Medals were hard-earned at the FEI European Jumping Championships for Children, Juniors and Young Riders 2014 at Arezzo Equestrian Centre in Italy where it wasn’t just the fences that tested competitors.
A tremendous rain-storm seriously disrupted the schedule last Thursday, resulting in major flooding and alterations to the programme of events and the poor weather continued over the following days. However both the organisers and athletes held their nerve to ensure a tremendous conclusion by Sunday afternoon.
There were 91 horse-and-rider combinations battling for the individual honours and 56 teams in action. A total of 25 countries were represented including Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and Turkey.
Young Riders Team
The first team gold medals were awarded to the Young Riders from Germany who pipped the Norwegian silver medallists by just a single fault while the host nation of Italy claimed the bronze.
As always, many of the competitors carried familiar surnames as they are sons and daughters of famous senior riders, and Maurice Tebbel, son of Rene Tebbel, produced one of two German clears in the opening round of the Young Riders team event with his bay gelding Cooper. However it was Angelina Herroder and her 11-year-old bay mare ABC Trixi who provided the most solid German score when double-clear. Tebbel faulted once in the second round, Niklas Krieg and Carelia collected a total of eight faults and Laura Klaphake and Nifrane de Kreisker followed a single first-round error with a zero at their second attempt to leave them on a final team tally of eight.
It was the single first-round time-fault picked up by Norwegian pathfinders Pal Flam and Skjerabergs Larkin that pinned Norway into silver medal position. The pair were awarded five faults on their first tour of the track, so when Maren Smedhaug and Caleandro picked up 20 for the discard score then the single mistake by Solveig Newermann and Wodka had to be taken into account to leave them on a total of nine faults after Benedikte Endresen and Super Sox went clear. Benedikte is daughter of Norwegian senior team-member Stein Endresen and was foot-perfect again in the second round when both Flam and Newermann also kept a clean sheet. But their first-round total still left the Norwegians a single penalty point behind the German champions.
It was neck-and-neck between the Norwegians and their Italian hosts at the halfway stage with both carrying nine faults into round two, but former Italian National Champion, Filippo Marco Bologni who is son of Italian veteran Arnaldo Bologni, produced the discard scores of 12 and 13 in each round, so the single mistake made by Francesca Ciriesi and Que Sera second time out had to be added to clears from both Matilde Giorgia Bianchi and Una Bella HS and Nicolo Vincenzo Callerio with Darius for a final total of 13 faults.
The three-man team from Spain led the way at the end of the first round on a zero score, but single errors from both Gonzalo Anon Suarez (Qlamp d’Ivraie) and Bartolome Mayol Parera (Macaco) had to be added to the eight picked by Jose Fumero Hernandez (Davinia R) for a fourth-place finish at the end of the day.
German Chef d’Equipe, Markus Merschformann, said he was “in seventh heaven!” after his team’s gold-medal-winning performance. He was particularly pleased because this was his first time to act as a team manager and it was a winning one. His team showed their deep appreciation for all his support and guidance by throwing him into the lake in the Arena Boccaccio after the prize-giving, so Herr Merschformann arrived into the post-competition press conference holding his shoes and wet from head to toe.
Young Riders Individual
It was Lisa Nooren, daughter of former Dutch star Henk Nooren who now manages the French Jumping team, who led the way with Flying Saucer Das Umburanas after the first Young Rider’s Individual competition, but by the end of the Team competition Germany held the reins with Herroder at the top of the leaderboard, Luthi in second and Klaphake in third.
However it was Sweden’s Irma Karlsson who won through when adding just four faults from the team event to finish on a total of 5.24 for the gold. Karlsson and her 10-year-old grey Cornet, by the great stallion Cornet Obolensky, never put a foot wrong over the two Individual Final rounds to climb up from sixth to stand on the top step of the podium.
Germany’s Kaya Luthi added just five faults to her scoreline in the second round of the Individual Final on Sunday to take the silver ahead of Klaphake in bronze while Benedikte Endresen impressed all the way through to finish just off the podium in fourth place on the Individual rankings.
