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As good as gold: Peder Fredricson and H&M All In European Champions 2017

Sunday, 27 August 2017
European Championships 2017

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson That's what it feels like to become European Champion on home soil: Peder Fredricson gives H&M All In a big hug as gold is secured. All photos (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Not even an Oscar-winning director could have scripted it better, as Peder Fredricson (SWE) and H&M All In (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Andiamo Z) concluded the Longines FEI European Championships with a gold medal on home soil in Gothenburg on Sunday afternoon.

A thriller to the last fence had been jumped, Fredricson brought it right down the wire when he took the middle element of the triple down on his way home – reducing his penalty difference to silver medallist Harrie Smolders (NED) and Don VHP Z (Diamant de Semilly x Voltaire) from 5.52 to 0.52 within a few seconds. Team gold medallists Cian O’Connor (IRL) and Good Luck (Canturo x Furioso) had one fence down in the second round, dropping from silver to bronze position – nevertheless going home from Gothenburg with two medals, just like Fredricson and H&M All In.

After the first round of the final, Fredricson was still in the lead on a zero-penalty score – but the rest of the top three had changed with O’Connor moving up to silver medal position and Harrie Smolders sitting on the bronze. 

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson The podium: Peder Fredricson, Harrie Smolders and Cian O'Connor.

The first-round track was again a master piece delivered by course builder Louis Konickx (NED) and his assistant Peter Lundström’s (SWE), who deserve praise for their spot-on design during the championships. Counting twelve fences that included several delicate lines, an open water at fence 8 coming from the in-gate as well as an imposing triple combination at 10abc where horses had to back off on two strides to the upright middle element after jumping a huge oxer in and then stretching on one stride out to make it over the wide oxer at c. Faults spread out, but the blue Gothenburg oxer at fence two caught several out as horses were drawn deep in and hit the front pole: Victims here were riders such as Steve Guerdat (SUI), Pieter Devos (BEL) and Alberto Zorzi (ITA) – the two latter sitting close to the medals in 6th and 5th respectively ahead of today’s individual final, but now dropping down.

Eight riders managed to jump clear in the first round, with Christian Rhomberg (AUT) being the one to find the key after Laura Klaphake (GER) had gone around with only a time penalty. Four riders later two Belgians delivered with both Jerome Guery and Niels Bruynseels keeping their scores of 9.22 and 8.84 after fantastic clear rounds. A couple of riders later Friday’s team gold medallist Denis Lynch (IRL) joined in with All Star 5 (Argentinus x Alme), and as did Philipp Weishaupt and L.B. Convall (Colman x Cascavelle) that did a picture-perfect round to keep on their score of 6.73.

Then the pressure came on those up in front: Harrie Smolders on Don VHP Z sitting on a score of 5.52 worked their way around to produce a clear round – leaving little room for error for those to come. And when Marcus Ehning (GER) and Danielle Goldstein (ISR) both had the middle element in the triple combination down, and Devos and Zorzi faulted on the second fence it became expensive indeed – Smolders climbed up the ranks.

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Harrie Smolders celebrates securing a medal on Don VHP Z.

O’Connor – already with team gold in his pocket – made light work of the course on the expressive and huge-jumping Good Luck, and now the top three could feel the dragon’s hot breath in their necks. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) could not keep it together, and Chaqui Z (Chacco Blue x Quinar) hit the oxer at 10c – dropping them down the list and it was even worse for Martin Fuchs (SUI) in silver medal position with Clooney 51 (Cornet Obolensky x Ferreagamo) who took both 4a and 10a down to finish their championship campaign right there.

Home hero Peder Fredricson and H&M All In however, managed to handle it all. Although rattling the front pole on the oxer at siz, and then pushing the spectators to the edge of their seats when jumping in on a big stride into the triple combination to then really have to work to get out – they kept the course intact to stay in the lead on their zero-penalty score as the crowds went wild at Ullevi.

Coming into the second round, only 2.25 penalties separated Fredricson and O’Connor – there would be no room for any errors. In 5.52 followed Smolders, with Sweetnam just behind on 6.10 while Weishaupt found himself in 5th with a score of 6.73 – between the rider in silver position and the one just outside the podium it was only a single rail. No one could slip if they wanted a medal.

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson First gold, then bronze: It's been a good week for Cian O'Connor and Good Luck in Gothenburg!

In the end, it would be all about the top three. Third last in the ring to jump Konickx’s final track in Gothenburg, Smolders went to work on the big striding 13-year-old stallion. Ten fences waited, with some last power being needed on the concluding line with a triple combination at 9abc – a vertical-oxer-oxer – followed by six strides to a big Longines oxer. Supporting Don VHP Z with his incredible riding, Smolders produced yet another clear round at Ullevi – finishing on his score of 5.52 picked up on the two first days of competition and was guaranteed a medal, the question was which one it would be.

Even the ice-cold O’Connor must have felt it as he entered the ring, slowly you could hear a pin drop – it was getting dead serious. After not touching a pole over the previous four rounds in Gothenburg, it came as a big surprise when the 11-year-old stallion Good Luck hit the top rail on the upright at five and now O’Connor had to bring it home with no more errors. This he managed, and despite the rail dropping him to bronze position behind Smolders O’Connor did not seem disappointed – leaving the ring with a big smile on his face after a fantastic championship.

The tension could be touched as Fredricson entered the ring, it was almost as time was standing still as he set off towards the first fence with his tiny warrior H&M All In. Fence by fence, they came closer to their second medal – but there was not much room for error, one rail down would be ok but not two as it would put them completely out of the medals. So, when a pole on the middle oxer in the triple combination fell a gasp went through the Swedish spectators. Would they manage to keep it together? The crowds held their breath as Peder approached the last oxer, only to erupt in a standing ovation that must have been heard all the way to the Fredricson’s yard in Skåne some 300 kilometers away: The home heroes were the European Champions, it was the perfect conclusion for the Swedes – a real-life The End as the curtains closed at Ullevi Stadium. 


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