Jens Fredricson and Markan Cosmopolit. (FEI/Leanjo de Koster)
The reigning Olympic and World staff gold medallists from Sweden flexed their not-inconsiderable muscle tissues when taking the lead on the opening day of the FEI Leaping European Championship 2023 at San Siro racecourse in Milan, Italy. With scores transformed into factors, they go into the primary spherical of the second competitors with solely a slim benefit over the defending European champions from Switzerland, whereas Germany lies in in a single day third, fractionally forward of Eire in fourth place.
Tremendous performances from all 4 Swedish staff members gave them the sting, Wilma Hellström setting out their stall with an ideal clear spherical from the one-eyed Cicci BJN, earlier than Rolf-Göran Bengtsson steered the gray stallion Zuccero into momentary pole place when additionally foot-perfect in 73.60 seconds.
Fredricson blew that concentrate on out of the water when galloping by the timers in 71.98 seconds with Markan Cosmopolit, and that will show unbeatable on the finish of the day. Others could be faster, however they wouldn’t depart all of the timber in place and would subsequently be penalised with costly seconds so as to add.
A type of could be the final Swedish staff member and world primary Henrik von Eckermann, who broke the beam within the super-fast time of 69.38, however who clipped the primary factor of the double at fence three with the mare Iliana so as to add 4 extra seconds to their tally. Regardless of that, Crew Sweden’s ending whole, when transformed into factors, leaves them with 1.51 penalties, simply 0.41 forward of the chasing Swiss.
The very first rider into the sector, Switzerland’s Bryan Balsiger, confirmed nerves of metal when bringing Dubai du Bois Pinchet house clear. Though team-mate Edouard Schmitz and Gamin van’t Naastveldhof had two down, each Martin Fuchs with Leone Jei and Steve Guerdat with Dynamix de Belheme produced spectacular clears.
Germany obtained off to an edgy begin when Gerrit Nieberg and Ben 432 picked up 16 faults, however though Jana Wargers and Limbridge had one down, they have been quick. So when Philipp Weishaupt was clear and super-quick with Zineday and Marcus Ehning and Stargold left only one on the ground, it was sufficient to safe third spot on the staff leaderboard at this early stage. Their tally of 5.31 factors leaves the Germans simply 0.69 forward of the Irish, who have been quietly spectacular, Eoin McMahon sealing a very good day for the Boys in Inexperienced with an ideal run from the previous Ludger Beerbaum journey, the mare Mila.
His clear in 73.88 seconds could be ok to settle him in in a single day eighth place on the person leaderboard, simply behind Sweden’s Bengtsson in seventh and von Eckermann in sixth.
The quickest man of the day, Julien Epaillard, lies fifth for France with Dubai du Cedre, and this pair would maintain the lead however for a mistake on the second factor of the final of the three doubles, all of which proved very influential. Switzerland’s Guerdat lies fourth, Germany’s Weishaupt is in third, Switzerland’s Fuchs holds second spot, whereas Sweden’s Fredricson can be out in entrance when the motion resumes.
Speaking concerning the successful journey, Fredricson stated he discovered a very good rhythm the entire method across the course and that each he and his 12-year-old gelding felt motivated and relaxed. The Swedes are clearly assured about their prospects.
“We’ve numerous expertise now in championships and we’ve realized lots over time,” Fredricson identified. They aren’t getting too carried away about being within the early lead on each the staff and particular person leaderboards.
“I don’t assume anybody on the staff is stunned; we had an excellent feeling, however we all know that is simply the beginning. These Championships are a bit like a slalom, and as we speak was solely the primary downhill run!” he added.
Von Eckermann was stunned by his mistake with the comparatively inexperienced Iliana, however was nonetheless well-pleased along with his consequence. “I had an ideal feeling with the mare; she was very calm, and I don’t know why I had the fence down… however in any other case all the pieces went in accordance with plan, and I used to be nonetheless fast sufficient so I may assist the staff. We’ve three actually good scores. I believe we’re within the lead and that’s what we needed for as we speak – now solely six extra clear rounds and it’s completed!” he stated with fun.
Guerdat described Switzerland’s day as “a very good staff efficiency. The Swedish have been even higher however it’s trying fairly good; we’re on type however it’s nonetheless a really good distance, so we’ve to remain calm, hold the shape and journey good,” he identified.
Regardless of bringing Dynamix house within the fourth-quickest time of the day, he wasn’t blissful along with his personal efficiency. “I didn’t give her a very good journey, however she’s wonderful and he or she helped me as we speak, so I hope I can hold her type and enhance mine – then we can be good!” he stated.
He actually favored the course, which proved the proper first-day take a look at. “It didn’t journey as good because it walked; it was a way more troublesome course than what we walked first.
“There have been numerous errors, and also you didn’t should go loopy quick to be in entrance, which is what you need for a Pace class in a Championship – so hats off to the course designer; it was good sport as we speak!” he stated.
Crew-mate Fuchs was additionally happy with how issues labored out. Speaking about his thrilling spherical which held the lead till Fredricson overtook him. he stated, “Leone Jei was improbable. I had a very good plan getting in, leaving out just a few strides with out taking an excessive amount of threat. He has such a giant stride and has the expertise at this degree so I can do my course as I deliberate.”
The Longines oxer at fence eight – 1.50m excessive by 1.60m vast and on a left-bending line after the open water – was one of many primary bogey fences of the day, and the world quantity 4 athlete who took staff gold and particular person silver with the identical horse on the final European Championship in 2021 described how he tackled it with such ease.
“I disregarded a stride to the water and after the water soar, which is barely potential with a horse with such a giant canter as Leone. He at all times over-jumps the water in order that helped me lots in that line as a result of I didn’t have so as to add. Pulling again, it could have been troublesome, however like this I may give him some house and let him use the canter that he has,” Fuchs defined.
The Swiss have their eyes firmly mounted on staff gold. “Our primary focus is on the Nations Cup; we’ve a really robust staff and we wish to defend our title. We had an ideal season so we wish to stick with it, and everybody will do this week to defend the title after which we’ll see on Sunday the place it brings us (within the battle for particular person medals). The aim can be to win a spot for Paris, but when we defend our title we can be in Paris for certain, so we attempt to medal right here and never fear about Paris simply but!” he identified.
There are three tickets for the Paris 2024 Olympic Video games up for grabs this week and, following this opening competitors, fifth-placed Austria and sixth-placed Italy are proper within the hunt. However there are two extra days of leaping to go earlier than that piece of the puzzle falls into place.
Particular person chief, Jens Fredricson, is a contented man. Earlier than he went within the ring, he psyched himself up by listening to his favorite rock music, and after his journey the 55-year-old rider obtained a telephone name from his father, Ingvar Fredricson – a name that any son wish to get.
“He advised me he’d watched me on TV as we speak and that this was the most effective spherical I’ve ever ridden. He’s been watching me for 42 years, in order that’s a bit particular!” Jens stated. Much more motive for the Swedish leaping star to wish to maintain onto that valuable lead over the approaching days. However the story of the FEI Leaping European Championship 2023 is barely starting to play itself out.
All Startlists and Outcomes right here.
by Louise Parkes