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|The gold medal winning British Jumping team at the FEI European Pony Championships 2011 in Jaszkowo (POL) - L to R - Graham Babes, Jessica Mendoza, Amy Inglis and Beth Vernon. (photo: FEI/Helen Revington story: FEI/Louise Parkes)|
British riders took team and individual Jumping gold, Germany claimed two of the three Dressage titles and France dominated the Eventing competitions at the FEI European Pony Championships 2011 staged at Jaszkowo, Poland from 26 to 31 July.
The Jumping team Championship was an exciting and close-fought affair, with just one fault separating the victorious British from the fighting Irish at the end of the day, while the Dutch were much further adrift when claiming bronze. The British had the whip hand after the first round with clears from all four riders, and the Irish were five faults in arrears while having to count a single time penalty from Max O'Reilly-Hyland (Rock Dee Jay), and an additional four faults when both Michael Duffy (Kadia Mouche) and anchor Emma O'Dwyer (Jacknell Street) left one on the floor.
But British pathfinder Amy Inglis (Nils D Hurl Vent) picked up 12 faults second time out, and although second-line rider Beth Vernon (Falaza) completed a double-clear, both Graham Babes (Dollar Girl) and Jessica Mendoza (Tixylix) made a single mistake to bring their tally to eight. Bertram Allen had opened the Irish account with a first-round clear from Acapella Z, but this time they returned with four faults on the board, and despite great second-round clears from both O'Reilly-Hyland and O'Dwyer, they were obliged to count four more when Duffy also made a single error. That single first-round time fault from O'Reilly-Hyland proved expensive in the final analysis.
The Dutch meanwhile rocketed up from sixth at the halfway stage to take the bronze. Jens Van Grunsven, nephew of dressage legend Anky Van Grunsven (Indorado), recovered from a 12-fault opening round to go clear second time out, Amber Fijen (Winning Mood) picked up five in round one and four next time out, Leon Tine Bruin (Scapa SB) made just a single mistake in round one but collected 17 on his return to the arena and Megan Laseur (Ensilla) followed a five-fault first effort with a clear to leave The Netherlands with a total of 18 faults.
The Individual Jumping Championship came down to a six-way jump-off between Great Britain's Vernon, Babes and Mendoza, Ireland's Allen and O'Dwyer and Justine Tebbel, daughter of top German rider Rene Tebbel. It was Mendoza and Tixy Lix who set the target when second to go, returning a clear in 30.40 seconds, but team-mate Vernon bettered that when fourth into the ring with the mare Falaza who scorched hom in 29.88. Allen and the speedy Acapella Z did their best but couldn't quite match that when next to go, breaking the beam in 30.38 and it was O'Dwyer who just missed out when home and clear in 30.48 for fourth spot as Vernon claimed the gold, Allen took silver and Mendoza bronze.
If the finish was tight in the Jumping Championship then it was even tighter in Eventing in which just 0.1 point separated the winning French team from the Irish silver medallists. It was the British side of Grace Walker (Noble Springbok), Sophie Beaty (Done and Dusted), Sam Ecroyd (Three Wells Breeze) and Janou Bleekman (Cregann Scenic) who held the lead after the dressage phase with a combined score of 137.30 and they were followed at this stage by the French carrying 143.00 and the Irish with 153.80. And the British stayed out in front with nothing to add after the cross-country. But when Walker, lying third after dressage and cross-country, didn't compete in the final Jumping phase then they slipped down the order to bronze medal position when Sophie Beaty's eight faults had to be added to clear jumping rounds from Bleekman and and Ecroyd.
Ireland's Lucy Latta and Nono picked up 20 penalties at the second element of the fence five on the cross-country track, but the remaining three went into the final day on their dressage scores when only Joshua Pim (Mr Otto) had a pole down as Jodie O'Keeffe (Castleview Rakish Milly) and Ana O'Brien (Ice Cool Bailey) each kept a clean sheet. The combined Irish tally left them within a whisper of the French, whose result was entirely dependant on Luce Bentejac and her pony Mon Nantano de Florys. Such was the strength of their dressage score that, even with the addition of eight Jumping penalties, this partnership finished on a total of 40.07, the best individual score of the entire competition, and although three of the Irish bettered the final scores of the remaining three French team members - Lee Teissier (Nitzpogne), Fanny Barriere (Plume de Virey) and Thais Meheust (Java Bleue La Bree) - the French squeezed in for gold, with the Irish having to settle for silver and the British taking the bronze.
Bentejac's dressage mark of 32.7 ensured she was the one to chase throughout the entire competition, and it was Britain's Ecroyd who came closest to her gold medal winning final tally of 40.70 when adding nothing to a dressage mark of 47.70 for silver, while Ireland's Jodie O'Keeffe claimed the bronze, pipping team-mate Ana O'Brien by less than a mark.
Germany won the Team and Individual titles, but The Netherlands' Dana van Lierop claimed Freeystyle Gold in the hotly-contested Dressage Championships. Consistently high scores secured the team honours, Grete Linnemann and her lovely dark bay German Riding pony mare Cinderella M producing a fabulous test for a high mark of 77.972. Team-mate, Jessica Krieg who won Individual gold in 2010, achieved a score of 76.222 while Lena Carlotte Walterscheidt and the Bavarian-bred Lord Champion put the result beyond doubt when judges Mouw (NED), Baarup (DEN), Wust (GER), Loriston-Clarke (GBR) and Markowski (POL) awarded this partnership 76.139. The fact that Germany's discount score was the highly impressive 72.129 earned by 11 year old Semmieke Rothenberger and Domino Dancing was evidence, if needed, of the absolute supremacy of the German side whose collective score was 230.333.
