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Faces and feelings in the team final of the FEI Jumping European Championship 2023

Tuesday, 05 September 2023
FEI Jumping European Championship 2023

When advancing from sitting 5th overnight to take the bronze medal in Friday's team final at the FEI Jumping European Championship 2023 in Milan, Italy, Austria made history as they finished on the podium for the first time since 1992 when they took silver at the Barcelona Olympics. Oldest on the Austrian team was Gerfried Puck – 50 – while the youngest was Alessandra Reich who is 26. Austria was also the only nation to have two female riders on their team.

While the Austrian riders had secured their Olympic qualification when finishing on a score of 22.77, they could almost not believe it when the Swiss and German teams dropped down the scoreboard with faults from all their riders apart from Steve Guerdat – handing the bronze to Austria. 

While Sweden claimed their third team title in just as many years in Milan – they are now reigning European, Olympic and world champions – it did not go quite as expected for Germany and Switzerland. The Germans were left with only three riders on the team, and dropped down to 4th as all their scores counted, while Switzerland – who came to Milan as title defenders from Riesenbeck – finished in a disappointing 6th place behind the Spanish riders who really impressed at San Siro. It was Spain and Switzerland that claimed the last two tickets for Paris, while Italy missed out. 

For the Austrian riders, it was a special day and Alessandra Reich's expression says it all. With the wonderful 9-year-old Oeli R, Reich impressed when finishing on four faults in both Thursday and Friday's rounds to help her team advance up the standings.

All photos © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping, all rights reserved. If copyright violations occur, a penalty fee will apply. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The calm before the storm... Ireland's Michael Duffy takes in the impressions of Uliano Vezzani's massive track.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ First out for the teams, Great Britain's Ben Maher and Faltic HB posted a superb clear round – their second of the championship.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Spain's Armando Trapote impressed everyone when jumping a double clear for the team on the small but mighty Tornado VS, helping them qualify for Paris.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Willem Greve came back strong in Friday's round to finish with only a time penalty for the Dutch team aboard Highway TN. However, it was not their championship and the Netherlands finished 7th overall.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Austria's pathfinder Gerfried Puck and Equitron Naxcel V set the tone for their team when finishing on only two time faults in Friday's round.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Michael Duffy and Cinca 3 impressed when delivering three clears over Wednesday, Thursday and Friday's rounds to help the Irish advance into silver position.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ It started well for the Swiss when Steve Guerdat and Dynamix de Belheme jumped their third clear for the team. Unfortunately, it did not last as their three last riders all failed to deliver the much-needed clear rounds which dropped them from their overnight 3rd place to 6th.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ A cookie for superstar Dynamix from Emma.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Ringmaster Pedro Cebulka made sure everything was running smoothly at San Siro.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Manuel Fernandez Saro's long-time groom Malin Jonasson celebrating a much needed clear round from Jarlin de Torres, which means she can now look forward to Paris 2024!

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Celebrations for Fanfa who really delivered when needed!

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Philipp Weishaupt's Zineday did his only mistake of the championship in Friday's round, when he had a pole on the upright at no. 3 down. With Germany left with only three horses, all scores counted and they dropped down from 1st to 4th.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Spanish details on Eduardo Alvarez Aznar's Bentley de Sury.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Italy's Emanuele Camilli opened strong with clear rounds on both Wednesday and Thursday riding the only 9-year-old Odense Odeveld. Unfortunately two poles fell in Friday's round, and Italy eventually finished 10th.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Austria's Max Kühner and Elektric Blue P delivered when it was needed the most, jumping clear in Friday's round to help their team to the bronze medal.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ For the Swiss, it was not the best day. With eight faults from Bryan Balsiger and twelve from Edouard Schmitz, the pressure was really on for their anchor Martin Fuchs.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Jana Wargers was second in the ring for Germany, and with two down aboard Limbridge the Swedes advanced to gold before the anchor riders had even entered the ring.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Julien Epaillard and Dubai du Cedre made their only mistake of the championship in Friday's round, when having one down on 5b. The French finished 8th.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ It was not Harry Charles' championship. With one down on Wednesday, and two on Thursday as well as Friday, Charles – who has had a great Nations Cup season – looked quite disappointed.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ After a disappointing start on Wednesday and Thursday, Harrie Smolders and Uricas vd Kattevennen bounced back with a clear round for the Dutch team on Friday.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Austrian anchors Alessandra Reich and Oeli R finished on a score of four faults...

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ ...and the celebrations could begin as the team was ready for Paris.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ It probably felt like a long walk down to the ring for Martin Fuchs. Last out for Switzerland, Fuchs and Leone Jei could not afford to make any mistakes if the Swiss wanted to keep the silver within reach. One rail, and it would drop them down into a battle for the bronze with Germany. Well aware of what was required, the reigning European vice-champions set off but an early rail at no. 3 and then a pole on no. 10 left the Swiss on a score of 25.92 – dropping them down the result list, all the way past Spain on 25.59 penalty points.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Switzerland's Steve Guerdat looking slightly concerned.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The Austrian riders had a nervous wait as Gerrit Nieberg and Ben 431 entered the ring as the final pair out for Germany – a clear would secure Otto Becker’s team a bronze. But a rail down for Nieberg pushed the Germans off the podium, and handed the Austrians a much deserved bronze medal.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Left without Marcus Ehning, it was a tough day for the German team that saw the gold slip away.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Meanwhile the Irish were smiling as they had secured team silver, here Trevor Breen, 5th rider Denis Lynch and Cian O'Connor who came to support.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Irish celebrations!

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ A kiss for Mila from Heather.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Reflections...

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The press in full force for the prize giving!

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The Austrians getting ready to step up on the podium.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Gerfried Puck making sure Henrik von Eckermann looks representable.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Real happiness on the Austrian team.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Shane Sweetnam made sure to not waste the bubbles.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Two happy Chef d'Equipes: Henrik Ankarcrona and Michael Blake.

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