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Sweden reigns supreme at the Agria FEI Jumping World Championship 2022

Saturday, 13 August 2022
ECCO FEI World Championships 2022

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Sweden won gold, the Netherlands silver and Great Britain bronze at the Agria FEI Jumping World Championship 2022 in Herning, Denmark. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

The Swedish showjumpers lived up to expectations, and were in a league of their own in Friday’s team final at the Agria FEI Jumping World Championship in Herning, Denmark – adding yet another gold medal to their continuously expanding collection. In a competition that turned into a real rollercoaster ride, it was Sweden that was in control from beginning to end – leaving the rest of the teams to try to hold on through the endless twists and turns. It was Jens Fredricson – Sweden’s third rider out – that secured the gold medal, and the Swedish celebrations could begin before their anchor rider had even entered the ring.

“The whole week has been fantastic for us so far; our horses have been jumping well,” Swedish Chef d’Equipe Henrik Ankarcrona said after the gold was a fact. “A championship is always like a rollercoaster though. In the end you will have a few rounds you are going to wish you did not have. It has been an amazing year since Tokyo, we knew we had a good chance coming here and we wanted to be on the top of the podium, we were clear with that – we knew we had the capability and the horsepower and the skills to do it. But it is one thing to say it, and another to do it. Thanks to my riders and all their teams, they are just amazing.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ With their third clear round in Herning, world no. one Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward helped Sweden to the team gold and have now taken over the lead individually. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Sitting on a score of 3.69 penalties ahead of tonight’s final jumped under the floodlights in the Stutteri Ask Arena, where the atmosphere was electric, Sweden was followed by France on 5.44 penalties, Germany on 11.76, the Netherlands on 13.31, Belgium on 13.49, Great Britain on 14.66, Switzerland on 14.83, Canada on 15.56, Ireland on 17.15 and Brazil on 17.29. For the ten teams in the final, there was a lot at stake; next to the medals, the five best nations would earn themselves a ticket to the Olympic Games in Paris.

Louis Konickx’s fourteen-fence track proved to be a tough nut to crack though and out of the 62 horse-and-rider combinations that came to start – including the individual athletes – only eight managed to deliver clear rounds. It was the last line that was the heartbreaker of the competition, and again and again, the riders got in trouble in the 'Men at sea' triple combination at 13abc. The maximum height white plank on flat cups at fence four also caught out many, and the time allowed also played its part tonight. 

Among the pathfinders for the teams, it was only Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward (Edward x Feo) that managed to answer all the questions asked by Konickx. Meanwhile, France could not keep up with Sweden – as Simon Delestre had to see his first pole of the championship fall to the ground coming into the triple combination with Cayman Jolly Jumper (Hickstead x Quaprice Bois Margot) – and neither could Germany, with Marcus Ehning having two rails down on Stargold (Stakkato Gold x Lord Weingard).

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Malin Baryard-Johnsson and H&M Indiana. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

While Jana Wargers managed to keep the Germans on track when recording only a single time penalty aboard Limbridge (Limbus x Cambridge), things did not develop in the right direction for France when Gregory Cottard had two rails down and a time fault to finish on nine penalties. Swedish veterans Malin Baryard-Johnsson and H&M Indiana (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Animo's Hallo) could also not keep all the poles up and took a rail down coming out of the combination at 9b, so as the second riders in the rotation had finished their rounds, the tension increased. 

The third riders in the line-up certainly contributed to a thrilling finish. Clear rounds from Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs on Leone Jei (Baltic VDL x Corland) and Great Britain’s Harry Charles on Romeo 88 (Contact vd Heffinck x Orlando), as well as one time penalty from Belgium’s Jerome Guery on Quel Homme de Hus (Quidam de Revel x Candillo), and two from Dutch rider Jur Vrieling on Long John Silver (Lasino x Corrado I), put further pressure on Germany and France – that had less and less margin for error. All eyes were now on reigning European Champions Andre Thieme and DSP Chakaria (Chap x Askari) – third in the ring for Germany – who with a clear round could make things even more exciting. However, the competition took a completely unexpected turn when Thieme and his 12-year-old mare parted ways in the landing after the oxer at three and were eliminated. France’s Julien Epaillard, the overnight leader on the individual standing, entered the ring next, but when Caracole de La Roque (Zandor Z x Kannan) had both 13a and b down, they left the ring on eight faults and suddenly the French had a best possible score of 17.44 and were far behind the Swedes. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Jens Fredricson and Markan Cosmopolit sealed the deal for Sweden, and have climbed up to sit second individually after three clear rounds in Herning. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

The French failures left Jens Fredricson with a huge advantage, and the Swede did not disappoint – piloting Markan Cosmopolit (Cohiba x Calido I) around to his third clear round of the championship to secure the gold for Sweden with nine riders still to go. “Tonight he was relaxed, with a lot of power, so it was an easy ride,” Fredricson said. “I was a bit lucky on the last fence, but you always need a bit of luck. And the time was tight; it was not impossible, but you had to think about it the whole way and not do extra strides anywhere. That puts extra pressure, to have a balance with a high speed and all these turns. I think it was a great course.”

