Our original field of 76 is down to a mere 54 horse-and-rider combinations as we head into the showjumping at the Longines FEI European Championships at Luhmühlen.
Four horses were withdrawn before this morning’s final horse inspection, presided over by Martin Plewa, Anne-Mette Binder, and Peter Shaw: Spain’s remaining competitor Manuel Senra Chover did not present Cruising, nor did the Czech Republic’s lone representative Eliska Opravilova present Dunkas A. Austria is down to one rider after the withdrawal of Katrin Khoddam-Hazrati and Cosma, while Ireland loses Ciaran Glynn and November Night, who produced the first clear round inside the time across yesterday’s course, but who ‘picked up a small bump’, per a statement on Ciaran’s Instagram page.
This key withdrawal already holds enormous implications for the Irish team who, down to three riders, must count the score of Sam Watson and Tullabeg Flamenco, who picked up a 20 on course. But tensions rose dramatically during the inspection when the dun gelding was sent to the holding box. Fortunately, he was passed upon re-presentation.
Circumstances weren’t quite so fortunate for French team members Alexis Goury and Trompe l’Oeil d’Emery, who opted to withdraw from the holding box. This brings the French team, currently in bronze medal position, down to its final three riders – and they haven’t got a single rail in hand between the three of them if they want to stay ahead of Italy in the current standings.
Otherwise, we were delighted to see a group of hot, fresh, and keen horses come forward this morning, none of which looked the slightest bit tired after their efforts yesterday. Ireland’s Sarah Ennis, in particular, struggled to control her horse – and when Horseware Woodcourt Garrison buffeted his diminutive handler into the barriers separating the trot strip from the arena, the commentator quipped, “this is Europe, and they do drive on the wrong side over there.”
There were no dramas for the German team, who lead the way with a 14.3 penalty advantage. Can we expect anyone to make up the ground? Well…it’s probably not likely. While reigning champions Ingrid Klimke and SAP Hale Bob OLD and overnight leaders Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH are predicted to have a rail a piece – or potentially more, in the latter’s case, as this is the horse’s most difficult phase – both Andreas Dibowski and FRH Corrida and Kai Rüder and Colani Sunrise are expected to jump clear.
The British team, currently in silver medal position, can boast some of the most reliable showjumpers in the field – in fact, only Pippa Funnell and Majas Hope are predicted to pull a rail. But it’s not all about the numbers – it’s about the intangibles, too, and the pressure-cooker that is the final day at a championship. Buckle up, folks, because nothing’s over until it’s over.
The first session of showjumping will begin at 11.00 a.m. local time, while the second session will commence at 1.40 p.m. local time. Check out our Ultimate Guide to the event to find live-stream links and to check out the changes in the EquiRatings Prediction Centre, too. We’ll catch you on the flip side.