The winning team members from last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games have done it again, taking out the FEI European Championships at Aachen in front of a sell-out crowd of 40,000 spectators.
The team of Jeroen Dubbeldam, Maikel van der Vleuten, Jur Vrieling and Gerco Schroder, the same four riders who won gold at WEG 2014, put on an outstanding team performance, accumulating only one time penalty between the three riders whose scores counted towards the final result.
“This team is unbelievable, and it’s amazing to be part of this team,” Dubbeldam said.
“Everyone in this team watches as an individual, we leave each other alone and that is the strongest point about this team, as everyone knows what they have to do. Everyone knows their horses best and in the night we go and eat and have fun together, and during the day everyone does their own thing.”
The individual competition had a major change, with Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya taking over the lead, then a brilliant clear round propelled Cassio Rivetti from Ukraine into second place leaving Jeroen Dubbeldam in third.
The remaining medal places in the team competition were claimed by Germany in second and Switzerland, which performed a remarkable recovery following a disappointing performance on the first day of competition, in third. With the Dutch, German and French already qualified for Rio in 2016, they will now be joined by Switzerland, Great Britain, who finished in fourth place and Spain who finished sixth. Britain was just 0.76 penalties behind Switzerland in the final result.
Ireland finished in seventh place, missing Rio qualification, but there was controversy over the round of Cian O’Connor, whose only fault on course was after a member of the ground staff ran in front of his horse before the jump. Ireland lost its first objection against O’Connor’s result, but another appeal has been lodged.
As in 2013, Germany won silver medal. Chef d’Equipe Otto Becker said he was at first a little disappointed. “We tried our hardest, it was a tough battle and my team was super.”
The last rider in the ring, French rider Kevin Staut, decided who won the bronze medal. Up until then, France was still on course for bronze, but with Staut picking up eight faults, his team slipped down to fifth place. Instead, third place went to the Swiss team, the European Champions from 2009.
“We had a fantastic season,” said Chef d’Equipe Andy Kistler. “I was so happy after our last rider that we had succeeded in qualifying for the Olympic Games, that everything was decided for me and the jumping competition was over. So, I went away and was totally happy.”
He was ultimately completely surprised that his team had won a medal. “For us this medal is a huge extra gift!” The Swiss team comprised of Romain Duguet with Quorida de Treho, Martin Fuchs with Clooney, Janika Sprunger with Bonne Chance and Paul Estermann with Castlefield Eclipse.
With the qualification of its showjumping team, Great Britain will be represented by all four of its equestrian teams next year, in Jumping, Dressage and Eventing at the Olympics and at the Paralympic Games, Para-Equestrian Dressage.
After qualification was confirmed, elated British Chef d’Equipe Di Lampard said: “I’m just delighted to get qualified it was a fantastic team performance. They’ve all worked together, this is why we put this team together because they get on so well, they help each other, they discuss the courses throughout and they’ve supported each other through it.
“The first day was tremendous pressure because we knew on the speed leg we had got to be in there, we had to finish in the first five to stand any chance. Of course to get the clears in yesterday it was tremendous pressure and today!
“Definitely my biggest achievement, to get the country qualified for the Olympics – for me just to put the riders together, nothing touches this. I think the preparations [to get to Rio] will start this evening.”
On a day that featured 10 clear rounds, the Individual competition saw the overnight leader Penelope Leprevost swap standings with fifth placed Sergio Alvarez Moya, who is enjoying an outstanding Championships so far.
“I just try and jump as many clear rounds as possible and my horse is jumping great. I’m so happy for myself and all my team mates for the Olympic qualification,” said Alvarez Moya.
“We do not have so many horses and riders in Spain, so it’s quite a big effort for all of us just to get the horses ready. We are only four or five riders, so always have to rely on each other if one does not jump so well,” the winning rider said.
The Jumping competition now enjoys a rest day, with the Individual final taking place on Sunday. The top nine combinations are separated only by a single fence.
Final Results, Team Competition
4. Great Britain
Individual Standings following 2nd Individual qualifier
1. Sergio Alvarez Moya/Carlo 273 (ESP)
2. Cassio Rivetti/Vivant (UKR)
3. Jeroen Dubbeldam/SFN Zenith N.O.P. (NED)
4. Romain Duguet/Quorida de Treho (SUI)
5. Penelope Leprevost/Flora de Mariposa (FRA)