This afternoon saw a dramatic Team Final unfold at the Pony European Championships in Strzegom, Poland with all three medals having to be fought for in a third round jump-off.
Having already jumped three rounds, where the best three scores count, Great Britain and Ireland sat at the top of the leaderboard on an equal score of 4 penalties with France and Germany in equal 3rd on 12 penalties.
With medals at stake it meant that all riders, within the four teams, would be forced to come forward and battle it out in a final jump off round to decide the final placings on the podium. First to go were France and Germany, contesting the Bronze medal position. With each rider mirroring each other’s performance as they alternated nations into the arena, it wasn’t until the final rider had jumped that France were declared the Bronze medallists based on a faster cumulative time.
Jump Off for Gold & Silver
The big show down between Great Britain and Ireland came after what must have been a nail-biting time for the riders concerned as they watched the Bronze medal position being contested. Having been able to study the course and see where they could push up the pace it was quite an unbelievable jump off that played out.
Ireland were the first of the teams to come forward opening up by an incredibly fast clear by John Mcentee with Little Smithe in a time of 42.28 seconds. Next in was first for the Brits, Shaunie Greig with Casino Royale. Setting off at an incredible pace things got a bit hair-raising when she almost got jumped out the saddle halfway round the course. However she almost miraculously managed to right herself without breaking stride and still finish clear in an even faster time of 40.08 seconds to push GB ahead.
Ireland’s second rider Niamh Mcevoy with Ardfry Skye lay down the gauntlet by posting another zero penalty round for Ireland in 46.50 seconds. Claudia Moore with Elando van de Roshoeve looked as determined as ever when she set off. And yet again, she delivered when she matched Ireland by posting a clear in an even faster time of 44.88 seconds to pull the Brits even further ahead.
The pressure on Ireland certainly looked like it was taking its toll when their third rider Tom Wachman and Ocean des As had two down to finish on 8 penalties loading extra pressure on their final rider to come. For the Brits, it was Lila Bremner with Lapislazuli who came next in what was her first European Championships. Looking like a veteran, she again posted another clear for the team to return home faultlessly within a time of 45.76 seconds.
As Ireland’s final rider, Max Wachman and Cuffesgrange Cavalidam came forward you could have heard a pin drop around the arena. However, this soon changed when the Irish camp erupted in cheers when they rose to the challenge and managed to claim a lead of just over a second by posting a clear in a time of 40.22 seconds.
The pressure on Holly Truelove’s shoulders as she entered the arena with Rexter D’or must have been incredibly intense as she knew that nothing other than a clear in under 43 seconds would secure the win. Taking her time to steady her thoughts and take a final look around the course she then pushed forward on a fast pace with a view to securing the gold and hopefully achieving yet another clear to match the three she had already achieved in previous rounds. Looking like she was going to achieve just this when she turned extremely tight back to an early vertical to shave some time off, it was a few fences further on when a touch of a top pole saw it topple and relegate GB into the Silver position despite her time of 42.07 seconds.
Clare Whitaker, Chef d’Equipe for the Pony Team and British Showjumping Youth Team Manager said after the presentation ceremony “This was an extremely tough competition, one of the hardest I’ve seen, and each and every team member has been quite outstanding. The pressure they have ridden under has been intense and they have all ridden with talent and maturity that goes far beyond their years. I am so proud of them, I really am.”