While the Swedish celebrations had already begun, the remaining teams still had all to play for. While France could finish on a best possible score of 17.44, Ireland had fought their way up to potentially finish on 18.15, while Switzerland could end on 18.83, Belgium on 18.49, Great Britain on 18.66 and the Dutch on 19.31 – and with such small margins, mistakes were not an option as the competition drew towards a close. 

As last to go for Ireland, Daniel Coyle could not keep it together though, and after multiple rails down, he opted to retire, leaving Ireland on a score of 23.15. Tonight, even not a Steve Guerdat could help the Swiss – first a brick on the wall at fence no. 2 fell to the ground, and then a plank on no. 4, which left the reigning European team champions on a disappointing total score of 26.83. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Peder Fredricson and H&M All In. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Great Britain’s Scott Brash – who was sitting second individually coming into tonight’s round – had the chance to shoot his team up on the standings if he could deliver a clear round, but surprisingly Hello Jefferson (Cooper vd Heffinck x Irco Mena) hit the back rail on 9b, and then on 13c as well, and the Brits suddenly had a total score of 22.66. Next in the ring, Gregory Wathelet had an unusual three down with Nevados S (Calvados Z x Romualdo), with Belgium dropping down behind Great Britain and Ireland. 

After four faults from both Sanne Thijssen on Con Quidam RB (Quinar Z x Cardino) and Maikel van der Vleuten on Beauville Z (Bustique x Jumpy Des Fontaines), Jur Vrieling had improved the Dutch medal chances when finishing with his only two time faults. It all came down to Harrie Smolders and Monaco N.O.P. (Cassini II x Contender), but no stranger to pressure, the former world no. one kept his cool to deliver a much-needed clear round – anchoring the Dutch to a score of 19.31 and securing a medal. 

And when Kevin Staut had three rails down, it was game over for France, that dropped all the way down to 6th on the result list on a score of 26.44 – leaving the Dutch with the silver, and Great Britain with bronze. 

“I am very happy,” Dutch Chef d’Equipe Jos Lansink said. "First of all, I think we have to say that we had a fantastic course today, he [Louis Konickx] made it very difficult for the riders, they had no time to breath, you had to move forward from the start to the finish line. That is why we got so many mistakes, I think. My team wanted to qualify for Paris, and halfway through the class it looked really far away. Then, after the round from Jur where he had two time faults, it looked a little bit better again and then after Harrie’s round – a fantastic clear – we got a chance for a medal and to finish in the end with silver was a nice bonus. But the most important thing to us was to first qualify for Paris and then maybe get a medal. I must say that the riders did a great job, all four of them were very strong all week, even if we had a lot of silly mistakes. But in the end, we are happy.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Peder Fredricson, Henrik von Eckermann, Jens Fredricson, Malin Baryard-Johnsson and Chef d'Equipe Henrik Ankarcrona. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Dutch anchor Harrie Smolders added; “Monaco was fantastic today, he was a little bit nervous in the warm-up, with the lights and all the noise, but when we came into the arena he was totally focused. I am very proud of him. I think we came back strong as a team; we moved up yesterday and even halfway today it did not look good for us, but we kept believing and I think tonight was a real team effort.”

On a disappointing day for Germany, anchor rider Christian Ahlmann’s four faults meant they eventually ended on a total score of 24.76. While they dropped out of the medals, Olympic qualification was secured for the Germans, alongside the Swedes, the Dutch, the Brits and Irish. 

"We came with the ambition to get a medal as well as the [Olympic] qualification, so I am absolutely delighted with how this team fought," British Chef d'Equipe Di Lampard said about Ben Maher, Joe Stockdale, Harry Charles and Scott Brash's performances. 

As last in the ring for Sweden, it could have been a real demonstration of power from Peder Fredricson and H&M All In (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Andiamo Z), who also had the opportunity to go into the lead individually. However, even this experienced, multi-medallist couple struggled tonight over Louis Konickx's course to end up on twelve faults and as the Swedish discharge score – also sliding down on the individual standings, all the way from third to 27th. Sweden’s individual medal chances are still looking good though; ahead of Sunday’s final Henrik von Eckermann has taken over the lead on a score of 0.58, followed by Jens Fredricson on 2.71. “My horse jumped amazing again and I am looking forward to Sunday,” von Eckermann said, looking towards the last medal decider in Herning, which will see 25 of the best horse-and-rider combinations returning. 



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