On the final day of the FEI European Championships in Aachen, Germany (23 August 2015), the showjumping competition reached its finale with the Individual class contested. Going forward to compete for Great Britain after finishing in the top twenty-five athletes after Friday’s Team Final and Third Individual Qualifying round were Joe Clee and Ben Maher.
First in for the Brits was Ben aboard Tatiana Korsakova’s striking ten year old mare Diva II. With a technical track designed by Frank Rothenberger, the combination were unfortunate to see two fences fall, picking up 8 faults.
Joe Clee with Utamaro d’Ecaussines, owned by Ludwig Criel, was next to go into the packed stadium for Great Britain. The combination, who have performed superbly throughout the Championships, were unlucky to have a fence down in the first round, to head into Round Two with four faults.
Commenting afterwards Joe said; “In hindsight I probably should have gone on seven [strides] to the combination, kept the canter a little bit bigger, it would have made it easier for him to jump in. In the end I ended up a little bit too short and he slowed himself down, but the rest he jumped fantastic.”
After the first round of the class, the decision was taken that Ben and Diva would not contest the second round, as Ben explained; “She jumped a good round actually she was a bit keen but I'm very happy with the way she jumped today. [She's] maybe a little tired she's only a ten year old, but she's done a great job this week helping the team qualify. She's had a great first Championships; it's been a great experience and hopefully we can use that going forward. She's certainly proven that she's a championship horse this week, she's done me proud. She’s done her job this week, helping the team qualify [for the Olympics], she could easily jump another round but to move up only a couple of places and not be in contention for a medal I think it would be better to save her.”
With Round Two getting underway after a course re-design, Joe and Uta produced a good round but were very unlucky to have a single fence down and incur a single time penalty, to see them finish with 5 penalties and 14.00 penalties overall, for fifteenth place.
“The second round - if they could build a combination that was difficult for him then that was it, oxer, oxer and two waters and the water feature on that side,” commented Joe, “he was spooking off the lake then as he was drifting left the distances were obviously getting longer and longer for him and he couldn’t get out; he tried his best, he really tried to get out but couldn’t make it in the end. Everything else, one mistake per round today, he has done incredibly well - he’s jumped amazing.”
Ben and Diva finished their Championship on a total penalty score of 13.55 at the end of the four day competition, to finish in twenty-third place in the individual standings. The gold medal went to The Netherlands’ Jeroen Dubbeldam, Gregory Wathelet from Belgium secured silver, with bronze going to France’s Simon Delestre.
Performance Director Dan Hughes commented on the conclusion of the individual competition; “Obviously Ben and Joe gave it their best shot today but it wasn’t to be their day. Ben on his young horse did the right thing to save it for another day and Joe has had an outstanding Championships, they just didn’t get the clear round they needed today, but that doesn’t take away from what Ben, Michael, Jessica and Joe have achieved this week. We came here to gain Olympic qualification which we’ve achieved and in the process, very nearly won a medal as well.”
Equestrian Team GBR is supported by the World Class Programme; the Programme is indebted to the support received from UK Sport and the National Lottery. The British teams are also very grateful to the support they receive from official Team GBR suppliers Dodson & Horrell, Equiline, Equi-Trek, Land Rover, NAF, NuuMed, Point Two Equine, Tagg Equestrian and Toggi.
Full results from the Championships can be found at: http://results.aachen2015.de/show/7/schedule/