It’s time for EN’s writing team to make their predictions for this week’s European Eventing Championships!
Want to study up to make your own picks? Reference our Form Guide here and our Nations Form Guide here for more information than you could possibly need on each combination. Let us know who you’re picking for in the comments!
Team Podium: It would be all too easy for me to put the Brits in this spot — and look, they truly do go into this as odds-on favourites, and as the most successful nation ever (by a seriously long way!) in the entire history of the European Championships. But they also went to Pratoni as favourites, where they ended up fourth as a team after a series of little mishaps. No nation is infallible, and I think they’ve got some fierce competition this week, all of which will help to get them at their most blisteringly competitive for next year’s Olympics. So with that said, I think Germany, flying high off the back of their Pratoni win, and with plenty of experience at this venue, take the gold; the Brits take silver by the tiniest of margins, and the home side, who haven’t had much like in Europeans in recent years, rally in their Olympic ‘dress rehearsal’, and are buoyed by cheers of ‘allez, allez!’ to take a bronze medal that’ll leave them salivating for more next year.
Individual podium: It’s JL Dublin, Vendredi Biats, and fischerChipmunk, but I can’t give you an order or any rational analysis here because by the time I do, I’ll have changed my mind for the eighteenth time. Sorry!
Dark Horse: They’re not ‘dark horses’, really, but Tom Jackson and Capels Hollow Drift have been so impressive over the last couple of seasons, taking second at Burghley in 2022 and fifth at Burghley this year. I love this gutsy, game horse’s clever, catty approach to cross-country, and I think Tom Jackson is a seriously exemplary stamp of a rider. I’d love to see the crack the top ten here.
One to Watch: Stéphane Landois and Ride For Thaïs Chaman Dumontceau. They won a seriously tough Chatsworth CCI4*-S in appalling conditions earlier this year, and have been quietly impressive in all three phases over the last couple of years while they’ve been developing their partnership. In 11 FEI events together, they’ve finished in the top ten eight times; they average just under a 28 in the first phase at four-star, the 11-year-old has never added a time penalty at CCI4*-L (nor at CCI2*-L, and only once at CCI3*-L, in an early run for the partnership where they had a very uncharacteristic 20), has been clear at every four-star he’s done, and is a one-or-none showjumper, but didn’t touch a single pole at Chatsworth, where course and conditions alike were so bad that plenty of riders were technically eliminated for knocking too many rails. On paper, they’re formidable, but it’s also the story they bring to the table that makes them well worth your extra cheers: Chaman was previously piloted by much-loved young rider Thaïs Meheust, who tragically lost her life in 2019 at the age of 2022 after a freak fall on cross-country with the gelding at Haras du Pin. Now, Stéphane is deputising for his friend with the horse she hoped would take her to the top of the sport – and as he makes his own European Championships debut, so does Thaïs.
Spoiler Alert: Belgium’s getting one of those two Paris tickets. They’ve been on a serious upward trajectory this year, and their dominance in the Nations Cup series — which also yields an Olympic berth — means that in a funny sort of way, they come into the Europeans with some of the pressure taken off. I think they’ve got confidence on their side, and one of the two qualifying spots will go their way. It’ll be a great moment when it happens; they’ve not qualified a team for the Olympics since London 2012.
I’m guessing there’s not going to be much variety in EN’s podium predictions for this week’s competition, although there’ll perhaps be some slight shuffling back and to for which country will take the top and which will be snapping at their heels in silver.
The British line-up is a seriously serious one in terms of both horses and riders. The World Champions (Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir), former World Champion (Ros Canter), and European Champion (JL Dublin) are joined by Olympic team gold medalists (Tom McEwen – who also took the individual silver in Tokyo – and Laura Collett and London 52), Badminton winners (Ros and Lordship’s Graffalo), and Burghley and Luhmuhlen runners up (Tom Jackson and Capels Hollow Drift, and Kitty King and Vendredi Biats, respectively) – I mean, that is one impressive line-up, and even if I wasn’t British, I’d be backing them for the win. I know Pratoni didn’t go the Brits’ way for the team, but I’m predicting that the Euros will tell another tale altogether.
I have Germany down for the silver. As all eventing fans know, the German eventing team is a force to be reckoned with, for sure. As well as the formidable Michael Jung with the equally talented fischerChipmunk FRH, and former World Champion Sandra Auffarth with Viamant du Matz (who were 4th at Kentucky this season), the team (and individuals once they’re announced) is an interesting prospect which is full of potential. For me, Christoph Wahler’s Carjatan S should be on every eventing fan’s one to watch list – and keep an eye out for Nicolai Aldinger and Timmo on cross country day for a joyous example of a horse who truly loves his job with all his heart.
