After day two at the European Championships in Herning, its Great Britain that leads the way – both in the team competition and individually as Ben Maher is in the lead with Cella. It was a very exciting competition, where the top three teams from yesterday continued to produce great results – only with Great Britain and Switzerland climbing up to rank one and two, on the expense of yesterday’s best nation France that dropped down to rank three. The top three individual riders from yesterday’s first round – Ben Maher, Steve Guerdat and Roger-Yves Bost – were also still the best individually after today’s second round as they all produced amazing clear rounds.
The first part of the team competition consisted of the nine lowest ranked teams. Plenty of faults came here, but there were highlights – such as Athina Onassis de Miranda’s lovely clear on AD Camille Z, and the four fault rounds delivered by Norway’s Stein Endresen, Finland’s Henri Kovacs and Denmark’s Andreas Schou who also had a time penalty. The last to go in this part of the competition was Portugal’s Luciana Diniz on the lovely Wininngmood (Darco x Cassini) who produced one of her trademark beautiful rounds – only to catch a time penalty. Diniz’s good riding has placed her 5th on the overall standings with a score of 1.85.
Frank Rothenberger and Bo Bak Andersen’s track consisted of thirteen fences and sixteen jumps – and was set at 1.60. The line from 6a and b – a vertical oxer combination – to the open water caught quite a few. But the real trouble for most of the riders came at the triple combination’s second element – a narrow red oxer that followed the a-element that was the triple bar. Hard to judge for the horses, and not so easy to ride to for the jockeys – it really gave some head ache as it continued to come down for one rider after the other.
The first clear from the riders representing the top ten teams came from Holland’s Jur Vrieling and VDL Bubalu (Baloubet du Rouet x Nimmerdor). Then followed Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya, who was very unlucky yesterday to have the last fence down. A determined Sergio went to work on the lovely grey gelding Carlo (Contender x Cascavell), and rode a phenomenal clear round. Three more clears came from the teams’s pathfinders; Italy’s Luca Maria Moneta did a fantastic job on the eccentric Neptune Brecourt (Cumano x Kayack) – who was clever to manage to leave the b-element of the combination intact, Germany’s Daniel Deusser did a super clear on Cornet D’Amour (Cornet Obolensky x Damiani) – although he really had to work to the water and in the triple combination and then Ben Maher made it all look easy on the impressive mare Cella (Cento x Chin Chin). Maher’s clear also sealed his individual lead in the championships.
Among the second riders, Belgium’s Jos Verlooy impressed the most. Only 17 years of age Verlooy displayed some impressive riding on the clever Domino (Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Azur Depaulstra), riding a clear round. Switzerland’s Paul Estermann on Castlefield Eclipse (Obos Quality) and Great Britain’s Michael Whitaker on Viking (Jacomar x Almox Prints) were also clear – and as France’s two first riders both had a fence down things started to get exciting with the Swiss and British teams breathing the French riders down the neck.
Sweden’s first clear came from Henrik von Eckermann on Gotha FRH (Goldfever x Prestige Pilot), making things look slightly brighter for the blue and yellows. For Ireland Shane Breen was the only clear of the day on the beautiful Baloon (Balou de Rouet x Landcapitol) – in the end the Irish team ended on a score of 22.42 and ninth on the overall standing, only with Spain behind them at 23.77.
Switzerland continued to impress in round three with Janika Sprunger going clear on the bouncy Palloubet d’Halong (Baloubet du Rouet x Muguet de Manoir), while Great Britain could not deliver with William Funnell having three down on Billy Congo (Vechta x Animo). France’s third rider – Roger Yves Bost – really pulled it out of the bag on a very well jumping Castle Forbes Myrtille Palouis (Dollar du Murier x Grand Veneur), and went clear again to end on a individual score of only 0.57.
Ahead of the team’s anchor riders, France was in the lead on a score of 7.14, while Great Britain followed in second on 8.18 and then Switzerland on 8.45. Six of these anchor riders delivered clear rounds; the first came from Belgium’s Ludo Philippaerts on Challenge V. Begijnakker (Chellano Z x Palestro V. Begijnakker) whose result made it possible to discharge his son Nicola’s eight penalties – placing Belgium as rank eight with a score of 16.88. Holland’s Jeroen Dubbeldam redeemed himself from yesterday, and rode a tremendous clear on Utascha SFN (Lux Z x Indoctro) – contributing to a climb for Netherlands on the rankings as they now lay as six on a score of 16.61 ahead of tomorrow’s team final.
Reigning European Champion Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Casall Ask (Caretino x Lavall I) also delivered – leaving all the fences intact, making sure the Swedes could discharge Jens Fredricson’s 20 faults – to climb to 5th on the overall standings on a score of 13.44. Rolf’s fabulous performance put him fourth on the individual standings with a score of 1.63, climbing up from yesterday’s speed leg. Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum also showed his skills to go clear on Chiara (Contender x Coronado), contributing to Germany’s position as number four at a score of 12.77 ahead of tomorrow’s final.
With the top three teams being so close on the score board, it was very exciting as Steve Guerdat entered the ring for Switzerland on his Olympic Champion Nino des Buissonnets (Kannak x Narcos II). Yet again Steve rode an amazing clear, and Nino looked fantastic as he made light work of the track. Their performance meant that none of the Swiss riders had touched a pole – and Pius Schwizer’s one time penalty could be discharged so that their total score ended on 8.45 which was what the team entered today’s competition on.
Great Britain’s Scott Brash was next in the ring in Herning. No stranger to pressure after competing at the London Olympics last year, Brash stayed calmed and rode a lovely clear on Hello Sanctos (Quasimodo vd Molendreef x Nabab de Reve). His tremendous round meant that Funnell’s twelve penalties could be discharged and the Brits stayed on a score of 8.18 – what was what they brought in today.
France had the opportunity to maintain their lead if Kevin Staut was clear. That was not to be though, and Silvana HDC (Corland x Widor) looked like she had lost all her petrol as she was half way already rubbing the combination at 6ab pretty hard before she put a foot in the water and then had the final vertical down to finish on eight penalties – dropping France down to third on a score of 11.14 and Kevin down to rank 29.
The ten best teams – which were the teams in today’s second part of the competition – move on to tomorrow’s final.
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