The State of the Nations: Your Guide to Each of the Teams Tackling the 2023 European Championships

Stiff competition? Check. A plethora of nations gunning for the podium? Double check.

Next week’s FEI European Championships at Haras du Pin might have a slightly smaller-feeling entry list than usual – it’s just 58 combinations and 14 nations this time – but the competition will be no less fearsome for that trio of team medals on offer. We’ve pulled together the lowdown on all ten teams, their recent form, their riders and horses, and where they stand in the Paris qualification situation, to help you make the most of your live-streaming experience throughout the competition – and maybe even give you an ‘underdog’ to support, too.

Settle in, get comfy, and let’s take a look at the competition at large.

EN’s coverage of the FEI European Championships for Eventing is brought to you with support from Kentucky Performance Products.

Chef d’equipe: Thomas Tesch is the team manager of the Austrian line-up, while German Olympic medallist Matthias Baumann is the chef d’equipe.

Team members: 

  • Daniel Dunst and Chevalier 97
  • Katrin Khoddam-Hazrati and Oklahoma
  • Lea Siegl and Van Helsing P

Individual riders: None

Are they qualified for Paris? Nope. They’re one of four teams who’ll be fighting for one of the two tickets up for grabs here. Realistically, this is the last-chance saloon for them – they’ve only done two Nations Cups legs, and they sit seventh on that leaderboard, several hundred points off the top spot. With just two legs left, it’s unlikely they’d be able to claw back enough marks to earn the one spot available from that avenue.

When did they last win a Europeans medal? Austria has not yet medaled at a European Championships – though they did sneak into fourth place going into cross-country at the 2021 Euros, when three of their four team competitors earned sub-30 scores, and Lea Siegl was fifteenth at the Tokyo Olympics, so don’t write them off entirely.

What’s their form like? Austria brings forward a three-member team, which is notable as they’re the only country without a valuable drop score. Austria is still in its developmental stages as an eventing nation, which isn’t to say that they don’t have some very talented horses and riders among them – Lea and Van Helsing P, for example, have already won at CCI4*-S and CCI4*-L this year. This European Championships is about building on the hard work that Austria has put in to produce a team completion; if that Olympic qualification can happen, that’ll be an incredible moment for them, but realistically, they’ll know that it’s something of a pipe dream. They earned an impressive sixth place at last season’s European Championships, which they would be delighted to replicate here. Austria is certainly growing in strength and has it in their wheelhouse for a solid performance.

Chef d’equipe: Kai Steffen-Meier, who rides for Germany and is married to team member Lara de Liedekerke-Meier. Together, they host the Arville International Horse Trials at their fairytale property.

Team members: 

  • Lara de Liedekerke-Meier and Hermione d’Arville
  • Karin Donckers and Fletcha van’t Verahof
  • Cyril Gavrilovic and Elmundo de Gasco
  • Tine Magnus and Champagne Pia Z
  • Senne Vervaecke and Google Van Alsingen
  • Jarno Verwimp and Mahalia

Individual riders: TBC

Are they qualified for Paris? No. But they’ve hedged their bets, putting forth a very strong line-up here and heavily targeting the Nations Cup series, too, which they lead after six of eight legs by a margin of 110 points. The next leg will be their home one at Arville – but on current form, we’re tipping them to take one of the two team qualifications at Haras du Pin.

When did they last win a Europeans medal? As a team? Back in 2009 at Fontainebleau in France, where they were bronze medallists. They’ve also been bronze medallists in 2003 at Punchestown, Ireland, and in 1999 at Luhmühlen. They’ve never won an individual European medal.