My third place goes to France. On home ground, with some decent recent form from all of the horses and riders, and a mix of experience and great potential, I think they’ll tip the scales over the other teams lining up this week.
Last year’s podium is one of those eventing moments that’s etched into my heart. Seeing those three women – Nicola Wilson, Piggy March and Sarah Bullimore – standing together in celebration summed up my long-time love for this sport. It’ll be poignant for JL Dublin to return as reigning champion with a new rider, but Tom McEwen’s gracious acknowledgement of the huge part Nicola has played in his successes with the horse (taking second place at both Kentucky and Boekelo) remind us that eventing is a journey with high highs, low lows, and a whole lot of love and respect – for our horses and one another. As a relatively new partnership, they’re obviously still learning and growing together (something else Tom talks about in his interviews), but I believe in great stories and Dubs doing the double would certainly be a lovely one.
I’m tempted to go with equal second rather than trying to pin down the next two places. I have a feeling that Germany will upset the British dominance over the podium that we saw last year, and that Michael Jung will be up there this time with fischerChipmunk FRH (more on this in my Spoiler Alert). But whether he’ll get one up on Walter (Ros Canter’s Lordships Graffalo) – we’ll have to wait and see. A horse who loves and excels in each phase equally is a hard one to beat, and Walter is one of those rare examples, as evidenced at Badminton (where he won this year and was second last year). After finishing on his dressage with the same score as bronze medalists Tim Price and Falco at the Worlds, taking fourth place due to cross country time, I hope to see Walter on the podium at these Championships.
My dark horse is literally a dark horse – and his name fits the bill too. Jérôme Robiné and Black Ice have been on my radar for a while now, and I’ve enjoyed watching them progress as a partnership. With their dressage scores hovering around the mid-20s, nary a cross county jumping penalty on their record together and generally just a handful of time, they’re set to be in a very strong position come Sunday. Their show jumping isn’t quite as secure as the other two phases – yet – but they can go clear and would be unlucky to roll more than one pole. Like certain couples or a pair of best friends, some horses and riders just seem to click, and that’s the feeling I get from these two.
One to Watch:
Another one I’ve had my eye on for a couple of years (well, since Tokyo), Lea Siegl seriously impressed me on her Olympic debut – not only was she the youngest rider in the field (aged 22) but she also finished 15th (with DSP Fighting Line). My interest in this exciting young rider is really thanks to some unfortunate commentary on the feed I was watching at the time – the guy had obviously drawn the short straw and was given a sport he didn’t have one clue about and the resulting fury I felt when he thought 15th place was laughable and an ‘oh dear’ moment, cemented my support for a young athlete who had performed brilliantly. Lea brings Van Helsing P to the Euros, and, as a huge fan of Gothic literature and having read ‘Dracula’ at least ten times, I obviously approve of this gelding’s name. His recent form isn’t bad either – with two wins, a top five and a top ten placing this season. For me, this is a real eventers’ horse – he’ll probably be around the 30 mark after dressage, but then he’ll jump clear on Saturday and Sunday and potentially be a leaderboard climber as the weekend progresses. Whatever happens, I’ll be rooting for Lea and will no doubt be impressed by her potential.
When Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir came second to Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH at Kentucky in 2022, I’m pretty sure Yas had no idea that just five months later, as she entered the World Championships show jumping ring in second place with Michael in first, that the tables would be turned this time around and she would end up beating the legend that is Michael Jung. I can only imagine what that must have been like for a young woman who must have watched his winning ways as she dreamed of riding at the top level when she grew up. And the tussle didn’t end there. Just a few weeks ago, in the 4*-S at Aachen, Yas and Michael were 1 – 2 on the podium once again with Yas taking the top spot. I can’t help but feel for Michael Jung. Whilst I aplaude and celebrate Yas’ success and am thrilled to see a young woman at the top of her game, I do remember how excited I was by fischerChipmunk FRH when he first appeared on the eventing scene (with Julia Krajewski), and I believe he’s been a bit unlucky (and achingly close to greatness) – what with that mim clip at Tokyo and the final fence at Pratoni. This time out, I think he’ll win out over Yas and Banzai du Loir, but perhaps not by much.
AH. This is a tricky one. I have three teams in mind, but the order in which they will stand atop the podium on Sunday is more difficult to settle on.
