Another week, another championship and another team medal for British riders, this time at the FEI Young Rider European Championships at Strzegom in Poland (August 27-30). Not only did the British team secure gold but individual gold and silver as well — a great result for these up and coming riders.
And they dominated from the start; the team went into pole-position after dressage while team member Will Furlong, who was Junior individual bronze medallist in 2013, took the overall lead on Livingstone II, with individual rider Sophie Beaty (Stanly), a former Pony and Junior team member, in second.
All four British team riders—Furlong, Ella Hitchman (Rocky Rockstar), Isabella Innes Ker (Carolyn) and Emily King (Loxley)—as well as the two individuals, Beaty and Katie Bleloch (Bulano), jumped clear round the cross country, with four of them finishing in the top six and ensuring the team stayed at the top of the leader board. Five of them then jumped clear in the showjumping, with King the sole British casualty of the coloured poles, which dropped her out of individual medal contention.
It was a convincing win for the British team, who finished 12 penalties ahead of Germany and over 36 penalties ahead of the Irish bronze-medal team.
Twenty-year-old Furlong, who is based near Battle, in East Sussex, becomes the first British male individual gold medallist since Terry Boon in 1993. His ride, Livingstone, a 12-year-old Holstein by Lavall II, was initially produced by British-based Swede Ludwig Svennerstal and acquired by Furlong in the middle of 2012. At the end of that season, the combination won the CCI1* at Weston Park and in 2014 was crowned National U21 Champions after winning the championship class at Houghton Hall.
At 19, Beaty, from Finedon in Northamptonshire, is already virtually a veteran of British teams; she won Pony European team gold in 2010 and team bronze in 2011, was a member of the 2013 Junior team and, last year, with the Dutch-bred Stanly rode as an individual at the YR Europeans.
Chairman of the Askham Bryan GB Young Rider Selection Committee, Alex Colquhoun commented: “We are all so incredibly proud of our riders and horses this week, everyone has gelled so well and worked well together as a team. We have been unlucky in the past so to lead from the start and have everything come together as it did is just fantastic.”
A week earlier, another British team added another two medals to this year’s haul. The British Rural Riders won team silver at their CCI2* Championship held at Helvoit in The Netherlands, with team member Frankie Reid-Warrilow winning the individual title and gold medal.
The competition is for Riding Club members and is for teams of six. It is based on the usual format but the main difference is that for the team championship, all six team members perform the dressage test together in a sort of follow-my-leader style, which certainly makes for an interesting challenge and literally requires team-work. They then also each do an individual dressage tests.
The British team of Reid-Warrilow (Dolley Whisper), Tyler Cassells (Grandslam), Zoe Wilkinson (GHS Calvaruise), Danielle Dunn (Zocarla BLH), Sarah Holmes (Lowhill Clover) and Emily Pragnell (DHI Beauness) took the lead after the team dressage test and Reid-Warrilow, a member of the Vale of Arrow Riding Club in Powys, held the lead in the individual competition.
The twenty-five-year-old, who was the inaugural winner of the ‘Mark Todd Bridging the Gap’ scholarship in 2013, then rode a double clear adding nothing to her dressage score of 40.7pen to secure a seven-penalty margin and claim the top step of the podium and the gold medal.
After cross-country, the team dropped to third but bounced back with the showjumping to win the silver medal, sandwiched between gold-medal Germany and the bronze-winning Belgians.
British teams have so far yielded an impressive tally of championship medals this year: two team golds (pony and young rider), one team silver (rural riders) and one team bronze (juniors) as well as two individual golds (young rider and rural riders) and an individual silver (young rider), meaning the seniors have a lot to live up at their European Championships set to take place at Blair Castle in just over 10 days. No pressure, guys…..
At home, at the KBIS Wellington International Horse Trials in Hook, Hampshire, the major class, the CIC3*, was won by Borough Pennyz and her British-based Italian rider Vittoria Panizzon.
It was a bit of a comeback for the popular gazelle-like mare, the leading mare at the London 2012 Olympic Games, as it was the first international class for the combination since the British Open at Gatcombe last year. The pair has been through an unlucky on-off phase; Pennyz was withdrawn from Badminton 2014 with a bruised foot and then had to be withdrawn literally just before her dressage test at the WEG in Caen.
Although 2015 got off to a promising start for the pair, with a quiet OI at Rockingham, things then went awry for Panizzon when, at the beginning of June, she broke her collar bone in a fall from a young horse, which resulted in several weeks out of the saddle meaning plans to compete Pennyz at the European Championships slipped away. So welcome back Pennyz and Panizzon, who for good measure was also second in the CIC3* with Merlots Magic, a 14-year-old gelding by Welton Chardonnay and a half-brother to the stallion Up With the Lark, both bred by Sarah Taylor.
Wellington also proved fruitful for Pippa Funnell and Billy the Biz, who headed their OI section. It was some recompense for Funnell after an unlucky ‘unseated rider’ episode at Hartpury from the 10-year-old, who, like Borough Pennyz, is also by Cevin Z.
Images: main, the gold-medal winning British team; smaller, individual gold medallist Will Furlong, silver medallist Sophie Beaty and bronze medallist Christoph Wahler. Both by Leszek Wójcik, courtesy of the FEI.