Jeroen Dubbeldam completed a spectacularly successful FEI European Showjumping Championships for Holland by being crowned individual gold medallist in Aachen on Sunday. In doing so, the 42-year-old sealed a remarkable title hat trick of reigning European champion and world champion, plus past Olympic champion.
Dubbeldam became the first rider since Frenchman Eric Navet 24 years ago to hold European and world titles simultaneously, while 15 years ago he won Olympic gold in Sydney, and this latest success came just 48 hours after he combined with colleagues Jur Vrieling, Maikel van der Vleuten and Gerco Schroder to see Holland win the European team title.
Two clear rounds meant that Dubbeldam finished on a score of 3.68 penalties across five rounds of jumping, which included last Wednesday’s opening speed class.
Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet, riding Conrad de Hus, took the silver medal, with Frenchman Simon Delestre claiming bronze on Ryan des Hayettes.
But there was no joy for British pair Joe Clee and Ben Maher, who finished 15th and 23rd, respectively, although the week’s main business — securing team qualification for next year’s Rio Olympics alongside Michael Whitaker and Jessica Mendoza — had already been accomplished.
Clee had a fence down in each of Sunday’s rounds on Utamaro d’Ecaussines, while Maher withdrew Diva II for round two after collecting eight faults.
Belgium-based Clee said: “The first round, in hindsight, I probably should have gone on seven strides to the combination and kept the canter a little bit bigger, as it would have made it easier for him to jump in. In the end, I ended up a little bit too short and he slowed himself down. The rest, he jumped fantastic.
“The second round, if they could build a combination that was difficult for him then that was it — oxer, oxer and two waters, and the water feature on that side.
“He jumps a little bit to the left anyway, and then, as he jumped in, he was looking at the water and the lake at the side as well. He was spooking off the lake, then, as he was drifting left, the distances were obviously getting longer and longer for him and he couldn’t get out. He tried his best, he really tried to get out, but couldn’t make it in the end. Everything else, one mistake per round, he has done incredibly well. He’s jumped amazingly.”
And former world number one Maher added: “She lost a stud. She has special shoes, and she lost a bit of the plate off the shoe and I could feel it after the combination. She moved a little to the left on the oxer, and then just coming around down that last line she just lost her balance a couple of times.
“She jumped a good round, actually. She was a bit keen, but I am very happy with the way she jumped today. She is maybe a little tired — she’s only a 10 year old — but she has done a great job this week helping the team qualify.
“She’s had a great first championships. It has been a great experience, and hopefully we can use that going forward. She’s certainly proven that she is a championship horse this week. She has done me proud.”
Individual result: 1 Jeroen Dubbeldam (SFN Zenith) 3.68, 2 Gregory Wathelet (Conrad de Hus) 5.04, 3 Simon Delestre (Ryan des Hayettes) 7.67, 4 Penelope Leprevost (Flora de Mariposa) 8.00, 5 Jur Vrieling (VDL Zirocco Blue) 9.29, 6 Sergio Alvarez Moya (Carlo 273) 9.47, 7 Christian Ahlmann (Taloubet Z) 9.56, 8 Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Fibonacci 17) 10.09, 9 Andreas Schou (Lenardo der Kleine) 10.98, 10 Kevin Staut (Reveur de Hurtebise) 12.01.