After much consternation, I’m going to put my neck on the line and put the Brits on top. Every. Single. One of the riders making the trip across the channel from Blighty have a roster of incredible results behind them – we’re talking Olympic Medals, a couple of World Championship titles, multiple 5* wins and indeed, European Team Championship titles too. Oh and they also have the current FEI World No. 2 amongst their ranks. That being said, the same was true of the team that went to Pratoni, and we all know what happened there. Still, perhaps as a result of their slip up in Pratoni, Team GBR are coming to France with a point to prove making them an even more formidable presence than usual, all of these riders have more than endless amounts of experience of not only riding under incredible amounts of pressure, but delivering top results whilst under said pressure – hence the countless titles held between them. So it is not just my ever present patriotism that puts them on the top of the podium in France – these guys will be more determined than usual to bring home the gold, and in doing so, laying the ghosts of their Italian nightmare to rest once and for all.
Silver though, is a little more difficult to decide. It is more than likely going to be a battle between France and Germany for second place. It would be nothing short of glorious for the home side to slide in there behind the Brits, and they certainly have a lot of form between them, but then, so do the Germans….not least of all that of Mr Jung, and Fischer Chipmunk. Sandra Auffarth is one hell of a seasoned campaigner, too and so for me, these guys edge sightly ahead of the French, who are definitely ‘up and coming,’ but just not quite there enough yet. Still a bronze on home soil will certainly give them reason to celebrate on the final day.
Sacre bleu! How can ANYONE make a sensible decision here?! My initial response to this was to mindlessly throw a handful of names out there, and leave it open ended as to which way round they eventually settle. In fact, that is probably what I am going to do here, anyway. Maybe it is a cop out, but I just cannot make my mind up. Decision making is not high in my skill set, ok?!
Most of the names I’m going to leave floating around the podium are, of course, British, and even more of them are female….Who can look past Yas, Ros and Laura?! You’ve got 2 World Champions, and an Olympic gold medalist right there, and it would be nothing short of GLORIOUS to think that we could have a re-run of 2021 out in France this weekend, with an all British, all female 1,2,3, but I think there will be a certain German who will be keen to put a spanner in the works. Twice in recent history has Mr Jung been denied the top spot; individual Gold in Tokyo evaded him as a result of that frangible pin, and a far less questionable coloured pole saw him lose out to our very own Yas in the Worlds last year. Thus he will have his eyes firmly on the top prize, and anyone attempting to get past him has quite a task on their hands. Time and again we have seen him lead from the front and Michi will be doing all he can to make sure it stays that way this weekend. He has beaten all of our Golden Girls on more than one occasion, and to be perfectly honest, patriotic as I am, it would be lovely to see him do it again, even if just as some vindication for the much discussed Tokyo pin. See, not such a cop out after all – I am putting someone up for Gold after all.
But as for Silver and Bronze, it is quite simply, IMPOSSIBLE for me to settle on. I’m not even able to narrow it down to two, interchangeable names. Laura, Ros and Yas are all capable of an excellent first phase score, and indeed, a double clear to seal the deal. So too, is a certain Mr McEwen with the 2021 European Champ, JL Dublin. In fact, the sentimental part of me wants him to take Gold, but the facts would suggest otherwise – Tom has yet to nail it 100% with ‘Dubz,’ and though he will be more determined than ever to pull off a top result after a verrrrryyyy near miss in Aachen, I think he will have to settle for either Silver or Bronze, at best. So yes, I am leaving four names to fight it out for two places, but like I say, decisions are not my strong point. So shoot me.
For me, this is easy. Lara de Liedekerke-Meier has had less than favourable results at Championships before this year – who can forget (though I am sure she would LOVE to) her shocking fall at the first fence in Pratoni last year?! However, thus far 2023 has proved to be an altogether better year for the Belgian rider, including a recent top ten placing in Aachen, with Ducati d’Arville. She brings forward her World Championship ride, Hermione d’Arville this weekend, and though she may have fallen on her last team outing, the now ten year old mare has proven herself on more than occasion since then, with several CCI-4*S placings, including fourth in the Nations Cup in Jardy in July. It’s unlikely that Lara will be fighting for the top spot, but this determined Belgian will be determined to pull out all of the stops, not only to put her own personal Championship problems to bed, but also to help her team secure their place at the Paris 2024 Olympics, which has eluded them thus far. As such, I’m predicting a top ten result, shaking up the usual proceedings in all the right ways!
