Malmo - European Eventing Championships

Sabrina Barnwell MVB MRCVS on 11 September 2013

As Connolly’s RED MILLS are very active in export sales in Sweden, I had to travel to Malmo for a business meeting recently. Conveniently, it turned out that the European Eventing Championships was on while I was there! Life is tough but somone has to do it!

The setting in Malmo is fabulous; on the first day of dressage we went for a little wander around and caught some of the best eventers in Europe having a leisurely play in the sea. The championship site is in an idyllic location on a public park along the coast just minutes from the city centre of Malmo.

The Irish team was made up of: Austin O’Connor on Ringwood Mississippi, Sarah Ennis on Sugar Brown Babe, Sam Watson on Horseware Bushman and Joseph Murphy on Electric Cruise.

Two Irish individuals also made the trip: Jim Newsam on Magennis and Clare Abbott on Euro Prince. There were dramatic last minute changes in the Irish team with Elizabeth Power unfortunately having to withdraw at a late stage due to a minor injury with September Bliss. Jim Newsam barely had time to pack a suitcase before he was in the lorry and on the road.

So, exciting times for Connolly’s RED MILLS as Austin and Sam for Team IRL and Tina Cook for Team GB are all part of Team RED MILLS. On arrival, all the horses had travelled well and flew through the initial trot up. The horses were all in good condition but when I caught up with Sam Watson I noticed a rather dramatic bandage on his left ring finger. For any of you that read my pre Malmo blog, I described Sam as very calm, confident and relaxed about competing at the championships. Well, perhaps in the run up to future championships we need to keep him away from the power tools! Boys will be boys and they do tend to ignore the instructions on anything but I am sure the instructions in this case would have suggested not applying the power tools to your digits!? 

Four days of intense competition, with a start list of 61 competitors, kicked off with impressive dressage scores from the German team. The Irish performed very well in the dressage with each member of the squad producing solid tests. The cross country track in Malmo is quite a long and narrow area and so was quite twisty and the time looked tight. The bogey fence was always going to be the drop and skinny at 22. The drop alone was scary to me but with the added problem of an offset corner it looked almost impossible. Austin O’Connor was the Irish pathfinder and had a really unlucky 20 penalties at this fence. The rest of the team, learning from Austin’s feedback made it look easy. Sam and Horseware Bushman were clear and just one second over time, no mean feat.

After the first two phases of the competition, the Germans were almost unbeatable with Michael Jung having an impeccable dressage and a faultless cross country. The Swedish and French were on the tails for team placing and team GB had fallen down the standings in spite of Tina Cook’s master class in cross country on the legendary Miners Frolic.

At 8.30 on Sunday morning we waited with fingers crossed. Prayers were being offered up to all the gods that the horses were sound for the trot up. Ringwood Mississippi, Horseware Bushman and Miners Frolic gleamed with health and bounced down the trotting strip with no worries at all.  The final verdict saw Team Ireland and Team RED MILLS get the all clear. 

From the side of the arena, the show jumping track looked reasonably straight forward but it was not to be the case as it proved costly to many of the riders. Most notably, the Swedish teams’ promising young rider, Ludwig Svennerstal, dropped from the final podium from an overnight position of third, and William Fox-Pitt dropped from second to an eventual bronze position. The German team claimed a resounding victory with Michael Jung also winning the individual title and Ingrid Klimke taking the silver medal.

While the showjumping was running in the main arena I took some time to see what other attractions were on offer. Unbelievable as it may seem…..they also had a rabbit jumping competition! Yes its true, rabbits on leads jumping miniature showjumping fences. Elite sportsmanship or not, this was definitely the highlight of my week. Reports are that all the Team RED MILLS horses have made it home and are well, so obviously Horse Care 10 is a valuable competition feed……time to look at a RabbitCare range?

Well done to all involved. Looking forward to WEG in France next year!