Rüdiger Schwarz’s cross country course proved to be quite influential and certainly championship caliber today at Strzegom Horse Trials in Poland, the site of the FEI European Eventing Championships. On odd years, we’re treated to some of the best riders in the world as they compete for individual and team medals, and this year has been no exception. Some shake-ups today have given Great Britain the gold medal standing heading into show jumping tomorrow, followed closely by Germany, who holds the top two individual spots on the leaderboard.
Overnight leader Bettina Hoy set out on course early on with Seigneur Medicott but ran into trouble at fence 4ABC, a tricky angled brush combination that quickly set up to be the bogey combination of the day. Carrying that early 20 penalties, Hoy and Seigneur Medicott later fell at fence 10, a wide table. Both horse and rider were quickly on their feet, and Hoy later posted a photo on Twitter showing her horse safely back in his stall. Nonetheless, a heartbreaking end to this pair’s weekend after their record-breaking performance in the dressage.
Stepping up to take over the lead for Germany was Ingrid Klimke with Horseware Hale Bob, who flew home inside the time to remain on their original penalty score of 30.0 for individual gold position. Klimke just won the Nations Cup leg at Aachen in July and is now set up to take her first European individual gold medal, looking to improve on a silver finish with FRH Escada in 2013.
Klimke will have the pressure tomorrow, with Michael Jung coming home 15 seconds under the time for silver position on his dressage score of 32.8. Jung once again gave a true master class of how to ride cross country with the mare fischerRocana FST, jumping each question out of stride and never giving an inch on the clock.
But it is the British ladies who rule the day, claiming three of the top six spots on the cross country leaderboard. Nicola Wilson had a fantastic ride with Bulana, who was keen and strong to start and quickly became more rideable as the course progressed. Gemma Tattersall, though not a team member this weekend, gave Quicklook V a masterful and positive ride for fifth position, and Kristina Cook with Billy the Red holds sixth.
Also noteworthy is Alena Tseliapushkina, of Belarus, and Passat, who at the age of 20 completed his 19th CCI3* today, proving that age is, without a doubt, just a number when a horse is happy, health and fit.
Course designer Rüdiger Schwarz, an event rider in his own right, has designed the course at Strzegom since 2009 and has worked to develop the course into a championship caliber track. Today’s track proved to be one of the tougher European Championship courses in recent history with 33 out of 63 completing riders coming home without jumping faults.