What’s their form like? Absolutely on the up-and-up. They failed to qualify for Tokyo after a serious showdown against the Swiss at the 2019 Nations Cup finale, and since then, they’ve been going through the growing pains of a rebuilding cycle — one that’s paying off in 2023. As a team, they’ve been absolutely walking away with the Nations Cup series, which will give them a confidence boost coming into this week, and individually, their riders have been seriously impressive. They look to be on the trajectory that we’ve watched Switzerland enjoy over the last few years – and for more info on this, we recommend checking out our chat with lynchpin Lara de Liedekerke-Meier, who has put a crap 2022 behind her and has been storming home with top tens and wins this year. Belgium’s bad luck in Pratoni looks to be the last chapter of a book they’re moving on from now, and putting your support behind them in France could be one of the most satisfying things you do.

Chef d’equipe: Thierry Touzaint – uncle of rider Nicolas – continues his long reign as head of the French team. He’s tasted gold before, and will want to do so again on home turf, as his team prepares for a home Olympics.

Team members: 

  • Karim Laghouag and Triton Fontaine
  • Stéphane Landois and Ride For Thais Chaman Dumontceau
  • Gireg Le Coz and Aisprit De La Loge
  • Benjamin Massié and Edition Fonroy
  • Gaspard Maksud and Zaragoza
  • Nicolas Touzaint and Absolut Gold HDC

Individual riders: TBC

Are they qualified for Paris? Yes! As host nation, they automatically earned their spot.

When did they last win a Europeans medal? In 2015 at a very damp Blair Castle in Scotland, Cadre Noir rider Thibaut Vallette and Qing du Briot took individual bronze – their first Europeans individual medal since Nicolas Touzaint became European Champion (for the second time!) at Pratoni in 2007 aboard Galan de Sauvagere. 2015 also saw them take team bronze, a title they’d won at the previous Europeans in 2013 at Malmö, and they were silver medallists in 2011 at Luhmühlen. In total, they’ve won 17 European team medals and five individual medals.

What’s their form like? Somehow, as it always seems to be with the French, both excellent and not quite there yet – which means that they tend to come into championships slightly under the radar, and then, fairly frequently, surprise everyone with total dominance. Okay, so they can’t really do the whole under-the-radar thing here, because they’re the host nation, and okay, maybe the Europeans isn’t always their happiest hunting ground in the way that the Olympics tends to be, but France’s squad of mostly young up-and-comers, plus a two-time European champion and an Olympic team gold medallist, looks like one you’d not want to bet against. Pratoni wasn’t their finest hour as a team, but they did have an individual sixth place finish thanks to Gaspard and Zaragoza, and Stéphane is a seriously hungry, ultra-competitive young riders. It’s easy enough to see that team leader Thierry is working with a timeline that’ll encourage his charges to peak for Paris, and this will be a fascinating dress rehearsal for them all.

Chef d’equipe: Prof. Dr. Jens Adolphsen takes on chef duties, ably assisted by team trainer Peter Thomsen, a former team rider in his own right, who tackles his second Championships solo after shadowing long-term chef d’equipe Hans Melzer for the last eighteen months or so prior to Hans’s retirement.

Team members: 

  • Nicolai Aldinger and Timmo
  • Sandra Auffarth and Viamant Du Matz
  • Malin Hansen-Hotopp and Carlitos Quidditch K
  • Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH
  • Jérôme Robiné and Black Ice
  • Christoph Wahler and Carjatan S

Individual riders: TBC

Are they qualified for Paris? Ja. They secured that at Pratoni last year when they won team gold.

When did they last win a Europeans medal? They were bronze medallists as a team at Avenches in 2021, and gold medallists the year prior at Luhmühlen. Avenches’s individual podium was a British whitewash, but at the five (!) Europeans preceding it, Germany took at least gold and silver individually, passing the top spot back and forth between Michael Jung and Ingrid Klimke. They have 42 Europeans medals in total, and have won the team gold six times, making them the second most successful country in the history of this competition.

What’s their form like? Very, very good. They won the team gold at last year’s World Championships with a team that mixed old and new blood, and they’re going with much the same strategy this week. Once again, we’ll see Michi Jung and the unbelievable fischerChipmunk FRH, former World Champ Sandra Auffarth and Viamant du Matz, and emerging superstars Christoph Wahler and Carjatan S come forward as, undoubtedly, the lynchpins of the team, while that fourth and final slot could be admirably filled by any of the three newer faces on the roster. The likeliest is Malin Hansen-Hotopp and Carlitos Quidditch K, who won Blenheim CCI4*-L last season and were eleventh here out of over 100 last summer. Germany is Great Britain’s most obvious threat this week.

