Dutchman Smolders rockets up to silver medal spot; Ireland’s O’Connor adds bronze to team gold
It was a dream come true for all of Sweden as Peder Fredricson (45) and H&M All In claimed individual Jumping gold in front of Her Royal Highness Queen Silvia and over 15,000 noisy fans at Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg (SWE) this evening to bring the Longines FEI European Championships 2017 to an emotional end.
Leading from the outset last Wednesday, the pressure was immense on the man who took individual silver with his brilliant gelding at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. But he held his nerve over two thrilling rounds that had spectators on the edges of their seats to finish just ahead of The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders (37), while Ireland’s Cian O’Connor (37) claimed the bronze.
A clear first round again today ensured that the host nation hero would be feeling the maximum weight of expectation as he brought this fabulous week of top sport to a close when last to go. But Fredricson could handle it.
“Like any athlete you are not enjoying the pressure but you just have to be comfortable with it and try to not let it get to you. Focus on what you should do and focus on your horse and your team, and try to make all the preparations right and deliver on the day and not start thinking about other things. I’m really happy I could give my horse this gold medal!” ~ Peder Fredricson SWE
Carrying just 2.25 points, O’Connor, who helped Ireland to team gold on Friday night, was his biggest threat as the last round began, while Smolders had rocketed up from ninth to lie third with 5.52 points after producing one of eight first-round clears. And over the final 10-fence course that included a massive 1.80m-wide oxer three from home, and a really testing penultimate treble, Smolders and Don VHP Z stayed clear yet again.
Second-last to go, O’Connor’s single mistake allowed the Dutchman to edge ahead of him, so Smolders was now the man that Fredricson had to beat. He had a fence in hand as he set off, but there was a gasp of horror when All In hit the middle element of the triple combination. Fredricson didn’t flinch however, adding only one further time penalty to finish on a final tally of five, just 0.52 ahead of Smolders.
““I wanted to put my stamp on this Championship. To win a medal is always hard, and I must give credit to Peder for his horsemanship, and to All In who is almost unbeatable – he’s the horse of a lifetime I think!” ~ Harrie Smolders NED
“My horse has been placed in every Grand Prix he’s jumped this year, Harrie’s horse percentage-wise jumps more clear rounds than any horse in the world if you look at the stats, and All In is probably the best horse in the world!” said O’Connor.
Asked if last summer’s silver medal success helped him in any way today, Fredricson agreed that it did. “I was a bit annoyed that I was too slow in Rio in the jump-off….It has been my main goal since Rio to be a quicker rider, and this year I’ve won more than ever before. It helped me get this gold that I was fastest on the first day and for sure I’m more happy with this colour medal than silver!”
Result: Individual Jumping Final
Gold: H&M All In (Peder Fredricson) SWE – 5.00
Silver: DON VHP Z (Harries Smolders) NED – 5.52
Bronze: Good Luck (Cian O’Connor) IRL – 6.25
Full results here.