IRELAND took home two medal from the 2022 FEI European Youth Eventing Championships in Hartpury, Britain last weekend. The junior (u18) team secured team silver after an exceptional performance, while the Young Riders followed up with a team bronze.
By the narrowest of margins (0.1), a phenomenal show jumping performance on the final day saw the junior team overtake Germany to land silver on a score of 95.7, while the home nation won the gold on a score of 92.8.
Dag Albert selected his team as Co Down’s Tom Rowlatt McCormick with Mon Ami Alme, Kildare’s Julia Adams aboard Milchem Ardeo, Westmeath’s Ted O’Leary with My Ballintoghers Cracker Jack and Galway’s Godfrey Gibbons with Milchem Free Spirit.
After the first phase of dressage, the team were in the bronze medal position with all four riders scoring in the low 30s. O’Leary was the best place individually on a score of 30.8; Gibbons scored 31.1; Rowlatt McCormick was on 31.9 and Adams on 32.7. Individual rider, Susan Shanahan with Eisfee, was also well placed on an opening score of 31.8.
Saturday’s cross-country asked plenty of questions and there was a host of 20 penalties on the course, however, some 21 of the 52 that completed the competition were clear inside the time, including Gibbons, Rowlatt McCormick and Adams, to keep Ireland in the bronze medal position. Unfortunately for Ted O’Leary, 20 penalties and 7.6 for time put end to his hunt for an individual medal on this occasion.
However, that didn’t dent his confidence as he, and his three teammates, all jumped foot-perfect clear rounds in Sunday’s final show jumping phase to heap the pressure of Germany who were sitting in silver and down to three riders. When Hedda Vogler had two fences down, Ireland moved up to take the silver.
Gibbons finished in fifth place individually on his dressage score of 31.1 with the 10-year-old mare Milchem Free Spirit (Contra A x Nautilus) who is one of two horses on the team bred by Galway’s Ralph Conroy, the other being Julia Adams’ eighth-placed mount Milchem Ardeo, an 11-year-old mare also by Contra A out of Lady of the Tribe (Woodpas). Tom Rowlatt McCormick finished sixth with Fran Rowlatt McCormick’s home-bred 14-year-old gelding Mon Ami Alme.
Germany’s Mathies Rüder lead from pillar to post on a score of 25.2 to claim the individual gold with Bon Ton, ahead of Britian’s Isabelle Cook aboard Mexican Law (26.6). Bronze went to Italy Giulia Margherita Wilma Pavesi with the Mary Rothwell-bred traditional Irish Sport Horse Greenhall Derry River (Crosstown Dancer x Shernazer) on a score of 29.9.
A delighted chef d’equipe, Dag Albert, said: “It was a brilliant performance all week. They all had very solid dressage tests to start off with. In the final show jumping they were all outstanding. We have all been working hard preparing since Christmas. They have all turned up and worked hard through the winter and it is paying off now.
“We are very happy, they were rock solid, very consistent throughout and we were close enough to the gold in the end. It was a real team effort. Our junior riders and Sue’s young riders – we were all working as one big team together. I have to thank all of the parents for their hard work and support, our sponsors, trainers, everyone at Horse Sport Ireland and all of our excellent sponsors.”
Bronze for Young Riders
Just a few hours later, Ireland were back on the podium as Sue Shortt’s Young Rider team of Jennifer Kuehnle from Co Laois with Sammy Davis Junior (ISH), Kildare’s Alannah Kelly on Cooley Bounce (ISH), Waterford’s Heather O’Connor with HSH Has it All (ISH) and Kildare’s Zara Nelson aboard OLS King Aragon (ISH) held off a strong challenge from France to take the team bronze medal.
Ireland finished less than one penalty ahead of the French at the finish, with a brilliant clear from Ireland’s last rider, Jennifer Kuehnle with Mags Kinsella’s Sammy Davis Junior, sealing third place on the podium for the Irish who finished on a final score of 123.9. Britain took their second team gold of the day with a score of 105.6 while Germany collected the silver on 109.6.
Kuehnle started the competition with a dressage score of 30.2 in seventh and added just 4.8 time penalties across the country to finish on 35, just off the podium in fourth place with the 13-year-old Imperial Hights gelding who, bred by Amanda Vogan, was previously ridden by Kinsella by her boyfriend Cathal Daniels.
Alannah Kelly finished 11th individually aboard Caroline Kelly Cooley Bounce (Grange Bouncer x Master Imp), bred by Thomas Duffin, on 39.1. Individual rider Sadhbh Bolger was next best of the irish in 16th place with Margaret Bolger’s Cooley Cappuccino, an 11-year-old by Ghareeb who was bred by Donnacha Anhold. Zara Nelson completed in 27th place while Heather O’Connor suffered a fall at fence 18 on cross-country.
The individual gold went the way of France’s Zazie Gardeau with the French-bred Cesar de Commarin LA, on a score of 32.1. They rose from fourth after dressage to claim gold when clear in the show jumping. Germany’s Paula Reinstorf took silver on 32.4, ahead of Britain’s Alice Casburn in bronze on 33.8.
Young Rider Eventing High Performance Director Sue Shortt commented: “I am delighted that the team won a well-deserved bronze medal today. We started the competition with solid dressage performances thanks to Heike Holstein. Our fortunes turned on Saturday morning when Ava (Banahan) had to go to hospital with what turned out to be a stomach abscess, and our second team rider Heather, had an unlucky fall at the influential fence 18.
“Sadhbh put in one of only four clear cross-country rounds inside the time to settle the ship. The riders dug deep and fought hard to stay in a medal position for the rest of the weekend. Our vet JP King was very professional as always, Gerry Flynn was excellent in the show jumping when we were battling the French for bronze. But all credit to the riders who stepped up under pressure to medal.”