Chef d’equipe: Chris Bartle and Richard Waygood, who both joined the team in late 2016 after a disappointing Rio performance a few months prior. Since then, the team has gone from strength to strength, and it’s no suprise: Chris Bartle was previously the architect of Germany’s success, and Richard Waygood helmed the British dressage team during its extraordinary trajectory from zero to hero.

Team members: 

  • Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo
  • Laura Collett and London 52
  • Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir
  • Tom Jackson and Capels Hollow Drift
  • Kitty King and Vendredi Biats
  • Tom McEwen and JL Dublin

Individual riders: TBC

Are they qualified for Paris? They are. They finished fourth at Pratoni last year and booked their ticket.

When did they last win a European medal? There wasn’t a single one that they didn’t win in 2021 – they took gold as a team, and all three individual podium places, too. Topmost of those was reigning European Champions Nicola Wilson and JL Dublin, who will return to try to retain his title, this time under Tom McEwen. The Brits are far and away the most successful team in Euros history: they’ve won 87 medals in total, while Germany, in second place, has won 42. Their tally includes 23 team golds (from 1981 to 2009, they only failed to win gold twice), and 18 individual golds. They are, in a word, formidable.

What’s their form like? Amazing, really, and they absolutely come into the Europeans as hot favourites – but they did the same at Pratoni last year and failed to earn a medal at all as a team, so nothing’s ever guaranteed in eventing, is it? Still, they currently hold team gold at the Olympics, European Championships, Young Rider Europeans, and Junior EuropeansThey also have the reigning World Champion and European Champion – the former, Yas Ingham with Banzai du Loir, is on the squad for Haras du Pin, while the latter, JL Dublin, is too. Then, there’s two Badminton winners in London 52 and Lordships Graffalo, a Burghley runner-up in Capels Hollow Drift, and a Luhmühlen runner-up in Vendredi Biats, who also has a history of excelling at European Championships. Last year, the feedback largely went that the experienced five-star horses didn’t quite respect the Pratoni fences – let’s hope that the same issue doesn’t happen in France with this squad of seriously high-flyers.

Chef d’equipe: Two-time Swedish Olympian Dag Albert, who joined Horse Sport Ireland as Eventing Team Manager last year.

Team members: 

  • Susie Berry and Clever Trick
  • Ian Cassells and Woodendfarm Jack
  • Sarah Ennis and Grantstown Jackson
  • Jennifer Kuehnle and Polly Blue Eyes
  • Joseph Murphy and Calmaro
  • Felicity Ward and Regal Bounty

Individual riders: TBC

Are they qualified for Paris? Indeed! That fifth-place finish at Pratoni secured that for them.

When did they last win a European medal? It’s not happened for them as a team since 1995, when they took bronze at Pratoni. They did the same in 1993 at Achselschwang, and in 1989, 1977, and 1971, all at Burghley, and they had a trio of team silvers in ’62, ’65, and ’67. Team gold has always eluded them, though they had done it individually: in 1995, Lucy Thompson became the European Champion, following in the footsteps of Eddie Boylan (1967) – but no other Irish rider would win a medal individually until Luhmühlen in 2019, when Cathal Daniels and Rioghan Rua won bronze.

What’s their form like? As a team, it’s something of a building process — the results aren’t consistent on the world stage, but every championship is a step towards figuring out a system that works. There’s an interesting strategy at play here, which sees Ireland sending forward a lineup of new faces – human and equine – and just a couple of the ‘old guard’. Even young but established talents such as Susie Berry are here on debutant team horses and riders like Ian and Jennifer will be making their Senior team debut – guided, of course, by the huge experience of Sarah Ennis and Joseph Murphy. With their Olympic qualification in the bag, though, they can tactically use this as a way to develop some serious strength in depth in their ranks.

