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Gold for Germany as Andre Thieme and DSP Chakaria rise to the occasion at the Longines FEI European Championships 2021

Sunday, 05 September 2021
Longines FEI European Championships 2021

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping The host nation’s own Andre Thieme and the feisty chestnut mare DSP Chakaria secured the gold medal at the Longines FEI European Championships at Riesenbeck International, Germany. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping 



The individual final at the Longines FEI European Championships at Riesenbeck International, Germany, turned into a real thriller – where the host nation’s own Andre Thieme as the very last to go in the ring secured the gold medal with the feisty chestnut mare DSP Chakaria (Chap 47 x Askari). 

It was a beautiful day at Riesenbeck International, with sunny and warm autumn weather, and it was packed as the action got underway. With all four German riders qualified for the individual final, the home crowds were in for a treat and the atmosphere was at its very best. 

A total of 24 horse-and-rider combinations had qualified for today’s individual final, and it was tight on top with only a rail separating the leader and defending European Champion Martin Fuchs (SUI) from 7th placed Nicola Philippaerts (BEL). 

Shaking it up

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Andre Thieme and DSP Chakaria. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

The first round really shook things up. From the very beginning, it was the last line in Frank Rothenberger’s 1.60m course that caused the most trouble for the horses and riders. Prior to this, the horses had already been asked plenty – with the oxer-oxer-plank triple combination at 7abc, followed by 31 meters to the open water and then 26 meters to the gold oxer at 9 where most riders opted for six holding strides. Then coming out of the corner on the short side, an upright & oxer combination, which measured a distance of 8 meters in between, really asked the horses to stretch and again and again rails fell here – especially on the b-element. A few had a rail down on the oxer at 11 too, which followed on 31 meters. 

First to keep the course intact was Omer Karaevli (TUR) on Cheston de la Pomme d’Or Z (Chippendale Z x Contendro II), and a few riders later Eoin McMahon (IRL) – who was more or less on home soil this weekend as he works for Ludger Beerbaum – delivered a very strong performance with Chacon 2 (Chacco-Blue x Aventyno) with only a time penalty added to his score. 

Another young rider that really impressed was Victoria Gulliksen (NOR), who also added a single time fault to her score after a great round aboard Papa Roach (Perigueux x Zeus) – and when those in front of her made mistakes, the pair climbed up from sitting 13th to eight. 

Ranked 11th coming into the final, David Will (GER) delivered a fantastic clear with C Vier (Cardento x Concorde) to make a fully seated Riesenbeck International explode – securing a place in the last round. And, when Swiss team gold medallists Steve Guerdat and Bryan Balsiger, as well as Germany’s Christian Kukuk and Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts, all had to see poles fall in the combination at 10ab, and France’s Olivier Robert had eight faults added to his score, Will made a big climb up – going into the medal deciding round as rank six.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Defending European Champion Martin Fuchs took the silver medal with the only 9-year-old Leone Jei. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

The top five made sure to make it as exciting as possible for the crowds. Peder Fredricson (SWE) did what he does best and delivered a clear round with Catch Me Not S (Cardento x Ramiro’s Son) to keep on his score of 4.46. Newcomer Ioli Mytilineou (GRE) continued to impress and kept her nerves under control on the spectacular Levis de Muze (Elvis Ter Putte x Tinka’s Boy) to add only a time penalty to her score – riding out of the ring on 4.64 points. Pieter Devos (BEL) on the other hand, who was sitting in bronze position, did not have luck on his side and saw a pole on the penultimate oxer fall – dropping down behind Fredricson and Mytilineou on 7.16. 

The pressure was on for Andre Thieme, who was breathing overnight leader Martin Fuchs in the neck with only 1.53 points separating the two, but he managed to keep it all together to produce a clear on DSP Chakaria and added nothing to his score. 

As Fuchs entered the ring with Leone Jei (Baltic VDL x Corland), one could hear a pin drop. Coming flying off the water, Fuchs opted for five strides to the following oxer, but hit his first rail of the championship and had to add four faults to his score – falling down to rank four on 5.31 behind Thieme, Fredricson and Mytilineou.

With a rail in hand

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping "She is something very special!” Thieme said of DSP Chakaria. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Frank Rothenberger’s track for round two counted ten fences and twelve efforts, which included an airy white triple combination at 5abc – which was made even more difficult by the fact that shadow from the covered tribune fell onto it, the tricky Surenburg-planks midway as well as a new spooky white Longines wall as the penultimate challenge before a 1.55m tall and 1.70m wide Longines oxer remained.

“Walking the second round, you could see that the triple combination was going to be very, very difficult for everybody. I think the course designer was very smart, from three to four he gave us a little bit flowing forward six to a big oxer with bushes underneath, so you came with a lot of motion and a little bit downhill and then you had those two tall, very delicate verticals with nothing underneath. You had to ride it perfect and even then, there was a chance to have it down,” Thieme explained. “I think the course designer did an unbelievable job!”

As expected, it was this part of the course that caused most faults, and eventually only two of the twelve riders managed to post clear rounds – Nicola Philippaerts and Christian Kukuk (GER), eventually jumping themselves up to 5th and 4th place respectively. 

