As if scripted to perfection, Sweden’s Rio Olympic individual silver medallists, Peder Fredricson (45) and the 11-year-old gelding H&M All In, galloped to victory on the opening day of Jumping at the FEI European Championships 2017 in Gothenburg (SWE) today.
But it was the Swiss who gained the early advantage in the team event when brilliant rounds from Romain Duguet (Twentytwo des Biches) and Martin Fuchs (Clooney) were backed up by a breath-taking run from Steve Guerdat (Bianca) who slotted into fourth place individually at the of the day.
Portugal’s Luciana Diniz (Fit for Fun) lies third and Germany’s Marcus Ehning (Pret a Tout) is in runner-up spot in the individual rankings going into tomorrow’s first round of the team competition. But as Fredricson said this afternoon, there’s a long week of great sport ahead before the medals are decided.
“My plan was not to win today but to place in the top 10, but then I saw Marcus and I thought – I want to beat him! Ok, I’m joking, but the main thing is that there are many days to go, and the most important thing is to have the horse jumping well for the rest of the week and not be too far back (in the standings). All In is a horse that has very big strides so it’s not difficult to take away strides with him and still have him jumping in a good way, so this course suited us very well.” Peder Fredricson SWE
You couldn’t say that for many others, although Swiss pathfinder Nadja Peter Steiner (Saura de Fondcombe) was one of the very many to be clear all the way only to fall victim to the penultimate double, where the combination of a turn down the final line, bright red poles and strong shadows led to expensive poles on the ground. However with the best three scores to count her team-mates pulled it back so they hold pole position when the action resumes tomorrow afternoon.
“I’m really happy, I did what I wanted to do, I was lucky that he is naturally a very fast horse so I was good in time,” said runner-up Marcus Ehning about his ride. “The pressure is always greater if the first riders are really good, but after we didn’t have a super start I could do just my own thing. Philip (Weishaupt) at the end also did a good round, so I hope we are not too far away.”
It’s incredibly close between the leading sides, the reigning Olympic team champions from France stalking the Swiss by a margin of just 1.63 after today’s results were calculated into penalty points, and the hosts from Sweden just 0.43 behind and shadowed by the Irish who are only 0.9 further adrift of that. The Spanish are a close fifth, follow ed by Austria, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Portugal who lie tenth of the 17 competing nations.
It was a tough day today for the defending champions from The Netherlands who swept all before them in Aachen (GER) two years ago but who are lying 12th, behind Norway, on a team total of 14.53, going into tomorrow’s competition from which only the top 10 nations will qualify for Friday’s team medal decider.