Germany favoured at European eventing champs

September 23, 2009

Germany is expected to give the dominant British side a run for their money at the European Eventing Championships this weekend.

The HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships kick off at Fontainebleau in France today, and features a line-up of 18 nations who have nominated riders, of which 11 could form teams.

France is renowned for its stylish international events, but this is the first time the internationally popular venue of Fontainebleau, with its splendid, historic chateau, has held a Senior Eventing Championship since the "alternative Olympics" in 1980.

The European Championship, held biennially, began in 1953, and since its inception, Great Britain has been the most successful nation, winning 20 team golds - including the last seven - and 17 individual golds.

Despite this lengthy dominance, the Brits will face an in-form German side. They are the reigning Olympic and World Champions, but have not won a European team gold for 40 years, an anomaly they will be out to correct and are seen as the strong favourites.

Even though France has won team silver 7 times since 1993 and individual gold with local hero Nicholas Touzaint in 2007, they have yet to win team gold. With the added motivation of being on home ground, they will be doing everything in their power to thrill their audience and go for team gold.

The nations with nominated entries are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Russia, Spain and Sweden.

The Ground Jury at Fontainebleau is headed by President David Lee (IRL) assisted by Anne Mette Binder (DEN) and Michel Asseray (FRA) and anticipation is building about the new-look cross-country course designed by French maestro Pierre Michelet.

The stats

France has hosted the FEI European Championships twice before, in Haras du Pin (1969) and Pau (2001)

France has won team silver 7 times since 1993

Supreme Rock (ridden by Pippa Funnell, GBR) is the only horse to have won back-to-back titles, in 1999 and 2001

Galan de Sauvagere (ridden by Nicolas Touzaint, FRA) has won the individual title twice, in 2003 and 2007

Ginny Elliot (GBR) is the only rider to have won the European title 3 times, which she did in succession in 1985, 1987 and 1989 - she is now team trainer to the Irish

Linda Algotsson (SWE) and Stand By Me have won 2 individual silver medals, in 1999 and 2003

William Fox-Pitt (GBR) has the most European medals: 5 team golds, 2 individual silvers - this will be his 7th European Championship

The only nations to have won team gold in the history of the Europeans are Great Britain, Ireland, Sweden, USSR and Germany