The semi-finals of the European Equestrian Federation’s Nations Cup series took place in Budapest and the top three teams could qualify directly for the Warsaw final in two months.
Ten countries from the region could expose a team, each consisting of 4 riders, or in one case only 3 riders, where at least one rider had to be under the age of 25. The young generation of the Hungarian team was represented by Vince Jármy, who also competed successfully at the Youth Olympics, alongside Zoltán Czékus, András Kövy, Jnr. and Gyula Szuhai.
The parkour was composed of 12 jumps, which everyone had to complete twice. The compulsory elements were the water jump, a double and a triple combination, a wall, and two 160cm verticals. The competition was made even more difficult by the fact that special 18-millimetre jump cups had to be used, which fall at the slightest touch.
The spectators witnessed a high number of refusals, even by riders who were not expected to make any faults. Some pairs completed the first round without penalties, but were eventually disqualified in the second round.
István Németh, the Hungarian chef d’équipe, started Zoltán Czékus, leader of the national ranking, first, who excelled in his previous competitions on his home-bred horse Disco. However, his horse refused the first attempt on the wall, which cost the Hungarian team 8 penalty points despite a clear round over the jumps. The second rider of the Hungarian team was Vince Jármy on the homebred JB Koronaőr and he incurred 4 penalty points for stepping in the water. The next two riders, András Kövy, Jnr. on Faquitol and Gyula Szuhai on the only 8-year-old Lawisangos, scored impressive clear rides. As the worst score from each round is dropped, the Hungarian team entered the second round in third place with four penalties, head to head with Switzerland and Austria. Germany and Italy both committed no penalties; the Czech Republic had 8, Greece 12, Turkey 16, Bulgaria 22 and Romania 39 penalties.
Before the second round, international course designer Werner Deeg decided to raise the height of the jumps, which affected the performance of the field. The Romanian team immediately started with two disqualifications, but not only the refusals but also the faults multiplied as the horses started the second round more tired in such hot weather. There were a particularly high number of faults on the final vertical jump, the fifteenth effort, and the final one of a difficult line.
Despite of the higher requirements, Zoltán Czékus managed to improve and closed the second round with only one penalty point on Disco, giving hope for an even better overall place for the Hungarian team. However, Vince Jármy‘s horse JB Koronaőr jumped better than in the first round, but hit a barrier, while András Kövy, Jnr‘s horse, Faquitol S, stepped into the water, adding 4 penalties each. The final rider, Gyula Szuhai had a chance to improve the team’s position with another clear round, but his horse Lawisangos failed to give his all, making several faults due to his young age and thus a lack of routine. So Team Hungary finished sixth with thirteen penalties, one point behind the fourth-placed Austrians and the fifth-placed Czechs.
The battle for victory made for great excitement with the favourite Italian team experiencing a disqualification, so the onus was on the last rider from Germany to ride a clear round in order to avoid the jump-off. At just 22 years of age, Philipp Schulze Topphoff withstood the pressure and confidently completed the course perfectly on Concordes, securing the top step of the podium for his team consisting of Sophie Hinners, Jana Wargers and Cedric Wolf. The Italians could only ride for second place, which they managed to hold on to, with Francesco Turturiello, Ludovica Minoli, Francesca Arioldi and Antonio Alfonso taking the silver medal. In excellent form, the Swiss team of Elin Ott, Edouard Schmitz, Aurelia Loser and Romain Duguet, led by Thomas Fuchs, would now settle for third place.
Live coverage of the competitions can be viewed on the following websites:
- The CSIO Budapest website, under menu item ‘live stream’ »
- The CSIO Budapest Facebook page »
- The Riderline website, under menu item ‘live stream’ »
- The Riderline Facebook page »
- ClipMyHorse »
Photo: CSIO Budapest / Krisztina Hajdu