GB showjumpers in line to add European gold to 2012 success
August 21, 2013 16:27 pm
Great Britain’s showjumping team performance manager Rob Hoekstra insists his European Championships quartet won’t be taking anything for granted despite topping the leaderboard at Herning's MCH Arena.
The British team head into the final phase as the team to beat as London 2012 heroes Ben Maher and Scott Brash, as well as Michael Whittaker, all jumped clear rounds.
William Funnell could not follow suit as he scored 12 faults on Billy Congo but Great Britain were able to discard this score to sit atop the leaderboard with a score of 8.18 points.
Germany are the only country in showjumping history to have held Olympic and European team titles simultaneously but after their London 2012 success Britain could now join them.
However Britain last conquered Europe 24 years ago when they were inspired by Whitaker's older brother John.
Switzerland sit second, just 0.27 penalties behind, while France are third, a further 2.69 penalties adrift.
"There is a long way to go, but they are riding great and we are looking a strong team," Hoekstra said.
"If we keep jumping clear rounds, then we have a real possibility of winning.
"There were three exceptional clear rounds today, and if Will jumps clear tomorrow I will be very happy. You can't do better than three clears and not add to our overnight score."
Meanwhile, there could be a double celebration in the offing as Maher also leads the individual competition, which will be concluded on Saturday, aboard 11-year-old grey mare Cella.
"She (Cella) doesn't have the most experience of this kind of level day on day, but she is jumping great," said Maher, who has had the ride on American Jane Clark's horse for just nine months.
"Time faults are very expensive, so maybe I almost went a little too quick, but she actually jumps better with pace.
"The course was difficult enough. The double to the water was kind of a big stretch out, followed by a choice of six or seven strides, and I almost ran out of room before the water. Luckily, the horse has wings, so it helped a bit!
"She has never done a championship before. It is her first season in Europe, really.”
© Sportsbeat 2013