One to Watch:
Again, this is a category that caused me quite the conundrum – there are a huge number of horses and riders that deserve to be named here. As such, I shall deliver you a (long) shortlist, of those that I considered bestowing this title upon, before deciding on one final name. Such is the power vested in me by this being my top picks, rather than those of more succinct and decisive individual. Combinations on that list include the 2022 CCI4*-L Blenheim Winner, Malin Hansen-Hotopp and Carlitos Quidditch K, one of Germany’s many emerging talents, and certainly one to watch for the future. Alongside her are fellow German Christoph Wahler and he delightful Carjatan S, and increasingly reliable pair, who have been nail bitingly close to pulling off a big result for a little while now – see their 4th place at Aachen if you need any verification of this. Similarly, the French duo of Gaspard Maksud and Zaragoza are incredibly close to smashing through to the top – they were 6th individually in Pratoni, and Zaragoza -Equiratings Horse of the Year 2022 – is still just ten years old, so the sky is surely the limit for these two in the future. Other notable names upon my list are Jérôme Robiné and Black Ice – a duo that fit together like peas in a pod, and that just keep on delivering solid results, as well as the young Austrian Lea Siegl and Van Helsing P, and Susie Berry with Clever Trick. Another combination I almost settled upon here was Switzerland’s Felix Vlogg, who has arguably already hit the big time with his 2022 Luhmuhlen champ, Colero, and is certainly capable of delivering an incredibly good result in France this weekend. However, although I will be keeping a very tight eye on those two, the combination I will be watching even more closely will be the 2022 Burghley runners up, Tom Jackson and Capels Hollow Drift. They romped to fifth place in Badminton earlier this year, and have been banging on the door of the big time for a number of years now. Incredibly consistent in the jumping phases, their first phase score means that they are unlikely to be in contention for a place on the podium, but mark my words, their senior team debut will be one to remember for all of the right reasons.
Hum de dum. I hate this category. I was going to go with Mr Jung finally grabbing back the Gold, but a. I have already alluded to that in the podium picks, and b. my esteemed colleague Cheg has already outlined that finisher for you perfectly. So instead, I offer you even less of a spoiler. Michi will not only lead from the front, but he will destroy the current European dressage score, delivering something like, IDK, a 17, or something equal ridiculous, that will see them etched into the record books, foreverrrrr. C’mon, you and I both know he’s got it in him, it’s just a case of when. This weekend, my friend, that’s when.
While my brain tells me that Germany has some pretty big names contesting this year — this time including one of my favorite pairs with former World Champion Sandra Auffarth on Viamant du Matz — my heart says that it has to be the 24th win for Great Britain this year. Four top women and two strong Toms will be taking to the field, and let’s just recap some recent accomplishments here: Ros Canter, our current Badminton champion and second-highest competing rider from Pratoni; Laura Collett, current Luhmühlen champion and previous Badminton champion; Yasmin Ingham, current Aachen and reigning World champion; Tom Jackson, Burghley silver medalist currently sitting 11th in the FEI World Athlete rankings; Kitty King, our Luhmühlen silver medalist who is on her third consecutive run at the European Championships, having helped her team take the gold in 2019; and Tom McEwen, World #2 Athlete riding the last Championships’ winning mount.
This absolute powerhouse team is guaranteed to show some great sport over the weekend, especially without German Olympian and Pratoni Team reigning champion Julia Krajewski to breathe down the neck of Yasmin Ingham once again. Germany is quite likely to be right on Britain’s tail for the silver, so this incredibly strong team had better be bringing their very best!
Look, I hope it’s finally going to be our sweet Tom McEwen’s time to shine here as an individual. JL Dublin has to protect his title, after all, and what better tribute to Nicola Wilson than her reigning champion taking another gold for Team Britain? Tom has been stuck in second for so long (silver medalist at the Tokyo Olympics, Pau 2021, Boekelo 2022, and Land Rover Kentucky this year), including currently sitting number two in the FEI Eventing World rider rankings, that I think it’s about time he gets his moment at the top of the podium. JL Dublin just continues to improve as time passes, and I’m excited to see how they fare here this weekend.
I expect 2022’s Le Pin au Haras Nations Cup champion Michael Jung to be right on Tom’s tail, but I think one of our British girl-power contestants will be right up there on the podium with them. Yasmin Ingham, reigning World Champion with Banzai du Loir, will surely be giving the boys a run for their money, but I could also see Ros Canter, Badminton champion and current World #3, really work to shake things up. Will it be a Michi sandwich on British bread, or will one of these ladies overtake fischerChipmunk on the podium to make room for the other?
