FEI Eventing European Championship Avenches 2021 gets underway

FEI Eventing European Championships 2021
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FEI Eventing European Championship Avenches 2021 gets underway

Dutch first out of the starting blocks, Swiss get last-to-go draw – Written by Louise Parkes

The Netherlands got the number one slot when the draw for order-of-go was made at the FEI Eventing European Championships 2021 in Avenches, Switzerland.

Horse and athlete combinations from 17 nations will line out at this 35th edition which will take place at the Institut Equestre National d’Avenches, with Dressage getting the action underway this morning.

A total of 67 combinations will compete for the team and individual medals, with a powerful German contingent lining out as defending champions in both categories.

Dressage 

First of the 34 starters to come before the Ground Jury panel of Andrew Bennie (NZL), Christian Steiner (AUT) and Christian Landolt (SUI) in the Dressage phase will be the Dutch duo of Jordy Wilken and Burry Spirit, and they will be followed by Belgium’s Kris Vervaecke (Guantanamo van Alsingen) and Ireland’s Sam Watson (Ballybolger Talisman).

Riders from Sweden, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Russia and Great Britain will then take their turn before the morning interval, and when the action restarts it will be Czech Republic’s Miroslav Trunda (Tmka-Ruf) who enters the arena. Poland’s Malgorzata Korycka (Canvalencia) and Belgium’s Julia Schmitz (Lady Like) will bring Day 1 action to a close.

Another 33 pairs will take their turn on Friday when individuals from Denmark, Lithuania and Finland will also compete. Switzerland’s Felix Vogg and Cartania will be last to go on Friday, but all eyes will be on Germany’s Ingrid Klimke who will line out a little earlier in the day with the 17-year-old SAP Hale Bob, because this fabulous pair are going for individual gold for a record-breaking third consecutive time, and they will be key players in defence of the team FEI Eventing European Championship title.

They stepped it out in style at today’s first Horse Inspection in which all of the 67 horses presented were passed fit to compete.

Cross-Country

Saturday brings the exciting cross-country phase, and horses have absolute priority for course designer Mike Etherington-Smith from Great Britain.

For him, one simple principle is at the heart of it all. As he said in an interview earlier this year,

“I’m 100% on the side of the horse, and their safety and welfare has to be top of the list!”

Cross-Country Course Designer Mike Etherington-Smith (GBR)

The venue at IENA (Institut Equestre National d’Avenches) was only confirmed in March 2021, so the lead-in has been short and intense. But this is a man who has put his stamp on many of the world’s greatest events and tracks, including the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and the FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky (USA) in 2010.

Speaking he described the FEI Eventing European Championship Avenches as “a largely flat venue, but it’s been my job to make it interesting! It’s a racing venue for steeplechasing and trotting, and they’ve done a fantastic job to put it together in a very short time. It’s been hectic but full credit to everyone here.”

The time set for his course which consists of 40 jumping efforts and 32 jumps is 10 minutes 7 seconds. As he said earlier in the year his trademark style is “no tricks, and no surprises…..fences need definition and contrast so the horse knows exactly what it is being asked to do”. But there is sure to be plenty of drama as cross-country day plays out.

Medals will be awarded after Sunday’s final Jumping phase, and you can keep up with all the action and excitement as the 35th FEI Eventing European Championships kicks off today (23rd September) 10.00 local time.

Startlists and Results here

For all eventing news visit our event reports and news category of the website.

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