Ireland staged a dramatic rally in the show jumping phase of the Junior European Eventing Championships in England on Sunday to secure Team Gold for the second year in a row.
Galway’s 17 year-old team member Cathal Daniels, whose final clear round on Rioghan Rua clinched the team medal, also picked up the Individual Silver medal, behind Britain’s Anna Wilks on Touch of Pleasure, with Germany’s Jerome Robine in bronze with Quaddeldou R.
Defending champions Ireland, who were trailing Germany after the dressage and cross country phases over the previous two days, came into the show jumping arena at Bishop Burton and delivered six perfect clear rounds from both team and individual riders.
Germany were unable to match Ireland’s flawless showjumping display and fell back into silver medal position, with France beating Britain to take the bronze.
Cathal Daniels said afterwards: “It was all very tight at the top coming into today and all team members knew that we had to jump clear in order to take Gold. We’re all very good in the show jumping phase, with great horses, so that’s what we did.” Daniels, 17, was also on last year’s winning team when Ireland took gold at Jardy in France.
Bishop Burton College, in East Yorkshire, is the only College in the United Kingdom to hold Centre of Vocational Excellence status in both Agriculture and Equine, and has significant links to the sport as it has been hosting British Eventing Affiliated fixtures for more than 25 years. And Eric Winters’ exciting cross-country track, which winds its way through the picturesque Yorkshire countryside, proved highly influential in the end result.
A total of 78 horse-and-rider combinations from 16 nations lined up for the first horse inspection on Wednesday, and there was nothing predictable about this year’s fixture from the outset. Initially the British looked set to clinch their 19th team title after establishing the early lead in dressage, but cross-country day would change all that and, in the final analysis, the host nation missed out on the team podium when finishing fourth behind the French in bronze medal spot, Germany in silver and the Irish at the top of the order.
Individual gold medalist, Britain’s Anna Wilks, 17, was always challenging for Individual pole position, and, lying second after dressage, she added nothing to her scoreline to emerge champion ahead of Ireland’s Cathal Daniels in silver and Germany’s Jerome Robine in bronze.
Robine produced the only German clear, and when Rececca-Juana Gerken (Scipio S) picked up eight faults then the four each collected by Reemtsma and Knuppel had to be counted, dropping them to silver medal spot on a final score of 151.2 – just over two points behind the Irish. France lined up in bronze on a final tally of 159.4 and the British finished outside the medals with 162.41. But Wilks went a long way towards making up for the home side disappointment when jumping crisp and clear to take the Individual title in fine style.
Britain was ahead going into the cross-country, but the track was not for the faint-hearted, and Emily King’s fall with Brookleigh at the Elephant Trap at fence seven put paid to host-nation chances as Katie Bleloch and Bulano had already had a refusal at fence 14. Wilks and fourth team member Sam Ecroyd (Wodan IV) were clear, but the British tally of 162.10 now saw them slip out of a podium placing, and the team wouldn’t recover.
Winning rider Anna Wilks, from Oxfordshire, said afterwards: “I suppose it’s fair to say that show jumping is both mine and my horse’s strong point, as that’s what we did before getting into eventing, but you never dare to hope it will really all come together like it has!”
Horse Sport Ireland’s chairman Pat Wall said he was delighted with the win by the young Irish riders. “It was a tribute to their professionalism that the team riders kept such cool heads under pressure during the show jumping phase to enable them to take the Team Gold from overnight leaders Germany. Six consecutive clear rounds from the Irish was wonderful to watch, and Cathal Daniels’s final round that earned him Individual Silver was sheer class.
“It is gratifying to see so much talent in our Junior ranks, for these are the senior teams and individual riders of tomorrow. I’d also like to congratulate the parents, owners and the very talented support staff who helped us do what we did today. We also must thank the parents, the Irish Sports Council, Sport Northern Ireland, Eventing Ireland, sponsors GAIN Horse feeds/Glanbia and all our official suppliers.”
Reporting: Colin McLelland, Louise Parkes
FEI European Junior Team Eventing Championship:
GOLD - Ireland 149.1: Rioghan Rua (Cathal Daniels) 42.50, Carsonstown Athena (Susie Berry) 51.00, Tomboy (Nessa Briody) 55.60, Cleo Ferro (Lucy Latta (76.30);
SILVER - Germany 151.2: Quaddeldou R (Jerome Robine) 42.80, Scipio S (Rebecca-Juana Gerken) 51.50, Ikarosz (Flora Reemtsma) 56.90, Carismo (Hannah Knuppel) 61.40;
BRONZE - France 159.4: Smoufix Bois Margot (Justine Lacroix) 43.50, Early van ter Nieubeke (Victor Burtin) 57.30, Romeo de la Louviere (Maicke Bleuze) 58.60, Saga de Mei (Soizic Lefevre) 68.60.
FEI European Junior Individual Eventing Championship:
GOLD - Touch of Pleasure (Anna Wilks) GBR 41.20;
SILVER - Rioghan Rua (Cathal Daniels) IRL 42.50;
BRONZE - Quaddeldou R (Jerome Robine) GER 42.80.