Tag Archives: FEI Jumping European Championships

Swiss Sweep to Victory in Thrilling Team Final

(L to R): Bryan Balsiger, Martin Fuchs, Chef d’Equipe Michel Sorg, Steve Guerdat, and Elian Baumann. (FEI/Christoph Taniere)

The Swiss stole the show when grabbing Team gold at the Longines FEI Jumping European Championships 2021 in Riesenbeck, Germany. The final round of the team competition was a breathtaking affair, with everything hanging in the balance to the very end when Germany had to settle for silver, while the defending champions from Belgium leap-frogged Sweden to take the bronze.

Spectator numbers were limited due to pandemic restrictions, but the 2,100 who watched from the grandstands were treated to an epic day of top sport. They too showed great sporting spirit, cheering every horse-and-athlete combination that came into the ring.

As the action began there was no room for error, as less than a fence separated the leading Swiss from the chasing Germans while Team Sweden was only one fence further behind. The Swedes couldn’t hang on when Peder Fredricson and Catch Me Not S was the only pair in their side to keep a clean sheet.

That opened the door for the Belgians who carried 17.34 points into the round and added absolutely nothing. All four team-members have qualified for Sunday’s top-25 Individual final, with Pieter Devos lying third with Jade vd Bisschop, Nicola Philippaerts in seventh with Katanga v/h Dingeshof, Jos Verlooy in 17th with Varoune, and Olivier Philippaerts in 21st place with Le Blue Diamond v’t Ruytershof.

The real excitement was the intensity of the battle between Germany and Switzerland for gold. It came right down to the wire and, not for the first time, all the pressure fell on the shoulders of Swiss anchor, Steve Guerdat, who withstood that pressure to bring it home.

This victory was the fifth for Switzerland in the 46-year history of the FEI Jumping European Championships and the first since 2009. But it wouldn’t be easily won.

Kicked off

The Swiss effort kicked off with a 12-fault result for Elian Baumann and Campari Z who lowered the last element of the Longines triple combination at fence six, the oxer near the arena entrance at fence 11 and the first element of the penultimate double of uprights.

So when both Andre Thieme with DSP Chakaria and Marcus Ehning and Stargold jumped clear, then the title seemed to be slipping away from the overnight leaders and into Germany’s grasp. But youngest Swiss team member, 24-year-old Bryan Balsiger, held his nerve to bring AK’s Courage through the finish with a zero on the scoreboard, and when compatriot and defending individual champion, Martin Fuchs, did likewise with Leone Jei then things were looking a little more optimistic for the eventual winners.

By now, Germany’s Christian Kukuk and Mumbai had faulted at the triple combination, so when David Will made it all the way to the penultimate double only to fault at the first element there with C Vier, then one of those two errors had to be counted so the German team tally had risen to 12.77.

That gave Swiss anchorman Guerdat a fence in hand, but he was hoping he didn’t need it. However, that bogey triple combination played its part once again. He made it safely through, but Albfuehren’s Maddox got all fired up going down the line that followed it, and when they turned to the oxer at fence nine the stride just didn’t come up right. With four faults now on the board, they still had five obstacles to clear before the finish. Another error and the game would be over, and it would be Germany in gold medal spot.

Out of control

“It wasn’t that I got worried about the mistake I had, but I got a bit nervous because I was running out of control with my horse; he got really strong after the line of the triple combination, and I had to really try to stay calm to bring him home without thinking of the result, but getting him back together with me which I managed to do. The relief was great after that,” he said.

Guerdat’s impressive European Championship record includes team bronze in 2003, team silver in 2005, team gold in 2009, and team bronze in both 2015 and 2017. When it comes to team competition, the London 2012 Olympic champions is rock-solid reliable, and he brought it home once again.

He insisted afterwards that this win was very definitely not all about him. “I had pressure but no more than my colleagues here. Bryan did an unbelievable job to get us back in the race after Elian today was not as good as we expected, although he’s been amazing the first two rounds. That’s the thing, everyone wants to fight not just for himself but for the whole team; there is a great atmosphere in the team. I think it makes you strong when you fight for four and not just for yourself,” Guerdat said.

For Martin Fuchs there was another reason that this win was extra special. He was following in the footsteps of his father, Thomas, who was on the first Swiss team to win the title back in 1983 at Hickstead, Great Britain.

