HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships: Sweden sets the scene for a historic competition
Friday, 16 August 2013 06:17
A total of 17 nations have declared riders for the HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships in Malmö (SWE) at the end of the month (August 29-September 1), and the 2013 Championships are building up to be every bit as fascinating a competition as the last 30 runnings.
It is 60 years since the first European Eventing Championships took place, at Badminton (GBR) in 1953, and the biennial contest has proved a showcase for some of the sport’s most legendary riders and horses.
For the 2013 running, 13 nations have entered teams of three or four riders: Belgium, Belarus, France, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Spain and Sweden, while Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark and Finland will be represented by individual riders.
The nation in the spotlight for this year’s Championships is undoubtedly Germany, team and individual title holders, and the Germans are widely expected to maintain winning momentum when they make the short journey across the Baltic Sea to the seaside resort of Malmö on the southernmost tip of Sweden later this month.
Few would bet against Germany’s most successful rider, Michael Jung (GER) achieving back-to-back European titles, even though his fantastic partner La Biosthetique Sam is sidelined. Instead he rides the exciting nine-year-old Halunke, already a dual winner at CIC3* level this year.
In fact, the German team is likely to have a new look, as Jung’s much-medalled team-mate Sandra Auffarth on Opgun Louvo is also an absentee, although the all-conquering nation still boasts such big names as Ingrid Klimke, Dirk Schrade and Andreas Dibowski to call on.
Great Britain is the most successful country in the history of the Europeans, but their winning run ended in 2011 at the hands of the Germans and they will be without team stalwart Mary King, as well as the 2005 European champion Zara Phillips who is expecting a baby.
Britain, therefore, fields an intriguing mix of experience and youth. William Fox-Pitt, Kristina Cook and Pippa Funnell, who have more than 20 European Championship appearances and numerous team gold medals between them, are joined by Lucy Wiegersma, Izzy Taylor and Tom McEwen, who competed in Malmö last year at the FEI Young Rider Eventing European Championships.
The Swedes, who last won European team gold exactly 20 years ago in Achselschwang (GER), are carrying the hopes of what will be a supportive and knowledgeable home audience. As host nation, they can field 12 riders, and they will be hoping that Olympic silver medallists Sara Algotsson-Ostholt and Wega can lead them to victory on home ground.
They will have the always influential benefit of being on home ground, especially as Malmö, with its background of sea and city architecture - the famous Twisting Torso building - is one of the more compact and unusual championship venues, and invariably provides a great atmosphere of Swedish hospitality.
“It’s a very special place,” says Cross Country course designer Rüdiger Schwarz (GER). “The Swedish course-builders have done a fantastic job in bringing the sea elements into the obstacles, which they have built from scratch.
“Spectators will have the chance to see horse and rider combinations four times during their rounds, due to the looping layout and, in some areas, against a backdrop of the sea. It’s going to be a stunning day for everyone there, as well as for those watching on television.”
“It’s fantastic to see all our thoughts being realised after a year of planning,” said show director Viveca Byhr Lindén. “This is such a beautiful place and we are proud and honoured to be able to show it to the rest of Europe.”
Follow the action: http://malmoeventing.com
Watch the action LIVE on FEI TV www.feitv.org/live:
29 August - Dressage Part 1: start time 09:55
29 August - Dressage Part 2: start time 13:25
30 August - Dressage Part 3: start time 09.55
30 August - Dressage Part 4: start time 13.25
31 August - Cross Country: start time 09:55
1 September - Jumping Part: 1 start time 10:55
1 September - Jumping Part: 2 start time 13:25
HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships - 13 nations in Malmö
A total of 13 nations have entered teams of three or four riders: Belgium, Belarus, France, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Spain and Sweden. Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark and Finland will field individual riders.
This is the 31st FEI European Eventing Championships and the first time it has been held in Sweden. Malmö hosted the FEI Young Rider Eventing European Championships last year and the FEI World Cup™ Eventing Finals in 2005 and 2006.
The reigning European team champions are Germany (Michael Jung, Sandra Auffarth, Ingrid Klimke and Andreas Dibowski), who won team gold at Luhmühlen (GER) in 2011.
The 2011 individual medalists were Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam (GER), gold; Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo (GER), silver; and Frank Ostholt (Little Paint), bronze.
Michael Jung is the reigning Olympic, World and European champion and is the only rider in history to have held all three titles simultaneously.
There are four other former European champions entered: Bettina Hoy (GER) (1997); Pippa Funnell (GBR) (1999 and 2001); Nicolas Touzaint (FRA) (2003 and 2007) and Kristina Cook (2009).