Chef d’equipe: Giacomo Della Chiesa, who himself rode at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

Team members: 

  • Evelina Bertoli and Fidjy Des Melezes
  • Susanna Bordone and Imperial Van De Holtakkers
  • Fosco Girardi and Euphorie
  • Emiliano Portale and Scuderia 1918 Future
  • Federico Sacchetti and Grc Shiraz
  • Giovanni Ugolotti and Swirly Temptress

Individual riders: TBC

Are they qualified for Paris? No. They, like Belgium, have been hotly pursuing the Nations Cup series, in which they currently sit second on 400 points, with two legs left to tackle. They’ll be hoping to get the job done here so they don’t have to fight for that final showdown at Boekelo in October.

When did they last win a European medal? In 2017 at Poland’s Strzegom, they took team bronze. Prior to that, they’ve won three team medals at Europeans – a silver in 2009 at Fontainebleau, and bronze in 2007 at Pratoni and in 2001 at Pau. They’ve never yet won an individual medal.

What’s their form like? Still building in strength and cohesiveness, though there’s some real bright sparks among their line-up. Giovanni Ugolotti and Swirly Temptress are capable of some very strong results in excellent company, and Susanna Bordone and Imperial van de Holtakkers have masses of team experience, which will help them to support a team that’s otherwise largely made up of new faces or new partnerships — such as that of Emiliano Portale and Scuderia 1918 Future, who is new to his string this season. They’re under some pressure here, because they won’t want to have to do that end-of-season Boekelo battle if they can help it – so it’ll be interesting to see whether that translates to a play-it-safe strategy through the week or if they take some calculated risks to try to catch up with the business end of the leaderboard.

Chef d’equipe: British-based Andy Heffernan, who also continues to ride at the top level and has also picked up some course designing of late, is ordinarily the Dutch head of affairs – but this week, he’s riding instead, and team manager Ad Wagemakers is deputising.

Team members: 

  • Merel Blom-Hulsman and Vesuve D’Aveyron
  • Janneke Boonzaaijer and ACSI Champ De Tailleur
  • Andrew Heffernan and Gideon
  • Sanne de Jong and Enjoy

Individual riders: 

  • Elaine Pen and Divali
  • Jordy Wilken and Wilbert Bo

Are they qualified for Paris? No. They didn’t send a team to Pratoni. They’ve been targeting the Nations Cup series this year, and sit third on 380 after taking part in all six legs so far, so if they don’t have the week they want here, they’ll be hoping Italy and Belgium get those team tickets so they can take over the lead there.

When did they last win a European medal? Individually, it was 1993, when Eddy Stibbe took individual bronze aboard Bahlua at Achselschwang in Germany. That’s their only individual medal, but they did also take team silver in 1989 at Burghley.

What’s their form like? Like the rest of the as-yet-unqualified nations, it’s fair to say that this is a building stage for The Netherlands, who have struggled a bit to keep horsepower in the country. That’s why we don’t have the likes of, say, Tim Lips on this team – but it does bode well for talented young riders like Sanne de Jong, who has slowly, devotedly produced her homebred Enjoy to team status. Each of the riders on the team proper has plenty of experience to their names, which will hopefully help them to shoulder the pressure of getting the job done. An Olympic team ticket would, one hopes, lead to further funding for the Dutch, which might just help them to keep some of their very good horses in the country – because the Dutch front’s biggest hurdle in recent years has been that owner culture doesn’t really exist in the same way that we know it to in, say, the UK and the US.

Chef d’equipe: British-based Fredrik Bergendorff, who has proven a solid captain for the Swedish efforts so far (and also wears a pair of chinos exceptionally well).

Team members: 

  • Frida Andersen and Box Leo
  • Sara Algotsson-Ostholt and Dynamite Jack
  • Sofia Sjöborg and Bryjamolga Van Het Marienshof Z
  • Amanda Staam and Corpoubet AT

Individual riders: 

  • Lina Forsberg and Kaizen

Are they qualified for Paris? Yes! They finished sixth at Pratoni and secured the bag, as the kids say.

