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Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Ninja La Silla are the new European Champions! After two brilliant rounds in the final today, Rolf could climb to the top of the podium to receive the gold medal! After round one Gerco Schröder was in the lead with Carsten-Otto Nagel right behind him, but when the latter had one fence down in the second round and Gerco took two with him Rolf could celebrate his first gold medal ever.
After round one eight riders were left with clear rounds. Pius Schwizer on Carlina was the first to deliver one, and really set his ten year old mare up for the last difficult line. Jeroen Dubbeldam was the next to ride clear, and then came Swedish Henrik von Eckermann on Coupe de Coeur leaving all the poles intact. Maybe Ludger should leave the horse to Henrik who has done so well on the stallion?
Henrik’s superior Marco Kutscher on Cornet Obolensky showed they were on form with an amazing clear round, as did Beat Mändli – third on the first day. European Champion from Windsor Kevin Staut had the back pole on the oxer at fence five down, and also experienced a bit of drama when the gate at the last fence blew away as the French rider was approaching the last line.
Michel Robert, Rolf-Göran and Gerco Schröder all produced clear rounds – but top two riders Nick Skelton and Carsten-Otto Nagel each had to see the back pole at fence five fall to the ground; “My horse shifted a little to the right towards the gate,” Nick said afterwards. Most errors on the course came at 12b – the last fence of the course, although some got in trouble on the oxer at fence five as well. The last line consisted of a combination to water to combinationand was tricky enough. A total of eight clears were ridden among the 23 riders in the first round, and riders praised the tracks Santiago Varela build in Madrid as they didn’t empty the horses.
Two Irish riders were the first to go clear in the second round, which was shorter than the first; Shane Sweetnam and Billy Twomey. Then followed a bad fall from Eric van der Vleuten and VDL Groep Utascha on the vertical at fence one; the horse rotated and fell on its back. Luckily both horse and rider could walk out in one piece. Ludger Beermbaum on Gotha, Penelope Leprevost on Mylord Carthago and Jeroen Dubbeldam all rode clears – Jeroen had one of only two double clears of the day.
Henrik von Eckermann followed with yet another clear; Coupe de Coeur – one of two horses in the final owned by Madeleine Winter-Schulze – seems so comfortable and relaxed with the Swedish rider. Henrik was the second rider to have a double clear; quite an achievement as this is a horse that Henrik has been allowed to use for the championship with only two shows before Madrid. Henrik was left with a score of 10.24. Marco, Beat, Luciana – one of only two girls in the second round of the final – and Michel followed and all had fences down.
Rolf was next to go with Nina La Silla, and a medal was within reach. It felt as time stood still while the Swedish rider rode around Santiago Varela’s much appreciated track. When Ninja touched the FEI oxer it looked like it would fall and that Rolf’s medal chances would disappeared, but the pole stayed in the cups and Rolf could finally cross the finish line with one time penalty and a total of only 6.77 penalties.
Nick Skelton then entered the arena on a score of 5.04. Carlo has been jumping amazing throughout the week, but as in the first round the grey gelding would drop a foot down to roll the poll out on the vertical at 8a and the British pair were left at 9.04.
Everybody believed that the silver medalists from Windsor – Carsten-Otto Nagel and Corradina – would take the climb up to the top of the podium. But Carsten-Otto yet again suffered the same faith as Nick and saw fence 8a fall to the ground, leaving this amazing pair on a score of 8.69.
One could hear a pin drop when Gerco Schröder came in to the ring on Eurocommerce New Orleans. After missing out on a medal in the team competition Friday hopes were high and the Dutch had their fingers crossed. Gerco could have one down and still be on the podium, but not two. So when New Orleans hit fence five – an oxer – the chance was still there. But in showjumping nothing is decided until the last fence is jumped, and when the eleven year old gelding hit the last fence Gerco had to see his medal chances gone with a score of 9.54. The day belonged to Sweden, and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson got a much deserved gold medal!
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