FEI EUROPEAN PONY CHAMPIONSHIPS 2010
EVENTING - BRITISH TAKE TEAM GOLD, INDIVIDUAL TITLE GOES TO GERMANY
In a competition dominated by an influential cross-country course, Great Britain secured team gold at the FEI Pony European Eventing Championships held at Bishop Burton College in East Yorkshire, England.
The dressage leaderboard was completely re-arranged after the cross-country phase over Eric Winters' technical 20 fence course of 30 jumping efforts. The gold medal winning team of Grace Walker (Noble Springbok), Sophie Beauty (Done and Dusted), Sam Ecroyd (Catherston Nutsafe) and Alfie Bradstock (Montezuma II), second after dressage, pulled into a convincing lead, when all four team riders posted clear cross-country rounds – three of them within the time. For good measure two Brtish individual riders also returned with a clean sheet.
The dressage leaders from Germany dropped to second, but their most senior rider Marissa Braig (Andy) - a member of last year’s gold medal-winning team - held the individual lead while Belgium leapt up the rankings from seventh to a potential bronze medal position after all four team-members including sisters Idalie and Sophie De Cartier De Marchienne, Clara Davoine and Seppe Peters went clear.
Other countries were not so fortunate. Individual dressage leader Bianca Walton from Denmark was one of 13 who collected penalties for refusals and Dutch rider Edith Chardon, second after dressage, was eliminated for accumulated refusals at fence 4, a double of off-set flower boxes. The fence, described by course designer Eric Winter as ‘two parallels in a field’ proved the nemesis of quite of few and three riders were eliminated here for falls. Thirty seven of the 49 starters completed, and all passed the final veterinary inspection to go to the final day’s show jumping which looked a formality for the British team.
Sixteen combinations, including two of the British team, went clear while another 13 added just four faults to their score and the main positions in both team and individual competitions remained unchanged. Great Britain won team gold with a margin of 43.1 penalties while British rider Grace Walker and the pony veteran Noble Springbok claimed individual silver. “All six riders have been exceptional – after yesterday’s cross-country we could not be anything other than proud,” said British Chef d’Equipe Ginnie Keen.
Germany took team silver and Belgium took bronze. Marissa Braig and Andy claimed individual gold for Germany, Grace Walker took silver for Great Britain and Ireland's Sarah O’Brien took bronze. Sarah improved from 13th to third after cross country and jumped clear in the final phase to take bronze with the brilliant little grey Ice Cool Bailey who provided her brother, Joseph, with exactly the same medal in the 2009 Championships.
DRESSAGE - HISTORIC TEAM VICTORY FOR THE NETHERLANDS, GERMANY TAKES INDIVIDUAL TITLE
A closely-fought competition that went right to the wire gave The Netherlands pony team the coveted team gold ahead of their long-time adversaries from Germany. While the margin of victory was small – less than three marks – the scale of the victory was as huge as that of the Dutch senior riders at last year’s European Championships, because Germany dominated this pony competition for the previous 20 years.
The Dutch team of Dana van Lierop (Equestricons Lord Champion), Antoinette te Riele (Golden Girl), Maria van den Dungen (Rembrandt DDH) and Suzanne van de Ven (Majos Cannon), scored an average of 73.741% against an average of 73% for the German team members and their four palomino ponies . “I am really happy because this group has been working together for several years to achieve this gold,” commented Dutch Chef d’Equipe Tineke Bartels. "They all did a good job and as three riders move on from ponies next year it's good for them to get gold at the end of their pony careers." Denmark claimed team bronze with an average score of 68.741%, and the home team of Great Britain, with an average score of 67.5% and just four marks behind, finished fourth of the 11 teams.
Thirteen-year-old German rider Jessica Krieg headed the team competition with the seven-year-old stallion Danilo ahead of Dutch rider Maria van den Dugen and Rembrandt DDH, and In the individual test Jessica continued to dominate. The youngster who is trained by Stephanie Meyer-Biss won the gold medal with 76.737%. The silver went to last year’s individual champion, Antoinette te Riele from Holland riding the palomino mare Golden Girl. This partnership who are trained by former Olympic medallist Coby van Ballen earned a score of 75.842% while Germany's Charlott Walterscheidt and the stallion Deinhard B, the 2008 champion under Sönke Rothenberger, took bronze with a mark of 74.684%. These three riders also dominated the final day’s Kur with Antoinette te Riele and Golden Girl, in a repeat of last year’s result, gaining the edge with her performance set to a musical score by Abba.
JUMPING - GERMANY WINS TEAM GOLD, IRELAND TAKES INDIVIDUAL HONOURS
In contrast to their dressage counterparts, German pony show jumpers secured their first European team gold medal for almost twenty years. Kaya Luthi (Karwim), Miriam Zell (Wombel) and Laura Klaphake (Jerome) pulled rank in the competition over the Irish whose rider Bertram Allen topped the leader board with Acapella Z and led his side (Bertram Allen, Tom Foley, Shane Kenny and Emma O'Dwyer) to silver. The Irish were forced into a two-way jump-off with Belgium when both sides finished with 12 faults after the first two rounds but pipped their rivals when producing the quickest three tours of the track in the medal-decider.
Bertram Allen, contesting his first European Championship, continued as he started when taking individual honours in the final competition of the championships with Acapella Z whcih he has ridden for two years. It was the perfect way for the young man from County Wexford to celebrate his 15th birthday and he completed both competitions on a clean sheet . “It is always a privilege to train good horses and good jockeys. I have trained this partnership from day one, and they have always been on an upward curve,” commented the Irish gold medal winner's trainer, former Irish army show jumping star Capt Con Power.
Allen's nerve was tested to the limit when he went into the individual final in the lead but without any room for error because Belgium's Julie de Pelsmaeker was hot on his heels with just a single time fault while Holland's Niels Knape was carrying only two time penalties. The Irish rider was competing the 13 year old Mexican-born Acapella Z which was bred to be a horse but, born a twin, never grew big enough and so was eligible for pony competitions. She produced several foals before being broken as an eight-year -old and was exported from the world-famous La Silla Stud in Monterrey to the equally-famous Zangersheide Stud in Holland before eventually finding her way to Scotland where she was spotted and bought by the Allen family. Pelsmaeker stayed clear to take silver with Sambo Lino while Knape took the bronze.
It was the perfect result for Ireland's Pony High Performance Coach Ian Fearon who now retires from the role. "This was a fantastic performance by Bertram. He incurred no penalties at all throughout the entire weekend, and his pony showed all the attributes needed to win a major championship. He has been outstanding all year and today's medal is proof of his ability" he said.
For full results of the FEI Pony European Championships visit http://vikingfm.bauerweb.co.uk/FEI-Pony/press.html