Roger Yves Bost and Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois (Dollar du Murier x Grand Veneur) were crowned European Champions in Herning today. The French super pair has not touched a single rail during the championships, and after four rounds they were only left with a score of 1.58. It was exciting to the bitter end in the individual final, as Bosty could not afford one pole down as last in the ring – then his gold would be lost to Britain’s Ben Maher.
But the sympathetic French rider showed no nerves and jumped a clear second round to bring the gold home to France. Ben Maher – the leader ahead of today’s final – had a surprising and costly pole down on Cella (Cento x Chin Chin) in round one as the back rail on the oxer at ten came down, which pushed him down to silver position. The second medal of the day for Great Britain was brought home by Scott Brash who displayed fantastic riding on Hello Sanctos (Quasimodo vd Molendreef x Nabab de Reve) with the only double clear of the day – impressing everybody.
Today’s competition had it all – for some it was extremely rewarding, for others it was heartbreaking. The first round track designed by Frank Rothenberger asked a lot from the riders and their horses. But when difficulty was added by the fact that the time allowed was changed with five seconds after only one rider – the always fast Luca Maria Moneta – it was an ingredient that made the questions asked almost impossible to answer as only eight riders finished without time faults.
The first track consisted of twelve fences and fifteen jumps, and the tricky parts was especially the line from the oxer on six where the riders could choose seven or eight strides to the triple combination – which again was followed by four very long strides to the FEI vertical at eight. With 20 meters on this line, some riders even put in five strides here. The final line caused the most head ache though, with either six long or seven very short strides from the penultimate oxer down to the final vertical-vertical combination where it was extremely short on two strides – and it got even more tricky by the fact that the riders had to chase the time.
The first rider of the 25 in the final that managed to leave the fences in one piece was Britain’s veteran Michael Whitaker – who did an impressive job on Viking (Jacomar x Almox Prints), only to pick up a single time fault. In the end it was good enough to climb up to ninth position for the 53 year old rider.
It was not until rider number 16 entered the ring that the first clear came, and it was the extremely well riding Scott Brash that delivered it. The British rider’s round on his Olympic gold winning mount Hello Sanctos was simply out of this world – it was just one of those rounds that take your breath away as Brash tackled one difficulty after another with such impressive skills that it is hard to describe. The 27 year old really had to work on the final line though, and got it extremely short out as he did the line on six strides – but it kept him within the time allowed.
Three riders later Olympic Champion Steve Guerdat showed that he wanted to fight for the medals, and rode a tremendous round on Nino des Buissonnets (Kannan x Narcos II) – to go clear. Nino really made it exciting though, and rubbed the c-element on the triple quite hard and also touched the a-element of the final combination as Steve came close in on seven strides.
For the three next riders, the medal chances faded as they all had a pole down each; Ludger Beerbaum and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson came in trouble on the final combination, while Daniel Deusser had the FEI vertical down.
Bosty could not be stopped by any of the challenges though, as he went to work on Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois. Unconventional in style he might be, but there is no doubt that the French rider has feeling for was he does. His tidiness in regards to the tricky tasks asked caused him one time penalty though, but it was still good enough for the lead with only one to go in the first round. With a zero penalty score Ben entered the ring with Jane Clark’s remarkable mare Cella. Very surprisingly though, Ben had the backpole at the oxer at ten down – being the only rider to fault at this fence and leaving the ring in second position on a score of four, leaving the lead to Bosty and then feeling Steve, Rolf and Scott all breathing him in the neck as they were 0.29, 1.63 and 2.72 penalties behind.
Nineteen riders returned for the second round, and the track this time around left a lot more room for normal heartbeat. It was still difficult though, and a lot of faults came on the Danish plank at fence seven that followed on a line from the FEI vertical with a water tray in front – where the riders could choose either six or seven strides. The final triple combination was the heartbreaker of the track though, and it claimed victims such as Christian Ahlmann, Ludger Beerbaum and Daniel Deusser – to mention some. For Deusser and Beerbaum – who were rank six and seven ahead of the second round – it also send them out of the medal contest.
Setting the record straight after Thursday’s one down – Scott Brash went clear again on Lord and Lady Harris’ and Lady Kirkham’s Hello Sanctos. Although making it very exciting to the Rolex oxer at fence five – Brash seemed not to quite make up his mind on which stride to go for – the rest was pretty much a walk in the park for this super pair. Crossing the finish line on a clean sheet, Scott put some real pressure on the remaining four, ending on an overall score of 6.72 to eventually win this class.
Both reigning European Champion from Madrid – Rolf-Göran Bengtsson – and Guerdat faulted today though, and could not deliver what Scott did. Although Bengtsson rode a very nice round on Casall Ask (Caretino x Lavall II), the back pole on the b-element in the triple jumped out of the cups to leave him at an ending score of 9.63. Steve’s performance was slightly more shocking though as the Swiss rider got a stop on the middle oxer of the triple combination – and then had it down as he came again on Nino. With twelve penalties, it was game over for Steve – and it showed exactly how unforgiving the sport can sometimes be.
Ben was next in, and he delivered! Cella jumped super – and a small rub on the Rolex oxer was all there was, but it all stayed intact for the two which really made things heat up as Bosty entered the ring on his score of 1.58. With less than a pole down to Ben the French rider really had to keep both his nerves and his excited thirteen old French bred mare under control – but that was apparently no difficult task for him. Keeping the crowds on their toes as he came into the triple combination, Bosty showed no mercy to his competitors and crossed the finish line clear to celebrate that he was European Champion - a much deserved title for the French rider and Lady Georgina Forbes' Myrtille Paulois!
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