British equestrianism continues to make its mark on the world stage, with a double gold and silver medal at the FEI Junior European Eventing Championships in Strzegom, Poland yesterday (9 September).
Sophie How and Pebbly Aga Khan led from the start, and following a textbook clear on the cross-country and in the show jumping ring, the pair finished on their dressage score of 35 to win individual gold.
Battling it out for second and third place were team mate Emily King – who was competing as an individual on Mr Hiho – and Ireland’s Harold Megahey on Chuckelberry. Both riders put in faultless performances over the cross-country and showjumping fences, but with Emily 0.6 penalities ahead after the dressage, the silver medal was hers and Harold took the bronze.
Great Britain also won team gold with a total score of 130.3, finishing just three points ahead of Ireland. Taking the team bronze was France with a score of 142.7.
The pressure was really on the British juniors going into the final phase as they were down to three riders, after Isabella Innes Ker was eliminated when she fell from Carolyn at fence 22 on the cross-country.
With just a 2.5 point lead, and all scores counting, clear rounds were essential to ensure team gold for Britain. Sophie and Alfie Bradstock, riding Minimee, managed to keep all the poles in their cups, but Alexandra Liddle incurred three penalities with Romeo Z.
This gave Ireland a real chance of winning gold for only the second time in the championships’ 45-year history. However, Tori Dixon had one fence down to leave them in silver position, and gave Britain its second gold of the competition. The pole also cost Tori the individual silver, as she was joint second with Emily after the cross-country, but then dropped to ninth place.
British Junior squad Chef d’Equipe Ginnie Keen commented: “It was so tight at the top going into the show jumping – things were getting extremely close and it really all came down to Sophie How at the last moment! It is a fantastic result for the team and also the riders individually, I am so proud of how they all pulled together as a squad.”