The first day of the European Championships saw Ben Maher and Cella (Cento x Chin Chin) taking the lead ahead of Steve Guerdat with Nino des Buissonnets (Kannan x Narcos II) and Roger Yves Bost with Castles Forbes Myrtille Paulois (Dollar du Murier x Grand Veneur). In the team competition France has a huge lead, followed by Great Britain and Switzerland.
The speed competition had all you look for the first day of a championship. Some surprises, some disappointments and lots of nerves and excitement as 78 riders made their way through Frank Rothenberger’s 13 fences and 16 jumps. 22 riders were clear, but as penalties were added to the time, there were two fast riders on four faults among the top ten; Jens Fredricson and Patrice Delaveau.
The Italian riders impressed with three clear riders; Juan Carlos Garcia and Prince de la Mare (Bequin de Moens x Socrate de Chivre) Piergiorgio Bucci and the very well jumping Casall-gelding Casallo Z, as well as Luca Maria Moneta and Neptune Brecourt (Cumano x Kayack).
France saw very good rounds from Roger-Yves Bost aboard Castles Forbes Myrtille Paulois (Dollar du Murier x Grand Veneur), former European Champion Kevin Staut and Silvana HDC (Corland x Widor) and Patrice Delaveau riding Orient Express (Quick Star x Le Tot de Semilly). Also their fourth rider, Aymeric de Ponnat and Armitages Boy (Armitage x Feo) had a very good round, finishing with four faults.
The British team, currently the runners-up, only had one clear rider with Ben and Cella. Scott Brash rode a good round o a well jumping Hello Sanctos (Quasimodo vd Molendreef x Nabab de Reve), but they were unlucky already at fence two and had to add four faults to their time, finally ending as number fourteen. Michael Whitaker and Viking (Jacomar x Almox Prints) had one down while William Funnel and Billy Congo (Vechta x Animo Elite) had two.
The Netherlands and Sweden on the other did not perform as well as one could have expected. Angelica Augustsson had big problems controlling her red mare, Mic Mac du Tillard (Cruising x Galoubet A), around the arena in Herning. Several poles fell and the Swedish rider also made a circle between fence 11 - a big water oxer - and the triple combination. The distance made problems for several riders as one could choose between eight and nine strides - a choice many riders made a little too late towards 12A. After crossing the finish line Angelica and Mic Mac got disqualified as they had jumped fence number nine instead of fence number six. Henrik von Eckermann and Gotha (Goldfever x Prestige Pilot) had two fences down, 11 and 12C, and Henrik did not look happy after his round. Jens Fredricson and the defending European Champion, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, made the Swedish day slightly better, ending as number six and seven.
For the Netherlands, debutant Willem Greve was the only clear rider aboard a very well jumping Carambole (Cassini I x Concerto II), while Jur Vrieling, Jeroen Dubbeldam and Maikel van der Vleuten had four, eight and twelve faults respectively.
The home crowd were very pleased as both Sören Pedersen and Andreas Schou were clear, although their times were not good enough for a place among the top 15. The audience made sure to make a good atmosphere in the arena, even though the stands were far from full on the first day of the Championship.
Both Sergio Alvares Moya and Ludo Philippaerts were clear until the last fence where they both got the front pole of the oxer, while three of the German riders had problems in the triple combination as Carsten-Otto Nagel, Ludger Beerbaum and Christian Ahlmann all had one fence down there. Daniel Deusser and Cornet d’Amour (Cornet Obolensky x Damiani) on the other hand, did not touch one pole as the grey gelding showed amazing jumping around the arena.
Switzerland’s young talent Janika Sprunger and the Olympic Champion, Steve Guerdat, were both clear and their horses seem to be on great form for their tasks in Herning. As both Pius Schwizer and Paul Estermann also performed well on four faults, the Swiss team have a good position ahead of tomorrow’s team competition.
Other riders and horses who deserves to be mentioned are Pilar Cordon and Coriana van Klapscheut (Darco x Heartbreaker), Cameron Hanley and Antello Z (Animo II Z x Continue), Kevin Staut and Silvana HDC (Corland x Widor) and Luciana Diniz and Winningmood (Darco x Cassini). The young Belgian rider Jos Verlooy also impressed in his first senior championships, as he rode a clear round with Domino (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Azur Depaulstra.
Tomorrow morning it is time for the first day of the team competition. All teams and riders bring today’s faults with them as they come to start tomorrow, and all team riders get to ride for their team tomorrow, including the ones disqualified today.
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