Tag Archive: Nicola Wilson

  1. Double gold for Germany at the FEI European Eventing Championships

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    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

  2. A close run thing: Nicola Wilson at Blair Castle

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    Nicola Wilson revealed her huge sense of relief after avoiding a showjumping fall that would have meant Britain’s team being eliminated from the Longines FEI European Championships at Blair Castle.

    Wilson somehow clung on to One Two Many following a major mishap at fence eight on Sunday morning.

    With team-mate William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero out after Saturday’s cross-country phase, Britain’s remaining three riders Wilson, Kitty King and Pippa Funnell all had to complete their showjumping rounds to stay in medal contention.

    But it was a close-run thing after Wilson took off too early, yet One Two Many somehow got over the fence and Wilson stayed on. After their miracle escape, the four faults collected hardly seemed to matter.

    “I over-prepared,” Wilson said. “The distance came up quite quickly after a treble, and I put him in an impossible position, but what a super horse to jump it.

    “All that was going through my head was ‘there are only three of us, don’t fall off, you have got to stay on’. It felt like a lifetime. I had a lot of time to think of the consequences.”

    Britain ended up with the silver medal, albeit a distant 50.6 penalties from gold medallists Germany, while France took third and secured Olympic qualification, with the other available Rio 2016 spot being booked by Sweden.

    Image: Nicola Wilson during the trot-up at the FEI European Eventing Championships, by Jon Stroud, courtesy of the FEI

  3. Germany dominates on gruelling cross-country day at Blair Castle

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    The rain fell unrelentingly on Blair Castle today and produced thrills and spills galore on cross-country day at the Longines FEI European Eventing Championship in Scotland.

    Ian Stark’s track proved as influential as predicted and, as the day went on, a gripping competition unfolded, characterised by some exceptionally gritty, bold riding in less than ideal conditions.

    Germany still lies in first place and the reigning champions look unstoppable, with a 47-penalty lead going into tomorrow’s final showjumping phase.

    Having won Burghley last week with FischerRocana, Michael Jung produced yet another masterclass of inspired cross-country riding on the youngest horse in the competition, the eight-year-old FischerTakinou, to finish on his dressage score of 33.5, clear and inside the time.

    “He is a fast horse with a lot of thoroughbred blood. I set out quite slowly and helped him a bit, but then, towards the end, I said to him, ‘go faster’ and he did, which was a wonderful feeling,” said Jung.

    Overnight leaders Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo dropped down the order with 11.2 time penalties, while Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob provided the third counting score for Germany, finishing just over the 10 minute 14 second optimum, having gone round in some of the worst conditions at the end of the day.

    “The only ‘moment’ we had was at rail and ditch combination [fences 23 and 24ab], where he chipped in a half stride and I tipped forward. Luckily, he galloped away from the fence and it was OK,” said Klimke. “He finished full of running having really enjoyed himself. He’s so smart and bold; such a good fellow!”

    The Brits retained their silver-medal position despite suffering mixed fortunes. Pathfinder Kitty King rode to orders and brought the classy 10-year-old Persimmon home clear with 8.4 time penalties, having taken one long route at the third water, the First of Forth Crossing.

    “I’m so relieved because I was feeling the pressure this morning,” said King, who revealed that the team physio has been acting as her “psychiatrist” and “listening to all my worries.

    “It was a good fun track to ride and it’s great to feel that I haven’t let anyone down,” she added.

    The pressure was on after the next rider out, Nicola Wilson, had an uncharacteristic error when One Two Many glanced off at the second of the corners in the arena, but former double European Champion Pippa Funnell pulled a fantastic performance out of the bag with the relatively inexperienced Sandman 7 to boost the home side’s morale. The nine-year-old visibly grew in confidence all the way round and their clear with 9.6 time penalties left the pair 10th on the individual leaderboard.

    “I was very conscious of not over-facing this lovely young horse but I knew I couldn’t go quietly because of the team,” said Funnell. “The horse was really classy and I’d love to think we could go to Rio.”

    Anchorman William Fox-Pitt, usually the lynchpin of British championship efforts, saw his fortunes tumble still further when Bay My Hero followed a below-par dressage test yesterday with two run-outs at the narrow triple brush at fence 17.

    “I can’t blame him. He’s a genuine horse who never normally runs out, but he wasn’t going on the ground, which was deep and holding by the time I went,” said a despondent Fox-Pitt, who retired the gelding at this point.

    Individuals Izzy Taylor and Gemma Tattersall were the two standout performers in the British camp, finishing clear and inside the time – the only two riders to do so other than the overnight leader.

    “She’s a very good cross-country horse and she was superb the whole way round,” said Taylor. “I was a little bit down on my minute markers and I didn’t want a few sloppy time penalties, so I pressed for home at the end and she responded.”

    Wills Oakden, flying the flag for the Scots, produced a superb — albeit slow — clear, but there was disappointment for Holly Woodhead, whose dreams were shattered when DHI Lupison slipped and stopped in the first combination at fence 4. Sarah Bullimore and Oliver Townend both racked up 20 penalties apiece, while Francis Whittington was forced to call it a day when a tiring Easy Target stopped at the influential Haggis, Neeps and Tatties fence (at 21ab and 22). The middle element of this fence had already been removed after three horses in a row fell while negotiating the haggis at the top of the steep precipice.

    France, currently lying in the bronze medal position, enjoyed a successful day, posting three clear rounds. Their best-placed rider is championship first-timer Thibaut Vallette, who rode an accomplished round on Qing du Briot to lie fourth individually.

    The Netherlands, Sweden and Spain lie fourth, fifth and sixth, but there was disappointment for Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland and Russia, which failed to get three riders home.

