Marcus Ehning shall be flying the German flag partnering Stargold on the FEI Leaping European Championship 2023 in Milan (ITA). (FEI)
The build-up is reaching a climax forward of the FEI Leaping European Championship 2023, which will get underway at San Siro Racecourse in Milan, Italy on 30 August.
Workforce and particular person medals are up for grabs, and the flags of 24 nations will fly excessive at this thirty seventh version of an occasion that’s steeped within the tales of champions.
A complete of 87 athletes and their horses are entered, with 16 international locations fielding groups and eight extra represented by people. The possibility for 3 unqualified groups from FEI Olympic Teams A and/or B to choose up a beginning spot on the Paris 2024 Olympic Video games additionally provides to the prospect for a super-competitive week of thrilling sport.
That is solely the third time in its 66-year historical past for the FEI Leaping European Championship to be staged in Italy. There have been solely particular person medals on provide when the Italy’s Graziano Mancinelli and Rockette reigned supreme in Rome in 1963 the place two extra greats – Germany’s Alwin Schockemöhle with Freiherr and Nice Britain’s Harvey Smith on Warpaint – stood on the second and third steps of the rostrum.
At San Patrignano in 2005 it was Marco Kutscher and Montender who got here out on prime forward of Switzerland’s Christina Liebherr in silver, whereas The Netherlands’ Jeroen Dubbeldam claimed particular person bronze. Germany took the workforce title – first launched in 1975 – that yr too, when Kutscher was joined by Marcus Ehning, Christian Ahlmann, and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum to pin Switzerland and The Netherlands into silver and bronze.
Ehning has a unprecedented report at European Championships, courting all the way in which again to Hickstead (GBR) in 1999 when he joined Michaels-Beerbaum, Carsten-Otto Nagel, and Ludger Beerbaum to clinch workforce gold. He did it twice extra – in 2003, when he additionally claimed particular person bronze, and in 2005. He was on the silver-medal-winning groups in 2007, 2019, and 2021, and took workforce bronze in 2009.
Driving the thrilling 12-year-old stallion Stargold, with whom he gained the 5* Grand Prix in Aachen (GER) final month, the 49-year-old Olympic, World, and European workforce gold medallist and three-time FEI Leaping World Cup™ champion is again in Otto Becker’s choice this yr. He shall be accompanied by Gerrit Nieberg, Jana Wargers, Philipp Weishaupt, and Christian Kukuk.
Germany holds pole place on the European Championships Roll of Honour with seven workforce and 15 particular person gold medals collected down the years, three of the latter going to the legendary partnership of Paul Schockemöhle and Deister over three consecutive editions within the Eighties. André Thieme is not going to defend the person title he gained with DSP Chakaria at Riesenbeck (GER) in 2021.
The defending workforce champions are Switzerland, and Chef d’Equipe Michel Sorg brings all 4 of the aspect that clinched victory at Riesenbeck (GER) two years in the past – Martin Fuchs, who additionally clinched particular person silver on that event, Steve Guerdat, Bryan Balsiger, and Elian Baumann, together with Edouard Schmitz.
The Swiss are in flying type after a summer time crammed with success together with victory in Aachen and three sensational wins within the Longines FEI Leaping Nations Cup™ Europe Division 1 sequence. However they know they haven’t any room for complacency, as a result of they’ve a double mission in Milan.
Regardless of their prominence within the sport, they’re nonetheless chasing a qualifying spot on the Paris 2024 Olympic Video games and shall be on the hunt for one of many three on provide, together with groups from Austria, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Portugal, and Spain. In the event that they don’t make the minimize this time round, they solely have another probability when a single spot comes up for grabs on the Longines FEI Leaping Nations Cup™ Ultimate in Barcelona (ESP) on the finish of September. They gained’t need to go away it that late.
The complete checklist of groups for the 2023 Championship is Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Nice Britain, Hungary, Eire, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, and all have entered 5 athletes, apart from Norway and Portugal, who ship solely three. People will symbolize Bulgaria, Greece, Israel, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Slovakia, Turkey, and Ukraine.
There shall be seven of the highest 10 and 13 of the highest 20 riders within the newest world rankings all flying their international locations’ flags, with world quantity two Julien Epaillard and world quantity six Simon Delestre amongst Henk Nooren’s formidable French quintet, whereas the ultra-dependable Harrie Smolders – at present world quantity three – is listed on Jos Lansink’s Dutch workforce.
Seventh-ranked Shane Sweetnam headlines Michael Blake’s Irish aspect, whereas Di Lampard’s British workforce contains reigning Olympic champion and world quantity 9, Ben Maher. Sweden has world primary and double world champion, Henrik von Eckermann, enjoying a starring position in a aspect that additionally contains Jens Fredricson, Wilma Hellström, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, and Petronella Anderson.
The Swedes have by no means gained the European workforce title, taking silver in 2001 and 2017 and bronze in 2013. They twice gained particular person gold, Bengtsson and Ninja La Silla in 2011 and Peder Fredricson and H&M All In in 2017.
The Championship timetable begins with the primary horse inspection on 29 August, which shall be adopted by a coaching session earlier than the draw for order-of-go within the night. The primary competitors, a Desk C Velocity and Handiness, is open to groups and people and takes place on 30 August, with the rating for every athlete transformed into penalties on the finish of the day.
The second competitors begins with one spherical on 31 August, and is open to all groups and people, however solely the highest 10 groups and prime 50 people undergo to the second spherical on 1 September, when the workforce medals shall be determined.
The highest 25 undergo to the primary spherical of the person closing on 3 September, with the highest 12 returning for a second spherical to resolve the destiny of the European particular person title for 2023.
by Louise Parkes