Swedish Peder Fredricson was the last rider to compete in the final round of the EC in Gothenburg. He and his Olympic horse H&M All In by Kashmir van Schuttershof-Andiamo were in the comfortable position to be able to afford one fence down and a time penalty point. Cian O’Connor made it possible because he already had down the fifth fence with BWP stallion Good Luck by Canturo-Furioso II. At that point it was clear that Cian O’Connor would in the worst case win bronze in the individual rating and Dutch Harrie Smolders silver with Zangersheide Hengst Don VHP Z by Diamant de Semilly-Voltaire. The Dutch rider was the only one to have two clear rounds today.
For Peder Fredericson the starting situation was good. The audience cheered him on and when the first fence of the triple combination fell the pressure was more intense than ever. Another mistake and he would not even be among the top three any more. But he didn’t make another mistake and so Gothenburg jubilated.
“The pressure was there as soon as I arrived,” the new European Champion said, only the second Swedish one after Rolf-Göran Bengtsson in Madrid in 2011. “Everyone who met me this week wished me luck and that I should win. And I really wanted it for this horse. I always thought: “Don’t make a dumb mistake”. When the bar fell I tried not to make another mistake. Fredericson who has worked with a mental coach for some time now explained: “You don’t enjoy the pressure but you can learn to bear it. You have to stay focused and don’t think about other things.” To the question what this gold medal means to him after having won Olympic silver Fredericson said: “In Rio I was annoyed that I wasn’t fast enough in the jump-off. Silver was great but I was a bit annoyed and therefore worked on getting faster. Yes, I’m definitively happier with the colour of this medal.”
Harrie Smolders was also content with his silver medal, especially after the start he had. He came from the timed competition with 4,52 points. Then he only added one time penalty point in the first of the two team rounds. “After day one I thought it would be impossible to win a medal. But Don gets better the harder the competitions get. The smallest competition was the hardest one for him.”
Bronze medal winner Cian O’Connor said that his individual medal just came “on top”. “For 16 years we haven’t won team gold – that was something special. My gratulations to course designer Louis Konickx who was able to bring the best horses on the podium. My horse was placed in every Grand Prix this season, Harrie’s horse has as many clear rounds as no other horse this season and All In is the best horse in the world.”
And what about the German riders? Marcus Ehning and 14-year-old Selle Francais Pret A Tout by Hiram Chambertin- Stew Boy was able to do another clear round and finished in sixth place, Philipp Weishaupt and Holsteiner stallion LB Convall by Colman-Cascavelle refused at the second fence and made mistakes at fences 6 and 8 as well as four time penalty points – he finished in twelfth place. Ehning said: “With one mistake less I could have won bronze. But Pret A Tout presented himself well and it was a good finish. Of course it is annoying if you’re so close and both mistakes should not have happened. But now I know he’s a championship horse and until the WEG we have enough time to improve.”
Weishaupt explained his bad last round: “Convall has a special character which he showed at the wrong point in time. He looked to the exit and then the rhythm was lost. But even if I would have stayed clear I only would have been placed fourth. Life moves on.”
Coach Otto Becker said: “Unfortunately we don’t have a medal but we have seen good rounds and will be able to rely on new pairs in the future. I would nominate the same team again. The goal was to develop new pairs and we have three new pairs for the future.”