Ireland claimed team gold for the second year in a row while Great Britain’s Anna Wilks secured the Individual title at the FEI European Eventing Championships for Juniors 2014 at Bishop Burton College in East Yorkshire, Great Britain today. The venue is the only College in the United Kingdom to hold Centre of Vocational Excellence status in both Agriculture and Equine, and has significant links to the sport as it has been hosting British Eventing Affiliated fixtures for over 25 years. And Eric Winters’ exciting cross-country track, which winds its way through the picturesque Yorkshire countryside, proved highly influential in the end result.
A total of 78 horse-and-rider combinations from 16 nations lined out for the first horse inspection last Wednesday, and there was nothing predictable about this year’s fixture from the outset. Initially the British looked set to clinch their 19th team title after establishing the early lead in Dressage, but Cross-Country day would change all that and, in the final analysis, the host nation missed out on the team podium when finishing fourth behind the French in bronze medal spot, Germany in silver and the Irish at the top of the order.
Wilks was always challenging for Individual pole position, and, lying second after Dressage, she added nothing to her scoreline to emerge champion ahead of Ireland’s Cathal Daniels in silver and Germany’s Jerome Robine in bronze.
It was Robine, riding Quaddeldou R and representing his country at these Championships for the very first time, who headed the Individual leaderboard with a mark of 40.00 after the first phase. “I looked at the scoreboard during the test and saw we had scored two nines, so I got a little bit nervous and a couple of the movements weren’t very good!” said the 16-year-old who is based near Frankfurt. Fellow-German, Tina Kruger (Dolce Mia) who was not a team member, lay joint-third alongside Sweden’s Rebecka Odhner Kallgard (Humty Doo Grans) on a score of 41.5 while Ireland’s Cathal Daniels (Rioghan Rua) filled fifth spot on 41.70 at this early stage.
The British team were out in front on a combined score of 129.2, with the Irish lying second carrying 132.6 and Germany a close third having racked up a team score of 134.1 going into Saturday’s cross-country phase. “We are really pleased and very excited to be leading after the Dressage” said Britain’s Emily King, daughter of British senior team member Mary King, who was lying sixth in the individual rankings on Friday evening. She would, however, disappear from the reckoning the following afternoon when the British endured a dramatic change of fortune.
Not for the faint-hearted
The cross-country track was not for the faint-hearted, and King’s fall with Brookleigh at the Elephant Trap at fence seven put paid to host-nation chances as Katie Bleloch and Bulano had already had a refusal at fence 14. Wilks and fourth team member Sam Ecroyd (Wodan IV) were clear, but the British tally of 162.10 now saw them slip out of a podium placing, and the team wouldn’t recover.
Irish chances were shaken by a run-out for Lucy Latta and Cleo Ferro at the penultimate corners, but when Susie Berry (Carsonstown Athena) added just seven time faults, Daniels added just one and Nessa Briody and Tomboy produced one of 19 clears on the day, then the defending champions were lying in silver medal spot going into today’s Jumping phase. France had moved into bronze medal position while Germany had forged into the lead.
French chances had been boosted by just time faults from Victor Burtin (Early van ter Nieubeke), Maicke Bleuze (Romeo de la Louviere) and Soizic Lefevre (Saga de Mei) and nothing to add for Justine Lacroix (Smoufix Bois Margot). The Germans had risen to the top of the scoreboard thanks to Cross-Country clears from both Rececca-Juana Gerken (Scipio S) and Flora Reemtsma (Ikarosz) while team-mates Hannah Knuppel (Carismo) picked up seven time faults and Jerome Robine (Quaddeldou R) collected just three.
The stage looked set for a German triumph as today’s action began, but it was six clear rounds from the Irish that clinched it. Not even their two individual contenders made a mistake as they showed their class over the tough Jumping track that put paid to German hopes.
Robine produced the only German clear, and when Gerken picked up eight faults then the four each collected by Reemtsma and Knuppel had to be counted, dropping them to silver medal spot on a final score of 151.2 – just over two points behind the Irish. France lined up in bronze on a final tally of 159.4 and the British finished outside the medals with 162.41. But Wilks went a long way towards making up for the home side disappointment when jumping crisp and clear to take the Individual title in fine style.
“I suppose it’s fair to say that show jumping is both mine and my horse’s strong point, as that’s what we did before getting into eventing, but you never dare to hope it will really all come together like it has!” said the delighted 17-year-old from Oxfordshire.
Individual silver medallist, Daniels, was fully focused on the team effort today rather than on his own result. It was his clear round that finally clinched it for the Irish team. “It was all very tight at the top….and all team members knew that we had to jump clear in order to take gold. We’re all very good in the show jumping phase, with great horses, so that’s what we did” said the 17-year-old who was also on last year’s triumphant Irish side and who has already made horses his full-time career.
Germany’s Jerome Robine secured Individual bronze when compatriot, Tina Kruger, left a single fence on the floor to drop to sixth while he kept a clean sheet.
Jeanette Dawson, principal and Chief Executive of Bishop Burton College rounded up the Championships when saying “our aim at the outset was to provide great sport, great spirit and great friendship, and there can be no doubting that we achieved this – and more. The young competitors were great ambassadors for this wonderful sport of Eventing. Although this competition is over, the friendships forged and its legacy – both for Bishop Burton College and all those who took part – will go on!”
FEI European Junior Team Eventing Championship: GOLD – Ireland 149.1: Rioghan Rua (Cathal Daniels) 42.50, Carsonstown Athena (Susie Berry) 51.00, Tomboy (Nessa Briody) 55.60, Cleo Ferro (Lucy Latta (76.30); SILVER – Germany 151.2: Quaddeldou R (Jerome Robine) 42.80, Scipio S (Rebecca-Juana Gerken) 51.50, Ikarosz (Flora Reemtsma) 56.90, Carismo (Hannah Knuppel) 61.40; BRONZE – France 159.4: Smoufix Bois Margot (Justine Lacroix) 43.50, Early van ter Nieubeke (Victor Burtin) 57.30, Romeo de la Louviere (Maicke Bleuze) 58.60, Saga de Mei (Soizic Lefevre) 68.60.
FEI European Junior Individual Eventing Championship: GOLD – Touch of Pleasure (Anna Wilks) GBR 41.20; SILVER – Rioghan Rua (Cathal Daniels) IRL 42.50; BRONZE – Quaddeldou R (Jerome Robine) GER 42.80.