A huge moment

“It’s a huge moment for me and my career to win alongside three friends and after my dad some years ago. It is great to bring another gold medal back to the family. It is amazing to have his knowledge with us and his precious advice as Swiss team trainer. I am so lucky to be able to do all this with him!” said Fuchs, who goes into Sunday’s Individual Final in pole position.

Meanwhile, the German team reflected on their silver medal result. Marcus Ehning was happy because he was keeping a promise to his son, Lyas. “Today is his birthday and I told him I was going to bring him a medal!” said the man who has been at the heart of German showjumping for many years and who is lying 14th with Stargold going into the Individual medal-decider.

Andre Thieme lies second in the Individual rankings and was thrilled with his silver medal. “It is everybody’s dream to ride a big championship in front of his home crowd!” he said.

Rider’s mistake

David Will insisted his four faults were “a rider’s mistake. I did not have the perfect distance and it is a shame as my horse jumped very well,” but he was still delighted with his silver medal. Christian Kukuk is pleased to be lying eighth individually with the fabulous grey stallion Mumbai.

“The last two days everything went exactly how I wanted, but today I made it just a little too difficult for Mumbai at the last double. But he’s still only nine years old and the way he finished the course made me very proud of him. We are looking forward to Sunday!” he said.

So is Belgium’s Pieter Devos who is lying third with the lovely mare Jade. It’s only a few weeks since he stood on the bronze medal step of the podium at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games following a great performance with another of his string of horses.

“It is Jade’s first championship and she gives me a lot of confidence for Sunday,” he said. His Chef d’Equipe, Peter Weinberg, celebrated his team’s result.

“We didn’t want to use the same horses who jumped the Olympics – all our horses are competing in their first championship here. Today when we walked the course, we saw it was a step bigger, so ending the day with four clears, team bronze, and all riders qualified for the final on Sunday – now that makes me very proud!” he said.

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
+41 78 750 61 46

It’s Tight Going into Team Medal Decider, but Swiss Are Out in Front

Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei. (FEI/Christoph Taniere)

Switzerland moved into the lead in the first round of the Team competition at the Longines FEI Jumping European Championships 2021 at Riesenbeck in Germany. However, the same three countries continue to dominate the leaderboard, with the overnight leaders from Sweden now in third behind the hosts from Germany who maintained their second-place ranking.

With one more day to decide the team medals, the result is still very much hanging in the balance because the margins are really tight.

The Swiss start with a score of 5.47, thanks to superb clears from Elian Baumann (Campari Z), Martin Fuchs (Leone Jei), and Steve Guerdat (Albfuehren’s Maddox). Second-line rider, and at 24 years old the youngest on the team, Bryan Balsiger faulted just once on the 14-fence track when the grey mare AK’s Courage hit the water-tray oxer at fence 10 in an otherwise super round.

However, they don’t have even a fence in hand over Team Germany who added just the four picked up by their last man into the ring, David Will. Will and C Vier fell afoul of the second element of the penultimate double of oxers, which proved hugely influential throughout the afternoon.


His team-mates Andre Thieme (DSP Chakaria) and Christian Kukuk (Mumbai) had both put zeros on the board while Marcus Ehning and Stargold picked up five faults. By the time Will set off, a clear from him would secure the advantage for the host nation going into the final day. His single mistake moved their scoreline on to 8.77. but it still leaves them ahead of the first-day leaders from Sweden, who slipped to third when Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and Ermindo W were the only pair to keep a clean sheet for their side.

On a running score of 11.59, the Swedes are a fence behind the Swiss at the head of affairs, but less than a fence behind the Germans.

Bengstson was delighted with his horse’s performance, and despite the slip down the rankings, he reckons the Swedes shouldn’t be written off yet for the title. “It’s still wide open – Peder (Fredricson) and Douglas (Lindelow) were unlucky, and I didn’t see Angelica (Augustssib Zanotelli) go, but she only picked up four faults too.

“Sometimes it’s good not to be in front on the last day because that means the other teams have to go clear and they feel the pressure. But we need clear rounds tomorrow, that’s the thing!” he said with a big smile.

Both Andre Thieme’s DSP Chakaria and Christian Kukuk’s Mumbai were at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games just a few weeks ago, and yet produced two fantastic rounds for Germany.


The two riders talked about how the trip to Japan proved developmental for both horses.

“We all said if she’s sound and fresh when she comes home, and the jumping feels normal and loose, then we will come here for the European Championships. She only learned from being the Olympics. In Tokyo she was maybe a bit too green; it may have been a bit too early for her, but today she felt really good!” Thieme said of his mare.

