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Longines FEI European Championships 2017: Swedes shoot to team-lead while Peder Fredricson still sits on top individually

Thursday, 24 August 2017
European Championships 2017

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Peder Fredricson and H&M All In hold the lead both with their team and individually. All photos (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

It was another cliff-hanger of a competition in Gothenburg on Thursday as the second round of the Longines FEI European Championships 2017 got underway, with the host nation having a clean-sweep kind of day to take over the lead on the team standings ahead of tomorrow’s final and Peder Fredricson keeping his gold medal-position individually.

Again, it was course builder Louis Konickx (NED) and his assistant Peter Lundström (SWE) that made sure that it would never get boring at Ullevi Stadium – despite four hours of jumping. The fourteen-fence track kept spectators at the edge of their seats, and there were plenty of nail-biting moments. Faults spread out, but the line from the open water at fence four followed by seven strides to an airy oxer that had been carefully placed on a bend line where there was no room to slip right or left and then six strides to a delicate plank saw riders and horses fault again and again. The triple combination also caused mistakes, riders had to move steadily and balanced in on eight strides to make it out – but several did not manage. For some, the wall at fence eleven would equal their exit from the competition – and, in the end also the last upright – tall and airy with a water tray under – would play its part. In addition, the time allowed was tight, meaning not keeping a certain tempo would turn out to be very expensive indeed – while hunting it could also be costly.

Eleven individuals opened up the class, and two of them managed to produce clears. Yet again, William Whitaker (GBR) and Utamaro d’Ecaussines (Diamant de Semilly x Quidam de Revel) jumped a clear as did Danielle Goldstein (ISR) on Lizziemary (Cabri d’Elle x Accord II) staying on their scores from round one. 

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Niels Bruynseels and Cas de Liberte jumped another clear for Belgium, that now sit equally with the Irish in bronze position.

In the first group of teams, that consisted of Denmark, Ukraine, Hungary, Czech, Russia, Netherlands and Norway not one rider managed to produce a clear round. Especially disappointing was reigning European Champions Netherlands’ performance, that collected another twelve penalties counting for their overall score to end on 25.53. Nevertheless, it would turn out that it would earn them a spot in tomorrow’s final as Portugal could not live up to yesterday’s performances and fell out of the Top 10 to let the Dutch boys in.

The Portuguese dream is kept alive however, by Luciana Diniz and Fit For Fun 13 (For Pleasure x Fabriano) that once again showed what their partnership is made of when jumping a clear round to keep their bronze-position individually.  

For some, Thursday’s round was one big up and for others, one giant down – illustrating exactly how fast things can change in this sport. Belgium had a fantastic day at the office with all their four riders going clear: First Pieter Devos on Espoir (Surcouf de Revel x Laudanum XX), then Niels Bruynseels on Cas de Liberte (Cracky Z x Chellano Z), followed by Jerome Guery on Grand Cru van de Rozenberg (Malito de Reve x Heartbreaker) and finally reigning European Vice-Champion Gregory Wathelet on Coree (Cornet Obolensky x Liberty Life). The Belgian boys’ rounds shot their team up to bronze medal position with a score of 12.11, a spot they share with Ireland as the teams are tied on an equal score. "Today we proved that we are in good form, with all us in the team jumping clear. Let's hope we can continue like this tomorrow!" commented Guery afterwards. 

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson Ireland's Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z delivered a clear round for their team to contribute to their current bronze medal position.

For the Irish, there were more mixed emotions though. It all began well with another lovely clear from Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z (Chacco-Blue x Quinar Z), which has put them into 6th on the individual standings but the good start was continued with disaster when Bertram Allen parted ways with Hector van d’Abdijhoeve (Cabrio van de Heffinck x Utrillo van de Heffinck) after a scary jump on the oxer at no. ten. Luckily, Hector was caught quickly and Bertram left the ring seemingly unhurt – but the Irish found themselves in the danger zone as the next two scores would count. It looked like Denis Lynch and All Star 5 (Argentinus x Alme) would save the day though, but surprisingly a rail on the final upright fell and the Irish boys were even more vulnerable. However, anchor-man Cian O’Connor kept his cool with the extravagant Good Luck (Canturo x Furioso II) and delivered a clear round to leave his team on a total score of 12.11 and in the battle for the medals. "We were very unlucky with Bertram's ride, but this is what team mates are for – I hope we can keep on fighting tomorrow," commented O’Connor after.

