All ready for action at Riesenbeck….
The Horse Inspection and first training session were staged today ahead of tomorrow’s opening competition of the Longines FEI Jumping European Championship 2021 at Riesenbeck International in Germany. The exciting new equestrian centre created by international showjumping star Ludger Beerbaum in conjunction with Baron Constantin Heereman will be home to athletes and horses from 22 nations over the next five days as the medal race is played out.
A total of 15 countries are fielding teams, with Austria, Czech Republic and Turkey sending just three horse/athlete combinations while Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden have full teams of four. Greece, Hungary, Israel, Poland, Portugal, Russia and Slovenia will be represented by individuals.
Team Belgium are defending champions but, whether they like it or not, it is the newly-crowned Olympic champions from Sweden who are really under the spotlight. Peder Fredricson, individual silver medallist and hero of the thrilling jump-off that claimed team gold for Sweden for the first time in 97 years at the Tokyo 2020 Games just over three weeks ago has been called up again but with a different horse – Catch Me Not – and he’s not taking anything for granted.
“I don’t think I can take anything from Tokyo to Risenbeck, it is a completely different event with another format, different footing and a different horse”, he said today. But Catch Me Not is in fantastic form right now. “I just hope he will keep this shape over the Europeans. He is quite a big horse, he is not the fastest, but he has a lot of blood.
Sometimes this is not so easy to see, because he is a slow mover”, Fredricson explained.
So he doesn’t expect to be in the lead after tomorrow’s opening class which is a Speed competition. But he has a simple plan. “My goal is to jump as many clear rounds as possible and in the end we will see how far that brings us”, he said.
But even though this is a very different Swedish team it’s still a strong one, bolstered by double Olympic silver medallist Rolf-Goran Bengtsson who, after something of a hiatus while rebuilding his string of horses, is now right back in the game thanks to Ermindo W.
“He’s still at the beginning of the big sport, I took it carefully with him when he was younger and of course I didn’t really have the chance to do too much with him because I lost several horses in a short time and that means you can’t go to the bigger shows because you have no first horse” Bengtsson explained this afternoon.
However the pair won the Swedish Championship last summer and were selected for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2021 at St Gallen in Switzerland in June 2021 where, in less than ideal weather conditions, they clinched victory for their country in a thrilling jump-off. Then it was on to Rotterdam (NED) where they jumped double-clear with a time fault before being named as reserves for Tokyo.
“It’s a different team here but I think it’s a good one and it’s so nice to be back in the side again, I hope we have great success together this weekend!” Bengtsson said. He’s joined by Fredricson, Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli, Evelina Tovek and Douglas Lindelow.
Bengtsson is very impressed by the venue at Riesenbeck. “The stables are great and the indoor is lovely, there’s plenty of space and we are surrounded by trees and out in the countryside. The big grass ring where the Championship competitions will take place looks brilliant, and now it seems the weather is going to be good – what more can we ask for!”, he said as the sun suddenly came out.
It’s clear that, although they are playing it down, the Swedes are in fact feeling pretty confident. “We are an experienced team and have a chance of a good placing. In the individual we will take it day by day and do our best to qualify for the top 25 on Sunday. We will see….”, he added with a smile.
The draw took place this afternoon and the team order of go is Great Britain, Spain, Turkey, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, France, Czech Republic, Belgium, Ireland, Germany and Austria.
The action kicks off at 11.00 tomorrow (Wednesday 1 September) when Great Britain’s Georgia Tame will be first into the arena with Z7 Ascot.
Don’t miss a hoofbeat…..