    1. Michael Jung (GER) and fischerTakinou on 33.5
    2. Sandra Auffarth (GER) and Opgun Louvo on 42.6
    3. Izzy Taylor (GBR) and KBIS Briarlands Matilda on 44
    4. Thibaut Vallette (FRA) and Qing de Briot ENE HN on 45.2
    5. Kitty King (GBR) and Persimmon on 45.3
    6. Ingrid Klimke (GER) and Horseware Hale Bob on 46.6
    7. Gemma Tattersall (GBR) and Arctic Soul on 47.3
    8. Dirk Schrade (GER) and Hop and Skip on 48.3
    9. Laura Collett (GBR) and Grand Manoeuvre on 48.6
    10. Pippa Funnell (GBR) and Sandman 7 on 50.6

    1. Germany on 122.7
    2. Great Britain on 169.3
    3. France on 179.7
    4. The Netherlands on 209.3
    5. Sweden on 247.8
    6. Spain on 253.8

    Michael Jung and FischerTakinou jumped clear and inside time during cross-country, helping shore up Germany’s lead at Blair Castle, by Jon Stroud, courtesy of the FEI

  4. ‘Galling’ mistake costs Nicola Wilson dearly at Blair Castle

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    Nicola Wilson ruefully reflected on a mistake in the main arena that left her “absolutely gutted” and meant she plummeted down the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships leaderboard.

    North Yorkshire-based Wilson, fourth after dressage, was enjoying a trouble-free ride on One Two Many as Great Britain looked to set to stay in touch with leaders and defending champions Germany.

    But a run-out at the second element of a double in Blair Castle’s main arena put paid to her chances as the rain swept down.

    “He was giving me such a super ride,” Wilson said.

    “He jumped the first corner really well, and we turned on to the second corner, the line felt great, we had a great take-off point — and for some reason I don’t think he actually properly clocked on to it.

    “He wasn’t being naughty. I think he genuinely wasn’t properly looking at what he was meant to be doing.

    “It is so galling and disappointing. I am absolutely gutted to have let the team down like that when he is always such a good cross-country horse.”

    British individual challenger Oliver Townend, riding Fenyas Elegance, also had a frustrating run-out that put him out of contention, but Izzy Taylor, riding Briarlands Matilda, went clear inside the time, emulating her British colleague Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul.

    “She is a very good cross-country horse,” Taylor said. “I am not a great watcher, so I didn’t really know what was going on. I prefer to do my own plan.”

    Image: Nicola Wilson and One Two Many at the first horse inspection at Blair Castle, by Jon Stroud, courtesy of the FEI

  5. Nicola Wilson crowned National Champion at Gatcombe

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    Nicola Wilson was crowned national champion for the first time as this year’s Festival of British Eventing reached a dramatic conclusion at Gatcombe on Sunday. North Yorkshire-based Wilson finished third aboard Beltane Queen in the headline British Open class, but took the national title as highest-placed home rider behind Australia’s Christopher Burton (TS Jamaimo) and New Zealand’s Jonelle Price (Classic Moet).

    Oliver Townend, winner of the British Novice and British Intermediate sections on Saturday, finished fourth on Armada after withdrawing his other challenger Mr Hiho, who is only just back in work following a lay-off and was never intended to run cross-country.

    Surrey-based Burton triumphed on a score of 43.7 penalties, but his fellow Australian Sam Griffiths fell from his 2014 Badminton champion Paulank Brockagh when in pole position to challenge for silverware, while New Zealand’s former world-number-one Andrew Nicholson ended his afternoon in hospital.

    Nicholson fell from Cillnabradden Evo at the final cross-country fence and was unable to compete on his other ride Perfect Stranger. He was later taken to hospital in Swindon for further checks.

    Wilson looks set to be a pivotal member of the Great Britain team at next month’s Longines FEI European Championships in Scotland, and her outstanding form shone on the Gatcombe terrain, with her other ride Bulana finishing ninth.

    “My horse was phenomenal,” said Wilson, who added her name to a roll of honour that also includes William Fox-Pitt, Ginny Leng, Mary King and Pippa Funnell.

    “I am really pinching myself, and I am so incredibly proud of her. She just keeps getting better and better. Her dressage on Saturday was mistake-free, and she just gave her all again. She is a pleasure to ride.

    “I was incredibly grateful to her at the double of corners on cross-country. I just slightly overshot my turn, but she is such an honest, brave horse. She is a horse that just keeps giving. She is so kind and willing and such a tryer. I am totally thrilled.”

    Burton, though, took the £5,000 winner’s purse, with the top 10 completed by fifth-placed Louise Harwood (Whitson), Georgie Strang (Cooley Business Time) in sixth, seventh-placed Olivia Wilmot (Cool Dancer), Paul Tapner in eighth with Vanir Kamira, Wilson again in ninth and 10th-placed Alex Postolowsky (Islanmore Ginger).

    “I was a little bit cross when I had a rail down in the showjumping, but he is a fast horse and we had a real go today across the country,” Burton said. “It is very exciting to win here, and something that I have always wanted to do at some stage in my career.”

    It was also a highly-satisfying weekend for 32-year-old Townend, who was the only rider of 30 starters to go clear inside the time, giving brilliant cross-country exponent Armada another stunning ride.

    “I had hoped we would have a winner here this weekend, and it has been a big team effort behind it,” Townend said.

    “It is special to win here at Gatcombe. It is the British Chammpionships, and Britain is the place to be to event. It is like National Hunt racing, and to a certain extent this is our Cheltenham.”

    Image by Kit Houghton, courtesy of Gatcombe.