Kukuk said his stallion Mumbai came home fresh, and that their relationship has really grown thanks to the Tokyo experience. “I think going there made me and him, and brought us together. He is only nine years old, and he was probably a bit shy in himself there, but what is very good with him is that after coming back, it’s nearly like he’s thinking about it all, and when we see him now here he looks even better than before. He’s a wonderful horse; even when you have a mistake he thinks about it and wants to do it better next time,” Kukuk said today.

Meanwhile, the Swiss reflected on a great day when they were the only team to produce three clear rounds to leave them in pole position going into the final day of the team competition.

Fuchs’ tour of Frank Rothenberger’s 14-fence course was epic, Leone Jei’s extravagant jumping drawing gasps of delight from onlookers. “He has extreme potential and a huge gallop and is easy to ride. He has unlimited scope and he’s extremely good in his head – he really wants to jump!” said the man who at 29 years old is defending the individual European title he won two years ago with the great Clooney.

Swiss supremacy

This result saw him take over the lead in the individual rankings, and it says something for Swiss supremacy when they hold three of the top-five individual placings at this stage of the competition, with Baumann and Guerdat currently sharing fourth behind Sweden’s Bengtsson in third and Germany’s Kukuk in second spot.

They may be in a strong position, but they are not getting too carried away. There’s more work to be done before those medals are presented.

“It’s still a long way to go; everything is still out there. The teams are quite close, but our horses are jumping good and we will give it a try tomorrow,” Guerdat said.

He has had Albfuehren’s Maddox since he was seven. “He’s a Swedish horse that Peder Fredricson used to ride. He’s a really nice horse and I always thought that one day he would do something big. He didn’t win much as an 8-year-old; he started a bit last year; he’s only ten and still has a lot to improve, but he’s powerful and has what it takes to jump big fences. Maybe he’s not quite ready yet to jump five big rounds but we will try,” he added.

Mixed bag

The year 2021 has been a mixed bag for the London 2012 Olympic champion. “I’ve had great success and pleasure in my personal life; it’s been enjoyable every minute,” said the popular athlete whose daughter, Ella, was born in April. But as he pointed out, it has been a tough year from a sport point of view. In June he lost the mare he always called his “Queen,” Bianca, who died of a brain tumour.

“It was not the nicest time, but it’s one of those things that happen. I was on a little bit of a down after that. I won’t say it’s because of that, but sometimes things don’t go well and that’s the run I’ve been having at the moment. That’s why today was important – everything doesn’t feel as confident and smooth as normal, but I have to at least fight. That’s the one thing I have control over. To show the good spirit out there, I’ve got to fight even more than normally, but this is sport; it’s what I’m trying to do and I have my horse on my side and I hope together we can fight for the best result possible!”

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
+41 78 750 61 46

Will the Swedes Continue on a Roll at Riesenbeck?

Jos Verlooy, who was a member of the gold-medal-winning team and also claimed individual bronze with Igor at the Longines FEI Jumping European Championship in 2019. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

When Belgium took the team title and Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs claimed individual gold at the Longines FEI Jumping European Championships 2019 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, few could have anticipated the chaos that would ensue over the next two years as the Covid-19 pandemic changed the world as we know it.

However, while there was a 12-month delay for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the European Championships have retained their two-year cycle and excitement is mounting ahead of the 2021 fixture, which is due to kick off at Riesenbeck International in Germany in four days’ time.

President of the Organising Committee for the fixture that will be staged in his own venue and in his hometown is Germany’s four-time Olympic gold medallist Ludger Beerbaum who has 12 FEI European medals in his personal trophy cabinet. He has managed to put the event together in less than a year, and he’s looking forward to welcoming the best that Europe has to offer.

The question

Coming just three weeks after the Tokyo Games concluded with victory for the spectacular Swedes in the team finale, the question now is whether any other nation can stop them in their tracks. And all eyes will be on Peder Fredricson who clinched that golden moment in a breathtaking jump-off partnering the great All In, with which he claimed the individual European title in 2017.

Just a few days earlier Fredricson stood on the second step of the individual podium in Tokyo. But that is familiar territory for the man who also took individual silver at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and, a long time before that, team silver and individual fourth place at the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece. He’s an extraordinarily gifted horseman who has also competed successfully in the sport of Eventing, and he’s inspiring a whole new generation of athletes, followers, and fans with his ongoing exploits.


