European eventing championships

 

Up and  

 

down

 

the hills

 

Eventing trials usually take place in some of the world’s most beautiful places and the 2013 European Championships were no exception. 

 

By Camilla Alfthan

 

 

Set in Southern Sweden in Ribersborg the three day trials took place on the former exercise fields of the Swedish cavalry with the Oresund sea as a beautiful backdrop. Some 25,000 people attended the event on Ribban Beach which, as tradition dictates, started with dressage, continued with a 6,000 meters cross country ride and then culminated with the show jumping class as the pictoresque clouds were looming over the skies.

As it turned out, the greatest beauty of the event was the reigning champion, Michael Jung’s incredible ride on his 9-year old Hanoveranian, Halunke. The German was already in the clear lead on day one with the dressage.

Despite knocking down a fence in the final show jumping the 31-year old came out as the clear winner.

“My horse was a bit to strong on the first jump so I had to close it a little. Then everything went better,” said the Jung who wrote history while defending his title.

 

A world record

 

With an individual gold medal he became the first eventer ever to hold four individual gold medals in a row – two European Championships, the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and the Olympic Games in London where Jung won the gold on his 30th birthday.

For his team mates the championships were also a great success, as they took home the gold.

“Every year is a new start. We have great new horses – but we also know the other teams have the same. We’re very lucky we’ve had such great trainers. As they say; it’s hard to get to the top and even harder to stay there. So that is our goal – to stay at the top,” said team rider, Dirk Schrade.

 

The Brits and the Germans

 

Initially, the battle was set between the German and Brits, but early on the British were out. In the cross country, Pippa Funnel had had a stop, and Lucy Wiegersma had a fall.

After some incredible rides, William Fox-Pitt ended up winning individual bronze on his horse, Chilli Morning – a single fence down in the show jumping cost him his second ranking.

So far, the 44-year old Brit has won more than 50 three-day-events – a record no other eventer has ever come close to.

Though he still lacks an individual gold medal he was relaxed about the whole thing.

“We’ve been very lucky. This is the first time we’ve not won a medal in twenty years.  But these things happen. And worse things happen. We’re going home with healthy horses and everyone in one piece,” said Fox-Pitt.

“You have to keep these things in perspective. We’re lucky that the competition went so well. It’s been a fantastic week that’s been very good for the sport with great riding. Now we have to focus on what we need to work on. But it’s important to keep the fun in, too,” he said. 

 

Swedish silver

 

While France took home the bronze the Swedes ended up taking silver – their first team medal in 14 years with Olympic silver medalist, Sara Algotsson on the squad. The finish was assured by 23-year old Frida Andersén’s clear round on the final day.

For Ludwig Svennerstål, who came close to winning individual bronze, the event marked the beginning of a new era.

“In Sweden, people are beginning to realize that eventing is an exiting sport. It started a little bit when Rolf-Göran Bengtsson won the European Championships in show jumping and then last year with Sara Algotsson at the Olympics. Now people are taking an interest in equestrian sports. Especially eventing which was unrecognized before.

 

“It’s a little bit like Formula One; there’s always something happening. It’s quite fast and exciting to watch.”

 

As it is quite small here we’ve struggled to get an event like this and people still need to understand the sport.

I think it’s a little bit like Formula One; there’s always something happening. It’s quite fast and exciting to watch,” said the Swede.

 

“We’re now trying to get more riders,” he continued. “It’s a long way and a difficult one where there’s no tradition in eventing. But its the key point to make the sport grow. We need to work harder and use the succes we’ve had so far to help grow the sport.”

 

 

Galloping on

Continues..

 

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