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Nicolas Touzaint Wins
Pratoni, Italy
Photo: Kit Houghton
Nicolas Touzaint (FRA) and Galan de Sauvagère
At the end of a fully totally absolutely exciting Jumping final, the French combination Nicolas Touzaint and Galan de Sauvagère finish on their remarkable Dressage score of 29.40 and take home the individual gold of the 2007 FEI European Eventing Championship. Twelve years after her bronze medal conquered here at Pratoni, Mary King (GBR) wins the silver on Call Again Cavalier (41.30). Germany's Bettina Hoy and her faithful Ringwood Cockatoo are in bronze just a single penalty point behind Mary King (42.30).

For the seventh time in a row, Great Britain prove they are the ultimate European Eventing nation and win the team title (146). With a team score of 212.90, France are the silver medallists. For the second time in the 54-year history of the FEI European Eventing Championships, Italy win a bronze medal. France and Italy secure therefore their team Olympic qualification.

If any proof of the idea that the game is not over until it is over was needed, we clearly got it today at Pratoni. Mary King, who according to her own words is 'old enough to be the mother of some of her team members', and Call Again Cavalier were in fourth position after cross country and a medal seemed a somewhat remote possibility. However a clear Jumping round over the 12-fence, 15-jumping effort track put them in a favourable position. Ringwood Cockatoo and Bettina Hoy were the next in the arena. After a brilliant Dressage score (27.10) and a clear cross country (11.20 time penalties), a clear round seemed within reach. However, Jumping rails are fickle and one went down seemingly smashing every medal hope Bettina could have had. Zara and Toytown cantered in and the public held their breath. All was going well until the oxer at obstacle 9 decorated as an elaborate Roman temple was completely destroyed. She had to jump the fence again picking up on the way time penalties. The bar went down again and so did two others. Nineteen faults later, Zara and Toytown ended up in sixth place with a final score of 51.60. And last but not least, in went Nicolas Touzaint putting up a flawless performance.

"Galan is the most complete Eventing horse, good at all three tests and I want to thank him for today's success," a moved Nicolas commented.

Despite all of these emotions, all champions were happy today.

"To tell the truth, I'm really pleased," Zara pointed out. "The team title was our objective and it was a good week of team effort. I'm happy that Mary is shining."

Bettina was happy too especially given the small accident – a bruised hock- Cockatoo had suffered on Friday in the stables. "And I hope to be fit enough to go to Hong Kong together."

What does it take to have a successful team? Professional riders, of course. Fit horses, for sure, and those of the British team are among the fittest, best prepared and best groomed in the world. But what makes a real difference is the spirit. The little things that keep a team together. All the members of the British team– be they chef d'équipe or groom - wear their uniforms at any one time and in any location. They even have Union Jacks in the buckets of water used for cooling the horses. And this is why they have medals – 20 European titles that is – and we don't.

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