When did they last win a European medal? Arguably eventing’s origin country, Sweden was the dominant force in eventing in the early 20th century, and it was at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics that eventing as a sport made its debut. They were the gold medallists there, of course – but midway through the 20th century, their reign over the sport ended. These days, though, they’re very consistent at the Europeans: they were bronze medallists in 2021 and 2019, and silver medallists in 2017 and 2013, breaking a team medal-free streak that they’d been on since the 90s. Their last individual medal was a silver in 2003 for Linda Algotsson and Stand By Me.

What’s their form like? The Swedes have been consistent in the Nations Cup series, which is held at CCI4*-S and culminates at the CCI4*-L level at Boekelo. They’re very good at pinning down the series win, partly because they make sure to show up for as many legs as they can — and now they’re working on taking that consistency up to championship level. One of the ways they’ve been doing that is changing their priorities – after getting that Olympic qualification at Pratoni, they’ve barely touched the Nations Cup series this year, and have instead focused on putting their riders into as many top-class fields as possible, a strategy that saw them take a top-ten spot at Aachen with their one competitor, Frida Andersen and Box Leo. Their weakness at the moment is the dressage, and they’ve pulled in great help to work on this — but their team is based between the UK and Sweden, so the cohesiveness is tricky. They’ll be aiming to try to finish on the podium again with this young team, nonetheless.

Chef d’equipe: Dominik Burger – though a mention must go to the transformative power of cross-country coach Andrew Nicholson. He has been a major catalyst for the Swiss since joining on as cross county coach in 2018. It’s a job he clearly adores, and the young Swiss team are flourishing under his intuitive instruction. Andrew’s mantra is ‘never change a winning team’ – and so he’s worked to support each rider’s current system and tweak the bits that need help, rather than do a total overhaul.

Team members: 

  • Robin Godel and Grandeur De Lully CH
  • Mélody Johner and Toubleu De Rueire
  • Nadja Minder and Toblerone
  • Felix Vogg and Colero

Individual riders: None.

Are they qualified for Paris? They are. They were seventh at Pratoni and thus got the last team spot available there – which was a huge moment for the nation, who had previously scraped into Tokyo with a closely-fought showdown in the Nations Cup finale in 2019, the last possible chance to gain a qualification for that Games.

When did they last win a European medal? It’s been, admittedly, a hot minute: they were team silver medallists in 1981 at Horsens in Denmark, and in 1955 at Windsor, Great Britain. In 1981, they also took the individual gold, thanks to Hansueli Schmutz and Oran, did the same in 1959 at Harewood, Great Britain, when Hans Schwarzenbach became European Champion with Burn Trout (yes, really). In 1953, the very first Europeans, which was held at Badminton, Hans also won individual bronze, this time riding Vae Victis – two years, for what it’s worth, after the pair won Badminton proper, which was the most recent Swiss CCI5* win until last summer, when team member Felix Vogg won Luhmühlen aboard his Haras du Pin ride, Colero. Could history repeat itself?

What’s their form like? The Swiss team has gone from strength to strength over the last few years, culminating in that Olympic qualification – and although that was still pretty far off a podium finish, it was a big deal for a nation that didn’t really register on anyone’s radar previously. They’ve been pulling that team cohesiveness together with a couple of Nations Cup outings, both of which yielded podium finishes, but generally speaking, they’re given the space to follow their own programmes, and each has been earning smart results individually this year. A podium finish here would be a lofty goal, but one that feels fitting of the trajectory they’ve been on. They’ll come in ready to get gritty and fight for it, anyway, which is emblematic of the new Swiss front – gone are the play-it-safe also-rans; say hello to the fierce new world of Swiss eventing.

EN’s coverage of the FEI European Championships for Eventing is brought to you with support from Kentucky Performance Products.

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