Michael Jung’s grin as he soared over the final show jump and crossed the finish line said it all. In sealing victory for Germany at the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships with a clear round in the showjumping he equalled the record set by Ginny Elliot in 1989 of winning three individual European Championship titles on three different horses.
The defending champion’s performance on a horse that only has only a fraction of the experience of others in the field was nothing short of remarkable. He finished on his dressage score of 33.5 to win individual gold by nearly 10 penalties.
“FischerTakinou is a young horse, but he’s a top horse, and he has shown today that he has the quality for the next big championship,” said Jung, who received his medal from Her Majesty The Queen, who was presenting the prizes.
When Germany’s Yorkshire-born team trainer Christopher Bartle was asked whether he thought Her Majesty might have something to say about an Englishman training the winning German team, he retorted: “I think you’ll find there is quite a lot of German blood in the royal family!”
Sandra Auffarth and her brilliant partner Opgun Louvo added to their extensive championship medal tally with individual silver.
“I think we will have a party tonight,” she smiled. “To be part of such a great team is an amazing feeling.”
The third counting team member, Ingrid Klimke, finished fifth with Horseware Hale Bob.
Thibaut Vallette, a colonel in the French army, led his country to team bronze and collected the same colour medal in the individual competition.
“This is my first team championship appearance, so I really didn’t expect this result,” admitted Vallette, who has ridden beautifully all week on the spring-heeled Qing du Briot ENE HN. “The main objective was to qualify the team for the Rio Olympics [both France and the fifth-placed Swedish team succeeded], so for me this is a double victory.”
Britain has suffered mixed fortunes all week, but hung on to the team silver medal with all but one of its three remaining members jumping clear rounds.
“Didn’t the girls do brilliantly,” said William Fox-Pitt, who failed to complete yesterday’s cross-country on Bay My Hero, but was there to support the remaining all-female trio.
Nicola Wilson had a lucky escape when One Two Many crashed through an oxer, but both Pippa Funnell and Kitty King jumped classy clears on their relatively inexperienced horses.
“Persimmon’s been fantastic all week and he couldn’t have jumped better today,” said a relieved and delighted King. “I knew he could do it so long as I didn’t mess up.”
There was disappointment, though, for individual Izzy Taylor, whose one fence down on KBIS Briarlands Matilda dropped her from individual bronze to sixth place, but it was still a performance to take heart from.
“Of course I’m disappointed, but there have been a lot of positives this week and I’ve very much got my eye on Rio next year,” said a philosophical Taylor. After all, her cross-country round was many people’s idea of the performance of the day.
Image: Michael Jung during the dressage test at the FEI European Eventing Championships, by Jon Stroud, courtesy of the FEI