A British whitewash saw Great Britain continue its formidable form to net team gold at the FEI European Eventing Championships in Avenches, Switzerland today — and win all three individuals available as well.
The all-female quartet of Nicola Wilson (JL Dublin), Piggy French (Brookfield Inocent), Kitty King (Vendredi Biats) and Ros Canter (Allstar B) pulled off brilliant showjumping rounds to secure Britain’s place on the top step of the podium.
Beautiful clear rounds saw Nicola crowned the individual European champion and Piggy clinch individual silver.
Sarah Bullimore, riding as an individual, also pulled off a clear round to secure the bronze riding her home-bred Corouet.
Vendredi Biats hit the second fence to put Kitty into ninth place individually, just ahead of British individual Izzy Taylor and Monkeying Around, who also had one fence down for 10th.
Ros Canter and Allstar B, the reigning World champions, showjumped clear but two cross-country run-outs the previous day left them outside the top 40.
Team GB arrived in Switzerland as reigning World and Olympic champions, meaning Britain now holds all three titles.
This is Britain’s 23rd team victory and the seventh time in the history of these championships that there has been an all-British individual podium. The last trio to achieve the same were Ian Stark (Glenburnie), Richard Walker (Jacana) and Karen Straker (Get Smart) at Punchestown, Ireland, in 1991.
‘I’m so proud’
“This has been very very special — being with this fantastic group of girls who all get along really well. It’s been fun all the way and the horses have been phenomenal,” said Nicola.
“It’s a first championship for Dublin, he missed a bit of time when I injured my neck two years ago and then Covid came long but now I’m so proud for my owners,” she added.
“I was delighted with his dressage, it just felt very solid and good and then he stormed around the cross-country and produced a beautiful round in the showjumping.
“How lovely it is to have had him since he was a young horse and to build that lovely partnership and trust between us — and thank you to Switzerland for putting on these championships.”
Piggy, who was a team gold medallist at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018 and team silver medallist at Europeans two years ago, described Brookfield Inocent as “definitely one of the best I’ve ever ridden — in all three phases he couldn’t have done any more.
“Personally I think that if we’re ahead of Ingrid Klimke and Micky Jung then that’s a medal in itself, wherever we’d finish. This has just been a fabulous week.”
Sarah, who competed her 10-year-old Corouet’s dam, Lily Corinne, at the 2015 Europeans, described her home-bred gelding as “a freak of nature.
“He’s phenomenal in all phases. He could do pure showjumping and pure dressage — he’s unique,” she said.
“He has a huge attitude in a small package; he knows how cool he is and he’s been fantastic all week.”
‘They stole our trainer!’
Defending champions Germany claimed the silver, just missed out on a seventh team title by 13.3 penalties.
Ingrid Klimke and SAP Hale Bob OLD were aiming for their third consecutive individual gold medal but it wasn’t to be.
One pole down dropped them from second overnight to fifth, while teammate Michael Jung just missed out on an individual medal in fourth riding FischerWild Wave.
“We won the silver, but we didn’t lose the gold,” said German team rider Andreas Dibowski. “The Brits did an amazing job, and we just couldn’t beat them.”
Ingrid added, with a smile, “I have one thing to say to the Brits — they stole our trainer!”, referring to Britain’s high performance coach Christopher Bartle, who began working with the British squad in 2017 after 16 years training riders in Germany.
“But I’m very happy for them, they did a wonderful job,” she added.
Team final leaderboard:
- Great Britain 73.1
- Germany 86.4
- Sweden 113.9
- Switzerland 114.9
- France 116.8
- Austria 129.5
- Ireland 141.4
- Italy 157.8
- Spain 169.5
- Czech Republic 227.5
Final individual leaderboard:
- Nicola Wilson (JL Dublin) GBR 20.9
- Piggy March (Brookfield Inocent) GBR 23.3
- Sarah Bullimore (Corouet) GBR 23.6
- Michael Jung (FischerWild Wave) GER 23.9
- Ingrid Klimbe (SAP Hale Bob OLD) GER 25.4
- Maxime Livio (Api du Libaire) FRA 26.5
- Christoph Wahler (Carjatan S) GER 26.8
- Felix Vogg (Cartania) SUI 28.1
- Kitty King (Vendredi Biats) GBR 28.9
- Izzy Taylor (Monkeying Around) GBR 31.9
View the full standings here.
Main image: (L-R) Piggy French, Nicola Wilson and Sarah Bullimore. Credit: FEI/Richard Juilliart