Dutch rider Marc Houtzager gives World of Showjumping his view on the European Championships in Aachen, and here is how he sums up yesterday's team final:
"I thought it was super course building yesterday! It opened quite ok with fence one-three, and then came the plank at four that caused so much trouble - especially in the beginning of the class. It jumped really bad, it was delicate and skinny - but even more because it was situated as it was away from the in-gate with many horses sliding a bit out to the right towards that direction. If you would have put it on a straight line with a distance I think it would have jumped very differently. It was clearly the joker fence of the competition. The triple combination jumped quite ok, and the water much better than I thought it would. It was exciting to the end with the double of verticals and the huge final oxer as well.
It was great sport yesterday, and close to the end. When Jur had one time fault, it kept the door open for Germany - and the pressure on for us.
We had a very good team here with four strong and experienced riders. Jeroen is amazing - he is just a championship rider, and always in the front when it counts. He impressed with his clear round as our first; there were already clears from the other teams chasing us, so the pressure was on - he knew he had to deliver and he did. Even when it is not, Jeroen just makes it look easy. That was a real motivation for the rest of our riders. Then we had a super clear from Maikel and Verdi - that has done so much for our team already. Jur also delivered a strong round, especially considering that this is a new level for his horse. For sure Gerco was disappointed with his round, but he knew we had won before he went in and for sure the concentration was a bit gone at this point.
Our Chef’d Equipe Rob Ehrens did a fantastic job - he picked just the right team for the job.
Our secret to success is maybe that we always stick together, not just at the championships but at any other show. We know each other well, and that makes us strong. Rob is also very good at keeping us together, but still leaving each of us in our own system - he never interferes too much. It’s the best mix you can give a team.
I am also really impressed with the job Eric van der Vleuten has done as Chef d’Equipe for Spain. Now they are qualified for Rio, and they have a really good team of horses and riders coming up. It was a shame what happened for the Irish team, Cian for sure lost a bit of concentration in the turn after what happened - we will have to see what the Irish federation does with it in the end.
Individually I think Sergio and Carlo look unbelievable - he rode amazing yesterday, and the horse jumped fantastic. If Jeroen can keep the control on Zenith for two more rounds I also believe he has a real medal chance. Luger was really unlucky yesterday, I though Chiara jumped great and I think he will bounce back tomorrow.
But still, you have to jump two clear rounds tomorrow and that will be very hard!"
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