Tuesday, June 25, 2024
HomeEuropeTeam Sweden Takes European Championship

Team Sweden Takes European Championship

Jens Fredricson and Markan Cosmopolit, who have led the Individual standings since Day 1, cemented the victory for Sweden with a third day of faultless riding at the FEI European Jumping Championship in Milan. He had help from Wilma Hellström, who rode clear with Cicci BJN, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, another clear aboard Zuccero, and World No.1 Henrik von Eckermann, who only picked up 4 points with Iliana.

Ireland, led by Michael Blake, won the silver medal, ending their campaign in Italy two fences behind Sweden. It was Austria and Chef d’Equipe Angelika May who joined them on the podium to take home a bronze — another one for the history books, as it’s the first time this nation has won a Jumping Team medal at the European Championships.

Austria’s stellar performance — which condemned overnight leaders Germany to fourth place — will also send them to Paris for the 2024 Olympic Games. Spain and Switzerland picked up the other two qualification spots on offer this week, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively. Check out the final Team results and Individual standings ahead of Sunday’s final.

It was a topsy-turvy day for the leaderboard as Day 3 of competition unrolled on yet another challenging turf track laid out by Italian course designer Uliano Vezzani.

Flag-waving fans filled the stands, hoping to see their country at the prize giving in the end. But only three teams could take the medals, and those positions changed with nearly every ride as the afternoon went on.

Heading into the day, Team Germany were in the lead on 9.31 points, followed by Sweden on 9.51 and Switzerland on 9.92. With the scores bunched so closely together, the atmosphere at the San Siro racecourse arena was electric, and it was almost inevitable that a roller coaster of emotions was in store for all.

Team Germany had trouble from the beginning, when Marcus Ehning announced that he and Stargold would not be starting. That left them with no discard score, a tough position to be in with medals on the line.

Austria’s Olympic qualification and their first glimpse of the podium came late in the day, when Max Kühner put a gorgeous clear on the board with Elektric Blue P. That let them discard Katharina Rhomberg’s 12 points with Cuma 5, leaving them with just 2 time penalties from Gerfried Puck aboard Equitron Naxcel V.

Exchanging Places

Ireland, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland kept exchanging places on the leaderboard. But a costly 8 points from Germany’s Janna Wargers with Limbridge put them into fifth with only one athlete left to go.

There was no doubt where Sweden was headed, however, once Jens Fredricson completed his ride with Markan Cosmopolit. Turning in yet another clear — which is why the pair have held the lead since Day 1 — they guaranteed Sweden the gold and a triple crown victory to boot.

That left the battle for the remainder of the podium, which went down to the wire in one of the most thrilling European Championship events ever.

With an Olympic qualification in hand, Austria sent Alessandra Reich and Oeli R into the ring, currently fourth in the Team standings. Four points for Reich, dropped Austria down to fifth, but the show wasn’t over yet.

Holding in second place, Ireland was up next with Eoin McMahon and Mila. Less than a point ahead of Switzerland, McMahon’s 4 points was added to Michael Duffy’s clear with Cinca 3, Shane Sweetnam’s 4 with James Kann Cruz, and Trevor Breen’s 4 with Highland President, the discard score.

A clear from 2019 European champion Martin Fuchs of Switzerland next would give his team the silver medal. But an early rail down and then another for 8 points in total dropped them off the podium and secured the silver for Ireland, moving Austria up to fourth.

It all came down to Germany’s Gerrit Nieberg and Ben 431, who could only afford 1 time penalty to stay on the hunt for the podium. Unfortunately, it wasn’t their day. A fence on the ground for 4 points bumped them into fourth, and it was Austria bringing home the bronze!

Behind Germany in fourth place, Spain ended the day in fifth, followed by Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Great Britain, and Italy. Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Portugal, and Hungary did not advance to Day 3 of competition and finished 11th through 15th, respectively.

‘Lost for Words!’

“I am lost for words,” said Swedish Chef d’Equipe Henrik Ankarcrona of their triumph.

“The big goal is Paris,” he added, for which testing different combos was essential. “I really tried to bring up new horses.”

The team’s triple crown victory came as a surprise to the modest Swedish leader, but he was elated to realise their achievement. “It can’t be much better than that!”

Saturday brings a day of rest for the human and equine athletes. Then, the Individual medals will be decided on Sunday.

On the heels of Fredricson in the lead, former Olympic champion Steve Guerdat of Switzerland is in second place with Dynamix de Belheme, with just 0.43 penalty points to Fredricson’s zero. Michael Duffy of Ireland is in third with Cinca 3, only 2 time faults behind Guerdat.

Also in the top 10 are: Olivier Perreau of France (GL Events Dorai d’Aiguilly), Olympic champion Ben Maher of Great Britain (Faltic HB), Philipp Weishaupt of Germany (Zineday), Julien Epaillard of France (Dubai du Cedre), von Eckermann, Christian Kukuk of Germany (Mumbai), and Kühner.

Source : Horse Sport

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