Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) and Shutterfly were simply the best today during the individual final of the 2007 FEI European Jumping Championship and, without a single bar down throughout the four competition days, win the gold on a total score of 1.54. The silver medal goes to Belgium’s Jos Lansink and his gentleman of a stallion Al-Kaheel Cavalor Cumano. Just like Meredith and Shutterfly, they did not make a single fence fall but because of a slower time after the first day speed competition and one time penalty picked up in today’s second round, they finish on 3.42. The bronze goes to Meredith’s team mate Ludger Beerbaum and his 16-year veteran stallion Goldfever (5.11). The prize money awarded to the winners is EUR 50,000; EUR 30,000; EUR 20,000 respectively.
“It is a dream come true,” a delighted Meredith said. Back in 1988 in Aachen, when she as a little kid had seen the European elite jump, she had pledged to herself that one day she would be out there competing with them. “And today, having Ludger on one side and Jos on the other, but standing lower than me, was the greatest feeling.” Meredith paid tribute to Shutterfly whom she called a spectacular animal and an amazing athlete. “He has very delicate nerves,” she explained, “and Mannheim with its large training arenas was perfect for him as it allowed him to relax and concentrate.” Meredith is only the second woman to win the European title in a mixed European championship after France’s Alexandra Ledermann had taken the title in 1999 and the fact that she and Shutterfly are now a real team and have never felt better together has certainly contributed to this success.
Jos was also understandably pleased with his medal. “I know that Cumano is not the fastest horse but we didn’t have a single fence down and am very happy with the silver.” Virtually nothing has changed in Cumano’s preparation since the great success in Aachen. At the beginning of the year, he had been used for reproduction and the championship is only the fifth show he does this year.
Ludger was also a happy man “despite that this is ‘only’ bronze,” he said. “The championship has been successful for Germany and we didn’t lose the gold, we won the silver, which under the circumstances was an achievement,” he explaining referring to the disasters that had befallen team mate Marcus Ehning and Küchengirl. “Germany shouldn’t be the country which always wins. The sport is open and this is what it makes it exciting. And it certainly has been exciting here,” he declared.
The 25 best placed combinations after the speed competition and the two Nations Cup rounds took part today. The competition was held in two rounds over two different courses. The first round’s course was 500m in length. An absolute masterpiece of course building, it comprised 12 obstacles (15 jumping efforts). It was much more technical than the previous two courses requiring absolute concentration and precision. The very colourful and innovative design – indeed how often does one see guitars, musical notes, bicycle wheels and the huge red number 400 paying tribute to the 400th anniversary since the creation of the city of Mannheim – was visually challenging for the horses.
Despite the fact that the second round’s course was shorter – 440m, 10 obstacles (12 jumping efforts) – and much more straightforward, the four days of intense jumping made themselves felt and clear rounds were less frequent than in the first one: 9 clears in round one; 4 clears in round two.
Course designer Christa Jung, who has made history for herself by being the first woman to design a European Championship, said she was very happy with the super sport that had taken place during the week.
The 2007 FEU European Jumping Championship has certainly been a thrilling one and now that all the teams to compete in next year’s Olympic Games are known, eyes are slowly turning to Hong Kong where the next battle of the titans will be staged.