fence second time out.

McIntosh was clear at her second attempt, and the lady who was flying the Bulgarian flag on her only previous Olympic outing in Sydney (AUS) in 2000 is delighted to be back representing her native country once again. “These guys are my friends and we work great as a team. I was young (24) when competing in Sydney and I never managed to have the right horse at the right time for any of the other Games until now. Check In has been a fantastic horse for me. It didn’t start easy, but we have a great partnership now!” she pointed out.

“Things come easier when you’re younger,” said Meech. “I competed in Atlanta (1996) and finished 12th in Sydney (2000) but there’s been a big gap and I really appreciate it much more now than I did then! There’s nothing like the Olympic Games; absolutely nothing compares; this qualification is such a relief and it’s great to get the Olympic buzz going again!” added the German-based rider.

“The Chinese team is going to the Olympics again as a team; it means we have improved a lot in the last 10 years and we will keep improving. I think this will motivate more and more people to join this amazing sport. We’ve been preparing for this for over a year,” said 21-year-old Yaofeng Li who finished individually seventh for the host nation at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China in 2014.

And there was one extra-proud father at Valkenswaard, Yaofeng’s father Zhenqiang Li (51), who posted just six faults over two rounds to help seal that second Olympic slot. “For a dozen years my son and I have trained together, competed together, and now it has proved to be a worthwhile trip – I am very excited! Beijing 2008 was the first Olympic Games for me and the Chinese riders, so it is a lifelong memory for me. And it is even more meaningful because last time we got through as host country but this time we competed against five other teams in Group G and earned the qualification. It proves that equestrian sport in China has developed dramatically in recent years!” he pointed out.

Team China captain and anchorman, Tongyan Liu (51), congratulated his side. “This is only the first step in a long journey – there is still a gap between us and the world’s best riders, but I hope the young Chinese riders will go further, and even better!” he said.

One of those young hopefuls is 18-year-old You Zhang who steered his 10-year-old gelding Caesar through two eight-fault rounds. As he rightly pointed out, this was a watershed moment for his country in the history of this sport. “I feel great to achieve this result with my team; it’s the first time that China has been properly qualified as a team, so I feel happy for myself and the Chinese Team. I’m very excited about going to Tokyo, really looking forward to it, and we will try to do good over there!” he said.

Full result here: https://results.hippodata.de/2019/1714/docs/result_qualifier.pdf

by Louise Parkes