Friday, May. 24, 2024

Germans Take Record-Breaking Lead At HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships

Outstanding performances by Germany’s Ingrid Klimke and Michael Jung have put the home side into a fabulously strong position before the cross-country phase at the HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships at Luhmühlen, Germany.

The host nation, bidding for a first European team gold since 1973, is now more than 20 penalties ahead of defending champions Great Britain as the first team to score under 100 in the dressage phase at European level. The Italians, who won silver in 2009, hold a fractional advantage in third over Sweden, who last won gold back in 1993.

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Outstanding performances by Germany’s Ingrid Klimke and Michael Jung have put the home side into a fabulously strong position before the cross-country phase at the HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships at Luhmühlen, Germany.

The host nation, bidding for a first European team gold since 1973, is now more than 20 penalties ahead of defending champions Great Britain as the first team to score under 100 in the dressage phase at European level. The Italians, who won silver in 2009, hold a fractional advantage in third over Sweden, who last won gold back in 1993.

Klimke is no stranger to brilliance in the dressage arena, but even she was overwhelmed by FRH Butts Abraxxas’s mark of 30.0, which included six 10s: three for the entry and halt; two for her final halt; and one, from ground jury member Christoph Hess, for her riding.

“Hans Melzer [the German team trainer] told me I should do a 29, so he put me under pressure,” Klimke revealed.

The ever-smiling Klimke also admitted to despondency after her fall at the Badminton CCI**** (England) in April, in which she suffered a knee injury, which kept her out of the saddle for 12 weeks.

“I was very depressed about it all because I just love to ride,” she said. “But then Abraxxas was in good shape at Aachen and Mälmo, and now I’m just thankful to be here.

“It’s wonderful because we have so many friends here on home ground and, with Germany running 12 riders [as host nation], it’s a case of ‘one team, one dream.’ Our team atmosphere is full of positives,” she continued.

Jung showed the mark of a world champion, holding it all together to post a score of 33.3, despite a nervous start when La Biosthetique Sam broke in the first medium trot.

“I tried to take a break, breathe hard and relax,” he said. “I had to make the horse concentrate, but I wasn’t sure how much I could ask for.”

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Germany’s Frank Ostholt, who was also reveling in the atmosphere, chose a good day to score his first ever 10s, for his entry and for his final halt. He is now lying third on Little Paint.

“I know I have a fantastic horse, but it’s another thing in the arena. However, I don’t think this is going to be a dressage competition,” he said.

Ostholt has been a member of the senior German squad since 1993, but individual glory has eluded him, his best result being fourth place at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany, and he’s competing as an individual.

“I didn’t expect to be on the team this time,” he explained. “Little Paint has had two years off and, although it was fantastic to be third at the Luhmühlen CCI**** in June, our preparation has not been 100 percent. But I have never won an individual medal, so maybe this year will be it.”

Britain’s Laura Collett got her senior championship debut off to a flying start. She is lying equal fourth with Sandra Auffarth (Germany). Her only mistake in a beautifully presented test was when Rayef bounded forward in the second flying change.

“He went to change early, I said ‘no,’ and it all happened too early. He was a bit surprised,” explained the 21-year-old, who has already won junior and young rider European titles on Rayef. If she completes the set this weekend, it will be a record.

Ten riders achieved sub-40 marks. Stefano Brecciaroli (Italy), former dual European Champion Nicolas Touzaint (France), riding the relatively inexperienced Neptune de Sartene, and Mary King (Great Britain), who managed to contain the exuberant Imperial Cavalier, all pulled their respective team scores up.

William Fox-Pitt (Great Britain), whose test on world silver medalist Cool Mountain was marred by resistance, notably in the reinback, commented, “We’ll need a bit of luck on our side tomorrow.”

Like all riders, he is viewing course designer Mark Phillips’ cross-country track with respect. “There’s a lot of room for error, and it’s definitely got a sting in the tail,” he said. This is a reference to the penultimate combination, the Rolex Turn (fence 27) where a big ditch-and-brush is followed by a four-stride turn to a corner and another four strides to a narrow fence.

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“I think most riders will take the long route,” predicted Fox-Pitt. “The risk factor seems greater than the time factor.”

The course runs in a reverse direction to usual, so even though Luhmühlen is a familiar venue for many, it will be a completely new test for all.

Course builder David Evans has excelled himself with his trademark carvings, which include fishing bears in the pool at the far end of the course from which spectators can see seven fences.

The ground is perfect, the weather is forecast to cool down, and, although the Germans appear to be running away with the medals, they know accuracy and focus are key.

“Horses will need to be able to see exactly where they are going, and riders will have to be precise,” warned Klimke.

Results

1. Ingrid Klimke/FRH Butts Abraxxas (GER*) 30.0
2. Michael Jung/La Biosthetique Sam (GER*) 33.3
3. Frank Ostholt/Little Paint (GER) 34.0
4T. Laura Collett/Rayef (GBR) 35.4
4T. Sandra Auffarth/Opgun Louvo (GER*) 35.4
6. Stefano Brecciaroli/Apollo van der Wendi Kurt Hoeve (ITA*) 35.8
7. Sara Algotsson-Ostholt/Wega (SWE*) 36.0
8. Dirk Schrade/King Artus (GER) 36.7
9. Nicolas Touzaint/Neptune de Sartene (FRA*) 37.9
10. Mary King/Imperial Cavalier (GBR*) 38.8
(* denotes team member)

Go to www.luhmuehlen.de for full results.

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