British event team announced for European Championships

Gemma Tattersall Event Rider Masters at Chatsworth
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The British eventing team at the 2017 FEI European Eventing Championships in Strzegom, Poland has been announced.

Senior debut

Oliver Townend will be the pathfinder riding Cooley SRS and he is joined by Tina Cook with Billy The Red, Nicola Wilson with Bulana and Ros Canter on Allstar B. Ros was the highest placed Brit at Badminton this year coming fifth, but this is her senior championship debut.

The two individual riders are Piggy French with Quarrycrest Echo and Gemma Tattersall on Quicklook V.

Ireland also has a strong team comprised: Michael Ryan (Dunlough Striker), Joseph Murphy (Sportsfield Othello), Austin O’Connor (Kilpatrick Knight) and Sarah Ennis (Horseware Stellor Rebound). Patricia Ryan (Dunrath Eclipse) will ride as an individual.

Record numbers

The action kick off on Thursday 17 August, with a record 19 nations taking park. It is the first time the Championships have been held in Strzegom, although it has hosted Nations Cup, World Cup and the European Eventing Junior Championships in recent years.

The venue has undergone a number of improvements in time for Europe’s most prestigious eventing contest. New facilities at Strzegom Hippodrome include a new water complex, new dressage arenas and bigger and better warm up areas.

Challenging course

The cross-country course has been designed by Rüdiger Schwarz, who designed the 2013 European Championship course at Malmo in Sweden. He is also the regular designer at Aachen.

“My vision was to build a challenging course that still allows as many combinations as possible to safely get past the finish line,” said Rüdiger. “The course features several options for the riders and allows the top riders to push for the most time-saving and difficult lines.”

Gemma Tattersall is on incredible form with Quick Look, having won two legs of the Event Rider Masters at Chatsworth and Gatcombe, where she was also named the British Open Champion. Quick Look is one of the fastest cross-country horses in the world, so no doubt Gemma will be taking all the short routes.

Medal winners

Last year Britain won team silver behind the German gold medallists, while France took bronze. In the individual competition Germany took the top two spots, with Michael Jung and FischerTakinou winning gold and Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo winning silver. Bronze went to France’s Thibaut Vallette and Qing du Briot ENE HN.

So who will come home with the medals this year? The Germans are looking strong, as always, and will be hoping to win their fourth successive gold. Michael Jung is back to defend his title, this time riding FischerRocana FST, who achieved back-to-back wins at Kentucky, as well team gold and individual silver medals in the 2014 World Championships.

Ingrid Klimke has been a member of every German team since 2005. Her partner this year is her 2015 European gold medalist Horseware Hale Bob. The pair also won Olympic team silver in Rio and recently took the Aachen CIC3*.

Gold dust

Britain has dominated the European Championships for many years, with an unbroken run of eight titles from 1995 to 2009. Their new team trainer Christopher Bartle helped Germany to three Olympic golds and multiple championship medals, so can he sprinkle a little of his gold dust over this year’s team?

Another team to watch is France, who beat Germany to gold at the Rio Olympics. They are fielding six riders, including Tom Carlile from France.

Tom’s horse Upsilon is only nine years old, but the stallion is the hottest horse of the moment. The pair won the Event Rider Masters final at Blenheim last year, were second at Saumur and then won this year’s Barbury CIC3*. Could he be the one to take Michael’s crown?

You can watch highlights of all the action from Strzegom on H&C. FEI Europeans 2017: Eventing is on 26 August at 9pm on Sky 253, or you can watch online via H&C Play or Amazon Video.