The Netherlands finished in silver medal position as Dana van Lierop challenged for the leading score with a mark of 75.028 from her palomino mare Day of Diva. Sanne Vos and her 7 year old Champ of Class were awarded 73.750 while Febe van Zwambagt and the New Forest pony Price Z earned 70.889. Sanne Gilbers and Daylight produced a mark of 68.778 and the Dutch final total was 219.667. Denmark took bronze ahead of the British who, initially, were announced as joint bronze medal winners. A scoring discrepancy was later discovered however and the two teams were separated by the tiniest margin - 0.111. The Danish side of Emilie Holm Toft (Dreamgirl), Caroline B Smidt (Campari W), Caroline Aarosin (SL Lucci), and Maya Jorgensen (Modderbeek's Flo) had a cumulative score of 209.00, but the British still had plenty to celebrate as first-line rider Maisie Scruton produced a super mark of 72.250 with Rembrandt to finish individually sixth. She was backed up by solid performances from Erin Williams (Danny Boy B), Aimee Witkin (Ferrari) and Gabrielle Lucas (Top Star) to bring the British tally to 208.889.
It was a German one-two in the Individual Championship with Linnemann and Cinderella pipping team-mate Lena Charlotte Walterscheidt and Lord Champion by more than one percentage point while The Netherlands Van Lierop and Day of Diva took the bronze. But the Dutch girl was clear winner in the Freestye when her 8 year old pony racked up a superb score of 80.740, pinning Germany's Walterscheidt into silver and Krieg into bronze.
Team Jumping Championship: GOLD - Great Britain 8 faults: Nils D Hurl Vent (Amy Inglis) 0/12, Falaza (Beth Vernon) 0/0, Dollar Girl (Graham Babes) 0/4, Tixylix (Jessica Mendoza) 0/4; SILVER - Ireland 9 faults: Acapella Z (Bertram Allen) 0/4, Rock Dee Jay (Max O'Reilly-Hyland) 1/0, Kadia Mouche (Michael Duffy) 4/4, Jacknells Street (Emma O'Dwyer) 4/0; BRONZE - The Netherlands 18 faults: Indorado (Jens Van Grunsven) 12/0, Winning Mood (Amber Fijen) 5/4, Scapa SB (Leon Tine Bruin) 4/17, Ensilla (Megan Laseur) 5/0.
Individual Jumping Championship: GOLD - Falaza (Beth Vernon) GBR 0/29.88; SILVER - Acapella Z (Bertram Allen) IRL 0/30.38; BRONZE - Tixylix (Jessica Mendoza) GBR 0/30.40.
Team Dressage Championship: GOLD - Germany 230.333 - Cinderella (Grete Linnemann) 77.972, Danilo (Jessica Krieg0 76.222, Lord Champion (Lena Charlotte Walterscheidt) 76.139, Domino Dancing (Semmieke Rothenberger) 72.139; SILVER - The Netherlands 219.667 - Day of Diva (Dana Van Lierop) 75.028, Champ of Class (Sanne Vos) 73.750, Prince Z (Febe van Zwambagt) 70.889, Daylight (S Gilbers) 68.778; BRONZE - Denmark 209.00 - Dreamgirl (Emilie Holm Toft) 71.889, Campari W (Caroline B. Smidt) 68.833, Lucci (Caroline Aarosin) 68.278, Modderbeeds Flo (Maya Jorgensen) 87.139.
Individual Dressage Championship: GOLD - Cinderella M (Grete Linnemann) GER 76.921; SILVER - Lord Champion (Lena Charlotte Walterscheidt) GER 75.842; BRONZE - Day of Diva (Dana van Lierop) NED 75.474.
Freestyle Dressage Championship: GOLD - Day of Diva (Dana van Lierop) NED 80.750; SILVER - Lord Champion (Lena Charlotte Walterscheidt) GER 78.750; BRONZE - Danilo (Jessica Krieg) GER 78.550.
Eventing Team Championship: GOLD - France 157.70 - Mon Nantano de Florys (Luce Bentejac), Nitzpogne (Lea Teissier), Plume De Vrey (Fanny Barriere), Java Bleue A Bree (Thais Meheust); SILVER - Ireland 157.80 - Castleview Rakish Milly (Jodie O'Keeffe), Ice Cool Baily (Ana O'Brien0, Mr Otto (Joshua Pim), Nono (Lucy Latta); BRONZE - Great Britain 159.20 - Three Wells Breeze (Sam Ecroyd), Done and Dusted (Sohie Beaty), Cregann Scenic (Janou Bleekman), Noble Springbod (Grace Walker).
Eventing Individual Championship: GOLD - Mon Nantano de Florys (Luce Bentejac) FRA 40.70; SILVER - Three Wells Breeze (Sam Ecroyd) GBR 47.70; BRONZE - Castleview Rakish Milly (Jodie O'Keeffe) IRL 51.70.