The stallion depot Ksiaz in Poland hosted the third FEI European Youth Driving Championships which took place over the weekend. A record number of 62 drivers from 10 nations competed in six categories. The new European champions are Lisa-Maria Tischer (GER) in the children’s category; Marie Theres Höllmüller (AUT) juniors singles; Valentine Lenormand (FRA) juniors pairs; Emma Gustavsson (SWE) young drivers single ponies; Marcin Kilanczyk (POL) young drivers single horses; and Zsófia Kovács (HUN), young drivers pony pairs. Germany won the nations competition.
The 13-year-old Lisa-Marie Tischer, daughter of former international four-in-hand driver and current trainer of the German pony turnouts Peter Tischer, finished second in the dressage and fifth in the marathon, which put her in silver medal position before the cones. She drove a double clear round in the final competition with her six-year-old pony Kansas 23 and won gold. It was Tischer’s second European championships; she had finished seventh individually and won team silver in 2013.
Zsófia Szaller (HUN) was in bronze medal position after placing fourth after dressage and finishing eighth in the marathon. Thanks to a double clear round in the cones, she moved up to silver in the final standings.
Local hero Weronika Bogacz lost her gold medal after an unfortunate knock down in the cones and dropped to bronze. The differences between the top drivers after dressage and marathon were all within one ball. A total of 14 children started in this class.
Some 24 competitors took part in the juniors class open to drivers aged between 14 and 18. Marie Theres Hollmüller was the only participant who had to drive dressage in the pouring rain, but the 15-year-old talented athlete was unfazed and finished second in this first part of the championship. She took over the lead after a good marathon performance, which she was able to maintain thanks to a clear round in the cones, which she won as well. It was her third European championship start with the 14-year-old Campari 9, but it was her first participation in the juniors category given that her 15th birthday is in December.
Pia-Chantal Nolte (GER) won the silver medal thanks to her third place in the dressage and a good marathon. She finished less than one penalty point ahead of Tara Wilkinson (GBR) who caught up amazingly after placing 11th in the dressage by winning the marathon and scoring a single knockdown in the cones.
Linnea Kristiansen (SWE) was less fortunate as she had three balls down and dropped from the second to the sixth place in the final standings. For the first time, a pony pairs class was added to the European championships. Only starter and therefore gold medal winner was the French driver Valentine Lenormand.
Three sets of medals were up for grabs in the young drivers class. Emma Gustavsson won the pony singles class. She made continuous progress in each phase of the competition. She was third after dressage, second after the marathon and her victory in the cones brought her the gold medal. Her pony Windy Boy Rocket, who used to compete internationally with world championship driver Susanne Ankermark, is 21-years-old, the same age as Gustavsson.
Silver went to Timo Eitzmann (GER), one knockdown in the cones costing the dressage winner the gold medal. Great Britain’s individual driver Michael Hodgson put on solid performances and took home a surprising bronze.
Zsófia Kovács (19) from Hungary was the only pair driver and therefore the winner of the gold in her class.
The single horse class resulted in a very tight battle. Marcin Kilanczyk (POL) won gold only 0.09 points ahead of Germany’s Katharina Weber, who was in the lead after dressage and the marathon. Both drivers remained clear in the cones, but Weber had a few more time penalties, which dropped her to silver.
The 20-year-old Polish gold medallist drove the six-year-old Polish bred Prymus. Jovanca Marie Kessler (GER) won bronze thanks to her solid performances throughout the event.
Germany took the lead in the team standings after dressage and never looked back. The German team won with 13 penalty points ahead of Hungary and host nation Poland.
The event took place under ideal weather conditions for horses and athletes. In the marathon, the children drove though four obstacles with four gates. The juniors and the young drivers had to make their way through six obstacles with five gates, designed by Polish O-course designer and the event’s main organiser Marek Zaleski. The addition of a class for single horses to the European championships for young drivers allowed competitors, who do not have a pony, to compete against athletes their own age.
The spectators, officials and organisers enjoyed four days of first class driving sport.
1. Lisa Maria Tischer (GER) 76.51
2. Zsófia Szaller (HUN) 77.74
3. Weronika Bogacz (POL) 78.63
Juniors (single pony)
1. Marie Theres Hollmüller (AUT) 89.93
2. Pia-Chantal Nolte (GER) 94.89
3. Tara Wilkinson (GBR) 95.15
Juniors (pony pair)
1. Valentine Lenormand (FRA) 119.90
Young Drivers (single pony)
1. Emma Gustavsson (SWE) 93.39
2. Timo Eitzmann (GER) 95.58
3. Michael Hodgson (GBR) 96.60
Young Drivers (single horse)
1. Marcin Kilanczyk (POL) 89.94
2. Katharina Weber (GER) 89.95
3. Jovanca Marie Kessler (GER) 94.81
Young Drivers (pony pair)
1. Zsófia Kovács (HUN) 119.02