It would turn into a battle between the top four. Fuchs, however – sitting fourth – was one of those who had a fault coming into the triple, as Leone Jei hit the a-element set at 1.58m which left them on a total score of 9.31 penalty points, leaving the door open for the three to come. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Thieme after posting a clear in the first round of the final. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Crowd favourites Ioli Mytilineou and Levis de Muze were next in the ring and had everyone cheering them on. All the way down to the triple combination it looked good, but unfortunately the pair had a misunderstanding coming in and went through the first upright – opting to retire after an otherwise fabulous championship where they did not touch a pole until this very last round.

Mytilineou’s misfortune meant Fuchs was now within the medals, the only question was which one. That was up to Fredricson and Thieme to decide, and when Fredricson surprisingly had the Longines upright at fence two down, everyone was at the edge of their seats. Steading the gelding for the remaining part of the course, Fredricson managed to keep the rest of the fences intact but added a time penalty – falling behind Fuchs on 9.46 penalty points. 

As last to go, Thieme had the whole stadium fall into complete silence. On 2.84 points, he could afford one rail but not two. So, when Chakaria knocked the top pole at 5a out of the cups a collective groan went through the crowds – it was still a long way home. Despite the added pressure, Thieme kept it together and as he crossed the finish line it exploded at Riesenbeck International – gold had been secured for the hosts, giving them the best possible ending to what has been an extraordinary week at Ludger Beerbaum’s fantastic facilities.

Something very special

Photo © Haide Westring Andre Thieme with his gold medal. Photo © Haide Westring.

“Already this morning, when I took her out for a bit of light dressage work, she felt extra fresh,” Thieme said about DSP Chakaria. “That was already a good sign and a good feeling. Then in the first round, it felt, not easy, but easy enough for her and I knew that another round was very possible. When we saw that there were rails, and I could even have one, I was pretty confident. I went in, and the three first jumps felt extra good, so I thought ‘man!’. But then I had the combination coming in down, even though I got there exactly the way I wanted to, and then – boom – I had a rail and I thought to myself ‘oioioi, now we have a long way to go…’ I tried to stay calm, and she stayed calm with me. I don’t know how many times I can say this, but I am very blessed with that horse. She is something very special!”

A part of the German team at the Olympic Games back in August, Thieme commented on the experience: “Tokyo came too early for us, we all thought we could do it but then we paid our price. Here, she was such a different horse, so relaxed – she learned something in Tokyo; I learned something in Tokyo – and I am very glad that it went this way!”

Martin Fuchs dropped from gold to silver but was still happy – especially seeing that Leone Jei is still young and did his first international championship. “Obviously it is special to make another championship medal on an only 9-year-old horse – Leone Jei, which was fantastic throughout the whole week. Actually, at the prize giving the first day after the speed class, Ludger came to me and said: ‘I think we will see each other again on Sunday’, and he was right – fortunately.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Peder Fredricson, European Champion in 2017, took the bronze with Catch Me Not S. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“I was a bit disappointed with my two rails that I had down, one in each round,” defending champion Fuchs continued. “The first rail was a bit unlucky; I was a little bit far away after the water and made a light rub on the back pole. In the second round, I had to jump a clear to even just have a chance to make a medal. I had the same rail as Andre – the a of the triple combination – and I was quite upset after that and said ok, now I'm fourth. But, then to be on the podium with silver, and watching Andre ride – even being close to gold – was very exciting and very special,” Fuchs said. “The first few minutes I was a bit disappointed with the rails I had, it wasn’t good enough for the gold, but now I am really happy with silver. I go home with two medals – one gold and one silver. Andre was just better than me today, and I hope that one day, I will be better than him again.”

Like Fuchs, Fredricson was disappointed at first but had by the time of the press conference shook that off – wearing a smile instead. “My plan was to do six strides from one to two, he has a really long stride, so he would then jump nr. two more comfortable,” Fredricson explained. “I knew we had the triple combination coming up with these two verticals, so just before I went in, we changed our minds thinking it would be better to do seven from one to two to keep the horse together. It ended up that we cleared the combination, but we had nr. two down. We had a time fault too, which was very expensive today – but that’s sport and I think the course designer built it in a really clever way like that. It was questions all the way around, the time was just short enough to catch a few – and me,” Fredricson smiled. “Like Martin, at first, I was really disappointed with the choice I made, maybe I should have kept the six strides, but this is difficult to know. 45 minutes later, I start to feel happy for my bronze medal!”

A big and warm thank you!

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping “In the name of all the riders, I want to thank Ludger for organising this competition,” Fuchs said. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Closing off, Fuchs paid tribute to Ludger Beerbaum who stepped in to organise the European Championships on very short notice after it was reallocated to Riesenbeck International at the end of 2020. “In the name of all the riders, I want to thank Ludger for organising this competition,” Fuchs said. “We see many shows that have years, and years notice on putting up an event – you did not have that. You are for all of us riders one of the most inspiring persons in this sport – we call you ‘The Legend’ behind your back! And, now that you start to do even more for our sport, hold these European Championships, that you built this here, that you give us the opportunity to ride at another championship in these difficult times, I think everybody really appreciates it, everybody here had only the best things to say about this competition, about the whole organisation and this deserves a big and warm thank you from all of us Ludger!”



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