This evening saw the Team NAF Children win Team Bronze at the European Championships in Zuidwolde, The Netherlands.
With the Brits under the guidance of Chef d’Equipe Clare Whitaker, competition started on Tuesday for the Children and at the end of that first day, Great Britain remained on zero penalties, a score which saw them share the top spot with eight other nations. Today’s first round of the Team Final proved to be a stiffer test with just Austria, Germany and The Netherlands able to stay on zero and Great Britain just behind them in fourth on 2 penalties. With the second round still to come, the Team medals were going to prove to be hard fought for.
Twelve year-old Tabitha Kyle from Loughborough, Leicestershire got the British campaign underway by taking the role of pathfinder with Grennanstown Sarco Luxhill, a 9 year-old bay gelding owned by Holly Smith. With two clear rounds already under her belt from both Tuesday’s competition and today’s first round of the Team Final, Tabitha was determined to deliver a third clear to maintain a clean sheet. Belying her young age, Tabitha jumped with great accuracy and maturity to duly deliver that much desired clear, getting Britain off to a great start.
Amelie Gachoud, aged 14, from West Horsley, Surrey was the second rider in for Great Britain on board HMF Evito, a 10 year-old bay gelding owned by HMF Equestrian. In each of their first two rounds, the pair picked up 4 penalties but they put this behind them to secure a fantastic clear this evening, putting Great Britain in a strong position.
The third combination in was that of Chloe Lemieux, aged 13, from Southampton, Hampshire and Freya, a 9 year-old bay mare owned by Robert Lemieux. They got their Europeans off to a fantastic start on Tuesday after producing an immaculate clear. They looked set to emulate this performance in the first round today when they jumped another clear, but they were a fraction over the time allowed, leaving them carrying a single time penalty. In the second round this evening, they lowered a single pole for 4 penalties.
Aimee Jones, aged 14, from Shrewsbury, Shropshire and Zoverla, a 15 year-old chestnut mare owned by Alison Sargeant were last up and they also produced a spotless round on Tuesday to ensure that they had nothing to add to the scoresheet coming into today’s Team Final. The combination produced a second jumping clear in the first round of the Team Final but were also just outside the time which left them with a time penalty. As the last rider in for the British team, Aimee knew that a clear round was needed to put pressure onto the other nations and she secured it in emphatic style, guaranteeing the Team Bronze with Great Britain sitting on a total of 2 penalties after three rounds of competition.
With only ten teams eligible to come forward for the second round of the Team Final, all riders outside of these jumped earlier on. For Great Britain it was Phoebe Farman, aged 13, from Cranleigh, Surrey with Calle, a 19 year-old bay gelding owned by Tracy Priest and Penelope Priest who were competing as individuals and they joined their teammates in the prize giving.
Germany and The Netherlands were the two teams able to remain on zero penalties and the Team Gold was eventually taken by The Netherlands after a thrilling jump off against the Germans who took the Team Silver.
The focus for the Children now moves to the Individual Final on Saturday 13th July in which the Individual medals will be decided.