Whether the Swedes will be the show-stealers next week remains to be seen, but bolstering that possibility is the presence of Rolf-Göran Bengtsson. He joined Fredricson on that silver medal winning team in Athens 17 years ago and would go on to take individual Olympic silver in Beijing in 2008 before claiming the FEI Jumping European Championship individual title in Madrid (ESP) in 2011 with the brilliant little Ninja la Silla.

This year he bounced back into the spotlight when clinching victory for his country in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ at St Gallen (SUI) in June riding his new star stallion, the 12-year-old Ermindo W with which he clinched the 2020 Swedish National title. The pair went to Tokyo as alternates and were not called to action, so will arrive in Riesenbeck fighting fit and full of promise.

Joining them in the Swedish selection will be Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli (Kalinka van de Nachtegaele), Douglas Lindelöw (Casquo Blue), and Evelina Tovek (Winnetou de la Hamente Z), while Fredricson will be armed with Catch Me Not S, a 5* winner in London (GBR) two weeks ago.

However, teams from 14 other nations and a total of 66 athletes from 23 countries will all have their eyes on the podium places as the action plays out next week.

All guns blazing

Team France are likely to come out with all guns blazing after losing out in the closing stages in Tokyo. They looked to have gold in their grasp until Penelope Leprevost and Vancouver de Lanlore were eliminated, but Leprevost is back in the side next week with GFE Excalibur de la Tour Vidal along with Mathieu Billot (Quel Filou 13), Gregory Cottard (Bibici), Olivier Robert (Vivaldi des Meneaux), and Kevin Staut (Visconti du Telman). This is a squad filled with strength and experience.

Also looking strong is the Dutch selection of Bart Bles (Kriskras DV), Marc Houtzager (Sterrehof’s Calimero), Frank Schuttert (Lyonel D), Harrie Smolders (Bingo du Parc), and Jur Vrieling (Fiumicino van de Kalevallei). The British side includes William Whitaker (Galtur) while Ireland’s Eoin McMahon (Chacon 2) should feel right at home because he is based at Riesenbeck. But of course, most at home will be Team Germany.

They hold the record for the greatest number of victories in this 64-year history of the FEI Jumping European Championships with a total of seven team and 14 individual titles under their belts. And, most interestingly, Chef d’Equipe Otto Becker sends out three of the athlete/horse combinations he fielded in Tokyo three weeks ago.

Maurice Tebbel (Don Diarado), Christian Kukuk (Mumbai), and Andre Thieme (DSP Chakaria) are all listed along with Marcus Ehning (Stargold) and David Will (C Vier 2).  Clearly the Tokyo travel took little out of the horses, and the hosts will be keen to bring their team tally to eight and maybe even the individual tally to 15.

In their way

Standing in their way may be the Belgians and the Swiss.

The Belgians made their first-ever European medals golden ones when coming out on top in 2019, and two athletes from that victorious side have been called up again. This time Pieter Devos will ride Jade VD Bisschop, and Jos Verlooy, who also clinched individual bronze in Rotterdam, will be armed with Varoune. Completing the Belgian selection will be Wilm Wermeir (IQ van het Steentje) and the Philippaerts twins Nicola (Katanga v/h Dingeshof) and Olivier (Le Blue Diamond v’t Ruytershof). Devos was a member of the Belgian team that took bronze at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs will defend his individual title riding the exciting nine-year-old gelding Leone Jei who really impressed when jumping double-clear at the opening leg of the shortened Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2021 series on home ground at St Gallen in June, where the Swiss finished third behind Germany in runner-up spot and Sweden in pole position.

Fuchs’ top horse and 2019 champion, Clooney, suffered a serious injury when falling in his paddock last week, and he and his popular rider have received a tsunami of supportive messages as the horse world wills the much-loved grey gelding to get better soon.


The Swiss side for next week has plenty of horsepower with Steve Guerdat (Albfuehren’s Maddox), Bryan Balsiger (AK’s Courage), Elian Baumann (Campari Z), and Niklaus Schurtenberger (C-Steffra) on call. And of course, you can never overlook the Italians who have a propensity for springing surprises wherever they go.

Course designer will be Germany’s Frank Rothenberger, and the full list of participating nations is Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey.

The Longines FEI Jumping European Championships 2021 gets underway on Wednesday 1 September, and following two more days of competition on Thursday and Friday the team medals will be decided. The new individual champion will be crowned on Sunday 5 September, and we can be sure of super sport along the way.

Masterlist here.  

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
+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
+41 78 750 61 46