The British came out on top in the Junior Team Championship, but not without a powerful challenge from the Dutch who pushed them to the very end. These team medals were decided in a two-way jump-off, with Germany already secure in bronze medal position.
Clears from both Jake Saywell (Grand Cru van Paemel) and Jessica Mendoza (Spirit T) ensured that only the four picked up by Millie Allen (Cantino) had to be lodged to the British account in the first round when Christie Pritchard’s 16 with Waldemar was the drop score. The Dutch kept pace with zero scores from both Kim Bril (Mallorca) and Jens van Grunsven (Whisper) whose sister, Demi van Grunsven (San Seral) produced the discard score of nine first time out while Kim Hoogenraat (Wishkarla) posted just four faults. Jens and Demi are nephew and niece of Dutch Dressage superstar Anky van Grunsven, so the competition gene is in their DNA.
And when both sides produced three clears in round two it came down to a jump-off for the gold, with the British emerging to reign supreme. Germany’s Theesa Ripke (Calmado), Laura Strehmel (DSP Lucie), Leonie Krieg (Champerlo) and Telke Carstensen (Cara Mia) racked up just eight faults for the bronze.
Norway’s Amalie Hegre (Remedy) led the way into the Junior Individual Final with Switzerland’s Estelle Wettstein (Bonita) next in line and Poland’s Andrzej Oplatek (El Camp) in third. However eight faults in the first round of the Final competition put paid to Oplatek’s chances while Wettstein’s single mistake in the first round cost her a medal placing.
Mendoza’s final-day double-clear moved her up from overnight sixth into Individual bronze medal spot behind Belgium’s Gilles Thomas who had been lying fifth but final ended up in silver medal spot with his 10-year-old mare Conaro.
Hegre meanwhile steered her 11-year-old mare Remedy into gold medal position in fine style without touching a pole.
The Children’s Team title went to Austria with Belgium taking silver, but it took another jump-off to settle the destination of the bronze medals in this category.
The Austrian victory was quite clear-cut, as Jessica Vonach (Withny), Stella Egger (Candyman) and Dominik Juffinger (Copido) all jumped clear for a zero score while Sebastian Gorton-Hulgerth (Estoril) collected a total of 28 faults. The Belgians came a close second with just single time faults from Emilie Conter (Fragil van t Paradijs) and Alexander Housen (Flicka) taken into account when Thibault Philippaerts (Lajolie 3) left just one pole on the floor and Maartje Verberckmoes (Cous Cous) left all the timber in place.
Germany and France battled it out for bronze when each racked up a four-fault total, and when the Germans once again kept a clean sheet while France added four faults the latter missed out on the team podium.
Great Britain’s Robert Murphy rode his last two rounds masterfully to take Children’s Individual gold at only his second European Championships. With grit and determination he guided his lively 11-year-old, Del Fuego, and in the prizegiving the hugely popular 13-year-old got a big cheer after struggling to climb onto the top step of the winner’s podium. Supported by a big crowd of spectators the young champion, who has been riding since the age of three, cleared the course in 46.66 seconds to clinch victory in the last round. And following the traditional dunking in the water jump, he presented an impressively professional front at the post-competition press conference during which he thanked all of his family, British Chef d’Equipe Claire Whitaker, and his groom, Jo, who looks after his horse so well.
Children’s Individual silver medallist, Italy’s Lorenzo Sciacca, also got great support from the crowd. The 14-year old from Sicily came very close to the gold medal but he picked up five penalties in 48.61 seconds in the jump-off to have to settle for the second step on the podium and breaking his own record of 22 rounds of jumping without a pole down this season.
Bronze went to the fast French rider Elisa Mellec riding Renarde Rumel who completed the jump-off with two poles on the floor in 41.80 seconds.
FEI Technical Delegate, Santiago Varela Ullcastres, described these Championships as “excellent, especially since there has been great flexibility on the part of the Organising Committee to be able to run everything to a high standard despite the frequent interruptions caused by the torrential rain!”