As to the French, today was a low. Only Kevin Staut managed to jump clear with Reveur de Hurtebise HDC (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Capricieux Des 6 Censes), climbing up from 5th to 4th individually. His team mates however had no luck, and when Penelope Leprevost’s Vagabond de la Pomme (Vigo d’Arsouilles x For Pleasure) threw in a surprise stop on the water jump the French fell down the ranks to find themselves 8th overall compared to yesterday’s silver medal-position after racking up a frustrating 24.78 penalties.

Italy, Germany and Spain found their way to the middle and bottom part of the group and now sit 5th, 6th and 7th on a score of 15.25, 15.52 and 23.85 respectively. For Italy, Alberto Zorzi on Cornetto K (Cornet Obolensky x Calido) and Lorenzo De Luca on Armtiages Boy (Armitage x Feo) both jumped clear to help their team into a strong position ahead of tomorrow’s final. For Germany, it was Marcus Ehning and Laura Klaphake that saved the day with a clear each, to keep their team in the zone ahead of tomorrow’s deciding round. With his masterful performance, Ehning also kept his individual silver-medal position with Pret A Tout (Hiram Chambertin x Stew Boy) after once again making the difficult course look quite simple. 

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson In silver position: Switzerland, here represented by Martin Fuchs and Clooney 51 that sit 5th individually.

While some were struggling, the Swedes were shining. Sitting third after the opening round on a score of 7.21 penalties, they only added one fault overall to take over the lead on 8.21. Henrik von Eckermann and Mary Lou 194 (Montendro x Portland) made a huge recovery from Wednesday’s round to only collect a time penalty after some real fighting spirit, while both Malin Baryard-Johnsson on H&M Cue Channa (Cardento x Robin Z) and Peder Fredricson on H&M All In (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Andiamo Z) delivered clear rounds to make the crowds go crazy as Douglas Lindelöw’s unlucky four faults on the last upright could be discharged.

There is plenty of pressure on the hosts however when Friday’s team final kicks off. Less than a rail behind sits Switzerland, that fell down from gold to silver medal position after today’s round finishing on 11.15 penalties. After Nadja Peter Steiner opened with thirteen penalties, there was no room for error for the final three riders – but as second to go for his team Romain Duguet yet again delivered on Twentytwo des Biches (Mylord Carthago x Kalor du Bocage) only picking up a time penalty, while Martin Fuchs rode the round of the day on a reluctant Clooney 51 (Cornet Obolensky x Ferragamo) to convince the gelding to jump clear despite several small objections on the way. "It was a bit of a wild ride, but in the end we were clear and that is all that counts. I am ready for tomorrow – there will be no water, and that is better for us," said Fuchs after the competition.

The Swiss could have kept their lead with a clear from Steve Guerdat and Bianca (Balou du Rouet x Cardento), but the incredible mare took down the back rail on the penultimate oxer and picked up a time penalty to finish on a score of five – dropping her team down behind the Swedes to set the stage for an incredibly exciting final tomorrow night.

Individually, the top three remains unchanged with Peder Fredricson on top followed by Marcus Ehning and Luciana Diniz. Kevin Staut made a climb up to fourth position today, as did Martin Fuchs who now sits fifth with only 2.03 penalties separating him from Fredricson – which means any faults tomorrow will prove costly. In the challenger position, Ehning was clear on how he feels about Friday’s third round and team final: "I am really happy, we made a super round and my horse jumped great today – and I am really looking forward to tomorrow!” 


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