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Team gold for Britain, while the individual title goes to France at the FEI European Pony Championships

Monday, 10 August 2015
FEI European Pony Championships 2015

The winning British team: Charlotte Ash, Jodie Hall Mcateer, Jack Whitaker and Jessica Hewitt. Photo (c) Lotta Pictures/FEI.
The winning British team: Charlotte Ash, Jodie Hall Mcateer, Jack Whitaker and Jessica Hewitt. Photos (c) Lotta Pictures/FEI.

This past weekend the FEI European Pony Championships took place in Malmö, Sweden - and it was Great Britain that claimed team gold while the individual title went to France courtesy of Justine Maerte.

The British have a formidable record with 14 team and 10 individual gold medals to their credit, and Jodie Hall McAteer, Jack Whitaker, Jessica Hewitt and Charlotte Ash moved that team tally on to 15 last Friday. The Irish claimed silver for the second year running while the defending champions from France were close behind in bronze.

A total of 11 nations fielded teams - Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland - and it was the Belgians and Dutch that finished just outside the podium placings.

Scores from Thursday’s opening individual qualifier were carried through to Friday’s team competition, so the British were off the pace when all four riders on the Belgian, French and Irish sides impressively came through on a zero score, while three of the Germans did likewise to leave them all on level pegging.

But the British had just the single time fault collected by Jessica Hewitt and Ammanvalley Santino on their scoresheet. So when Jack Whitaker made a brilliant recovery from his 18-fault scoreline in
Thursday’s opener with Zodianne van de Doevenbree to leave the whole course intact in the first round of the team event, then it was the single error from the last-line partnership of Charlotte Ash and Aughnashammer that was the British drop score, as Hewitt kept a clean sheet and Jodie Hall McAteer and Tixylix went double-clear.

The Irish and French held their advantage with three more clears each, but when Abbie Sweetnam on Spartacus Reape collected eight faults in the team competition second round, the four picked up by Luke Garrigan on Dr Spot had to be counted despite clears from Olivia Rouston on Ballygawleys Little Ferro and Mikey Pender on Imagine If One. And the French also lost their grip when having to count the five faults picked up by Charlotte Lebas this time out with Quabar des Monceaux, as pathfinders Victoria Tachet and Rexter d’Or produced the drop-score of eight while Justine Maerte on Shamrock du Gite and Thomas Scalabre on Sligo de Mormal were foot-perfect. The Germans meanwhile slipped off the radar, collecting a total of 12 faults that allowed the Belgians with eight and the Dutch with a final total of nine to finish ahead of them in fourth and fifth places.

Jack Whitaker, 13-year-old son of legendary British senior team member Michael Whitaker who was competing for his country in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup qualifier in Dublin, Ireland on the same day, was the only British pony team member to drop a fence in the second round, which left them with team gold in their grasp on a final tally of just one fault, while the Irish claimed the silver with four and the French were close behind in bronze with five.

Justine Maerte and Shamrock du Gite won the individual gold for France.
Justine Maerte and Shamrock du Gite won the individual gold for France.

Individually a total of four riders - Maerte from France, Hall McAteer from Britain, Rowen van de Mheen from The Netherlands and Ireland’s Mikey Pender shared the lead on a zero score going into yesterday’s individual jumping final. It turned into a thriller, coming down to a five-way jump-off for silver and bronze when only Maerte and her brilliant nine-year-old gelding Shamrock du Gite managed to keep a clean sheet yet again to clinch the title outright.

When Hall McAteer, Pender and van de Mheen each made a single mistake, they were joined on a four-fault tally by Thibault Philippaerts, 13-year-old son of Belgian star Ludo Philippaerts, and another Belgian Maartje Verberckmoes at the end of the second round, so it would take a jump-off to decide the places on the podium. Only Hall McAteer and Philippaerts managed to stay clear this time out, and the British rider got the edge to clinch silver with Tixylix when racing through the finish in 37.36 seconds while Philippaerts was almost five seconds slower with Okehurst Little Bow Wow when taking the bronze.


GOLD - Great Britain 1 fault:

Tixylix (Jodie Hall McAteer) 0/0/0, Zodianne van de Doevenbree
(Jack Whitaker) 18/0/4, Ammanvalley Santino (Jessica Hewitt) 1/0/0,
Aughnashammer (Charlotte Ash) 0/4/0;

SILVER - Ireland 4 faults:

Ballygawley’s Little Ferro (Olivia Roulston) 0/5/0, Spartacus Reape
(Abbie Sweetnam) 0/08, Dr Spot (Luke Garrigan) 0/0/4, Imagine If One
(Michael Pender) 0/0/0;

BRONZE - France 5 faults:

Rexter d’Or (Victoria Tachet) 0/0/8, Shamrock du Gite (Justin Maerte) 0/0/0,
Quabar des Monceaux (Charlotte Lebas) 0/0/5, Sligo de Normal (Thomas
Scalabre) 0/4/0.


GOLD - Shamrock du Gite (Justin Maerte) FRA 0;

SILVER - Tixylix (Jodie Hall McAteer) GBR 4/0 37.36;

BRONZE - Okehurst Little Bow Wow (Thiebault Philippaerts) BEL 4/0 42.24.


Source: Press release from the FEI written by Louise Parkes

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