The Austrian team may be small but mighty. Lea Siegl and Van Helsing P especially have been doing some pretty rockstar work lately, including staying within the top 10 at nearly every event in the last two years, a Nations Cup win at Strzegom in June, and a fifteenth place finish at the Tokyo Olympics. Let’s hope that the rest of Lea’s elite team can help scrape themselves through towards an Olympic qualification here.
One to Watch:
The addition of Nicolai Aldinger and Timmo to Sandra Auffarth and Michael Jung’s power team is what had me strongly pondering the possibilities of a German win this time around. I’ve never seen this gelding take a wrong step on cross country, and while they may not be the highest-placing pair historically, they sure are a pleasure to watch — let’s hope that plays in their advantage this time around! It sure doesn’t hurt that Timmo is very easy on the eyes… okay fine, and so is Nicolai. Sue me.
Team Podium: Team GB
It’s difficult to bet against the Brits in any capacity these days, and they’ve rustled up the A-team to head to France this week. You’ve got the 2021 European Champion horse (JL Dublin), the reigning World Champion (Yasmin Ingham), a former World Champ (Ros Canter), an Olympic gold medalist (Laura Collett), and two rising stars that have seriously made their mark on the sport in recent months (Tom Jackson and Kitty King). Any of these individuals are poised to shine on their day, but in the end the team will take priority as the Brits look to capture their 23rd team victory dating back to the very first iteration of Europeans at Badminton in 1953. No matter which way you toss the dice, I don’t see a whole lot of scenarios where the Union Jack doesn’t fly high come Sunday.
Individual podium: Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo
I’m not sure there’s a horse in the field I am more unabashedly obsessed with this year than Lordships Graffalo. This cheeky boy waltzed into his first 5* (Badminton, of course) last year and finished second, on his dressage mark, as if he’d been doing it his entire 10-year-old life. Then, as if that wasn’t enough of a statement, he returned to Badminton this spring and took home the whole cake with 2018 World Champion Ros Canter showing him the way once more.
Combine that absolute raw talent and the partnership he’s built with his rider since his young years with Ros’ vast amount of expertise and grittiness on tough competition days, and it’s not difficult to see them topping the individual podium (while, perhaps, also collecting their team medal) at the end of the weekend. I would expect this pair to swoop close to or into the lead after dressage, and if they can capture the time on a hot Saturday cross country, they’ll be in excellent position to capture the title once and for all.
Dark Horse: Gaspard Maksud and Zaragoza
Competing on home turf in the Europeans is a huge privilege, and Gaspard this weekend gets another shot at glory after seriously impressing us as an individual at last year’s World Championships in Italy. They were sixth individually there and could be a big threat to have a similar (or better) finish at Haras du Pin. They’ll be looking to leave it all out there, as this pair has also been named to the long list for the Paris Olympics and will do all they can to put themselves firmly on the short list after this weekend. Zaragoza’s Anglo-European breeding will serve her well for the endurance element of Saturday’s cross country, which could certainly benefit her once you factor in the heat index. Don’t be surprised if you see this pair flitting into the top 10 after a demonstrative round on cross country.
One to Watch: Lara de Liedekerke-Meier and Hermione d’Arville
I always love to see the horses Belgium’s Lara de Liedekerke-Meier brings to major events, as she can always be counted on to have a strong roster of homebred and handpicked prospects coming up the ranks under the Arville suffix. It was a bit of happenstance that caused the breeding that resulted in Hermione, after Lara received her dam (Kyra du Relais Pachis) as a “one-off after she seemed not to take well to the sport” and a breeding opportunity to Birkhof’s Royaldik via trade.
What I love about Lara is her resilience and her willingness to look inward when it comes to down times. After parting ways with Hermione at, of all fences, the first fence on the World Championships track last year, she admitted she had to pull herself out of it at first. “Falling at fence one at Pratoni was quite something,” she told Tilly earlier this year. “When I felt my head on the ground, I was like, ‘no way, I’ve got to wake up, there’s no way – it’s a nightmare’. But no, I never woke up. It was reality. I mean, everything happens for a reason — you don’t always know why, but I’m confident it will come along, and considering that the horses I have are good, I just need to keep producing them the right way.”
Lara’s brought Hermione tactfully back up to this level this year and has collected four finishes inside the top 10 (including two inside the top five) in FEI competition this season. Belgium stands poised to gain their hard-fought Olympic qualification this weekend, so all efforts will be focused on this ultimate goal — and Lara could be one to lead that charge.