On Friday 13th July, Great Britain’s Junior Showjumping Team, who ride under the title sponsorship of Team NAF, won Silver at the Junior European Championships in Fontainebleau, France. This brought to a close a terrific three days of jumping for the riders aged between 15 – 17 years in what proved to be an incredibly hard medal winning competition.
Leading at the end of the first round of the team competition which took place on Thursday, the Junior team were exceptional across what proved to be a stiff course which saw only ten clears achieved across the twenty-one teams contesting the competition.
Coming forward into the second and final day of the teams, the four riders carried just 10.29 penalties forward. This included the co-efficient score of 5.29 accrued during the first day, a speed round which also counts towards each of the riders individual scores as do both rounds of the teams.
Robert Murphy, aged 17, from Preston, Lancashire with Newbridges Chablis SW, an 11-year-old chestnut gelding owned by Stacey Webb who had jumped clear on the first day and picked up just one time penalty on the second took the role of pathfinder for the teamIn Friday’s competition, a miss at the water saw them put seconds on the clock due to having to return back to it and finish on an eventual 11 penalties due to also lowering a pole mid-course. A terrible run of bad fortune for Robert who had delivered two solid performances beforehand.
Sienna Charles, aged 15, from Alton, Hampshire with Chaitanya 2, an 11-year-old grey mare owned by Peter Charles MBE posted a clear on Thursday making it the second clear round of the competition for her. Friday’s round didn’t fare as well for her with eight penalties being awarded as a result of two down half way round.
Oliver Fletcher, aged 15, from Faringdon, Oxfordshire with Hello Disckoboy D.N., a 10-year-old grey gelding owned by Lady Kirkham and Lady Harris picked up four penalties on Thursday following on from his first round clear. Friday’s competition couldn’t have gone better for Oliver who produced a faultless foot-perfect round to return home on a much needed penalty free score within the time allowed. With all three riders having been, Great Britain were now in the Silver medal position with everything now open and reliant on each of the final team riders that were in podium winning contention.
Jack Whitaker, aged 16, from Whatton, Nottinghamshire with Arlo De Blondel, an eight-year-old chestnut stallion owned by Michael Whitaker finished the day on Thursday with an uncharacteristic nine penalties and a fence down on the first day which added four seconds to their finish time. As anchor rider for the team the pressure on his shoulders was immense as his round would make or break GB’s hopes of securing a medal. Riding under pressure is certainly not something that Jack balks at and coming home with just the four penalties, having tapped the top bar off the related distance vertical after the double, it meant that he had done enough to secure their place on the podium to finish in Silver position and give the Brits their much deserved medal.
With only ten teams eligible to come forward for the second day of the teams, all riders outside of these jumped earlier this morning. For Great Britain it was James Winter from Chepstow who competed in this section, joining his team mates on the podium. Riding Elizabeth Winter’s 11-year-old chestnut gelding Cosmo Boy, they posted a clear in the opening speed leg followed by just four penalties across both rounds two and three.
Going forward the top thirty Junior riders will be invited to contest the Individual Final on Sunday when the Individual Medals will be awarded. For Great Britain, Oliver Fletcher currently sits in third whilst Sienna Charles is in 12th, James Winter is in 14th and Robert Murphy is in 27th.
Youth Team Manager Clare Whitaker, accompanying Chef d’Equipe Tony Newbery, commented: “It was really down to the wire, especially as we were the last to jump, and we couldn’t be prouder of the team. They are young team, they kept their cool and they’ve ridden under great pressure. They have all ridden exceptionally well and they thoroughly deserve their medal winning position.”
For further information on the show and full results https://fontainebleau2018.com