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The first horse inspection at the Longines FEI European Eventing Championship at Blair Castle in Scotland was a chilly affair, with none of the promised sunshine Scots had been assuring us was forecast. Because riders tend to wear matching (or almost matching!) squad ‘uniforms’, the trot up at the Europeans isn’t the fashion show we’re used to at international events. The Ground Jury, however, were resplendent in matching tartan!
The riders trotted up in their squads, with the Netherlands first to go. The Dutch riders were smart in matching navy suits with brown elbow patches, though the orange ties on the men were somewhat garish! All six horses were accepted on first presentation.
We then moved on to the Danish squad, who had two horses running as individuals, both of whom were accepted. The Polish rider, Jacek Jeruzal, who should have trotted next, hadn’t made it to the site and so was allowed to present out of order. His horse Flandia 2, a pretty 9 year old bay mare, was accepted.
All six of the Irish horses were accepted on first presentation, as was the sole Austrian entry, all six Italians and the two horses from Finland.
Next came the twelve horses and riders from Great Britain. A last minute substitution just hours before the first horse inspection saw Sarah Bullimore called up with Lilly Corinne to replace Dani Evans, whose ride Smart Time was withdrawn after blood work came back showing the horse was slightly under the weather. They now plan to re-route to Boekelo.
Though this is a crushing disappointment for the whole team, especially the owner Luana Edge, this combination remains a force to be reckoned with, and we expect to see them again on a senior squad in the future. All twelve horses were accepted on first presentation, and the team was named as William Fox Pitt riding Bay My Hero; Pippa Funnell with Sandman 7; Kitty King riding Persimmon and Nicola Wilson with One Two Many.
Switzerland and Germany had all their horses accepted without comment, which meant we moved on to Russia, and the first horse to be sent to the hold box. Indigo Pyreneen looked somewhat stiff, and his rider Igor Atrokhov was asked to represent him. Some confusion arose at the reinspection, when another Russian rider tried to present the horse, and was told that was not allowed. After a second look, the Ground Jury of Sue Baxter, Andrew Bennie and Sándor Fulop spun this 15 year old bay stallion.
Next up were the team who for my money had the best dressed prize in the bag – France. With great style, including such attention to detail as flags on the back of the neck of their shirts, six horses were presented and passed.
Perennial crowd favourite Ludvig Svennerstal for Sweden drew a few gasps when his ride Franzipan was sent to the hold box, though she was later passed on reinspection. The rest of the Swedish horses were accepted first time through.
Three of five horses representing Spain had been accepted when Maria Pinedo Sendagorta was sent to the hold box with Carriem van Colen Z. Their fifth horse went through on first presentation, and Carriem was then accepted on representation.
Finally, the Belgian team of four horses were all accepted.
In total, 71 horses were presented, 3 were held for reinspection and of those, 1 was spun. Tomorrow the dressage starts at 10am with the guinea pig rider. The best dressed prize presented by Pol Roger saw Emiliano Portale for Italy and Louise Svensson Jähde for Sweden each take home a magnum of champagne.