Course designer, Elio Travagliati who is a student of Uliano Vezzani, enjoyed his Championships debut. “I am very happy, and I have received congratulations from the Ground Jury and the FEI Technical Delegate,” he said. “I designed the courses in order to not only test the strength and the technical ability of the horses, but also the technical ability of the riders” he explained, while Ground Jury President, Bruno Laubscher, declared that the Championship Organising Committee “have given their all, considering that they have hosted three European Championships in one year!”
FEI European Jumping Championships for Children, Juniors and Young Riders 2014:
Young Rider Team Championship: GOLD - Germany 8 faults: ABC Trixi (Angelina Herroder) 0/0, Cooper 75 (Maurice Tebbel) 0/4, Carella 5 (Niklas Krieg) 4/4, Nifrande de Kreisker (Laura Klaphake) 4/0; SILVER - Norway 9 faults: Skjerabergs Larkin (Pal Flam) 5/0, Wodka (Solveig Newermann) 4/0, Caleandro (Maren Smedhaug) 20/9, Super Sox (Bekedikte Endresen) 0/0; BRONZE - Italy 13 faults: Una Bella HS (Matilde Giorgia Bianchi) 5/0, Fixdesign Chopin (Filippo Marco Bologni) 12/13, Que Sera (Francesca Ciriesi) 0/4, Darius (Nicolo Vincenzo Callerio) 4/0.
Young Rider Individual Championship: GOLD - Cornet (Irma Karlsson) SWE 5.24; SILVER - Pret A Tout (Kaya Luthi) GER 7.78; BRONZE - Nifrane de Kreisker (Laura Klaphake) 8.50.
Junior Team Championship: GOLD - Great Britain 4 faults, 0 in jump-off: Grand Cru van Paemel (Jake Saywell) 0/0, Waldemar (Christie Pritchard) 16/8, Cantino (Millie Allen) 4/0, Spirit T (Jessica Mendoza) 0/0; SILVER - Netherlands 4 faults, Ret in jump-off: (Kim Hoogenraat) 4/4, Mallorca (Kim Bril) 0/0, San Serai 3 (Demi van Grunsven) 9/0, Whisper (Jens van Grunsven) 0/0; BRONZE - Germany 8 faults: Calmado 53 (Theresa Ripke) 4/0, DSP Lucie (Laura Strehmel) 14/0, Champerio (Leonie Krieg0 0/4, Cara Mia (Telke Carstensen) 4/0.
Junior Individual Championship: GOLD - Remedy (Amalie Hegre) NOR 1.13; SILVER - Conaro (Gilles Thomas) BEL 4.66; BRONZE - Spirit T (Jessica Mendoza) GBR 5.01.
Children’s Team Championship: GOLD - Austria 0: Withny 4 (Jessica Vonach) 0/0/0, Candymn (Stella Egger) 0/0/0, Estoril (Sebastian Gorton-Hulgerth) 4/16/8, Copido 2 (Dominik Juffinger) 0/0/0; SILVER - Belgium 2 faults: Flicka (Alexander Housen) 0/1/4, Lajolie (Thibault Philippaerts) 0/4/0, Cous Cous (Maartje Verberckmoes) 0/0/0, Fragile van t Paradijs (Emilie Conter) 0/0/1: BRONZE - Germany 4 faults, 0 in jump-off: Florida Lady Ixes 77 (Max Haunhorst) 0/4/4, Venetzia (Beeke Carstensen) 0/0/4, Quanita (Laura Hetzel) 0/0/0, City 10 (Marec Danekas) 0/0/0.
Children’s Individual Championship: GOLD - Del Fuego (Robert Murphy) GBR 0/0 46.56 in jump-off: SILVER - Webster (Lorenzo Sciacca) ITA 0/0 48.61 in jump-off: BRONZE - Renarde Rumel (Elisa Mellec) FRA 0/8 in jump-off.