Haras du Pin (KNHS) – TeamNL’s eventing riders may go to Paris! At the FEI European Eventing Championships, Andrew Heffernan, Janneke Boonzaaijer and Sanne de Jong clinched the coveted Olympic ticket.
The best two teams not yet placed at the European Championships earned a team ticket OS Paris. Those best two teams ended up being Belgium (7th) and the Netherlands (8th)!
But what preceded all that at the EC?
Janneke was satisfied with her dressage with ACSI Champ de Tailleur (-32.5 and a 27th place). After that the cross country followed. Even on Friday night, it had still rained tremendously and there were concerns about the wet ground. The organisers decided on Saturday morning to remove five obstacles from the cross and start at 2pm instead of 12pm. “An excellent decision,” said Janneke, “Even the English who eventually became European champions had already objected to the ground! It really felt like a sponge in places.”
In the cross itself, Janneke stuck to her serious build-up with extra hill training she had done. “I knew the cross was tough, but it was even tougher than I thought!”, she says, “I told myself very well while riding: “Champ will recover again when we gallop down the hill’. And he did. He tackled everything incredibly, kept attacking, appraised well and stayed with me! I only took the alternative once, on 20 a,b. That was an open house with a point at 3 canter jumps, but Champ was already going off and then I couldn’t get straight on the line and I did have to choose the alternative. In hindsight I was a bit disappointed with the extra time, but a refusal or wrong valuation would have been worse. Champ picked up so incredibly, I’m super proud of him!”
On Sunday, the three remaining team horses were found fit for the final jumping.
After a clear round by Sanne de Jong with Enjoy and 4 penalty points by Andrew Heffernan with Gideon, it was the turn of Janneke Boonzaaijer and ACSI Champ de Tailleur. “ACSI Champ de Tailleur really pulled it off again. He just enjoyed going to the ring with the showjumping course and doing his job!” said Janneke enthusiastically. The joy in the Kiss & Cry area was great when Janneke was the last Dutch starter to cross the finish line clear with only minute time overrun. “Yes, there were tears of joy!”, said Janneke.
Janneke Boonzaaijer eindigde uiteindelijk met ACSI Champ de Tailleur als beste Nederlandse combinatie op de 17e plaats (van de 56), Andrew Heffernan werd 30e en Sanne de Jong 33e. Een aantal van 18 combinaties werd uitgesloten in de zware cross, waaronder ook de winnaar van de dressuur Michael Jung met Fischerchipmunk FRH na een val op sprong 24, de insprong in het laatste water.
Er was maar één combinatie die de cross geheel foutloos reed zonder tijdfouten: de uiteindelijke Europese kampioene Rosalind Canter met Lordships Graffalo.
© Hippo Foto Media – Sharon Vandeput
Janneke Boonzaaijer eventually finished with ACSI Champ de Tailleur as the best Dutch combination in 17th place (out of 56), Andrew Heffernan came 30th and Sanne de Jong 33rd. A total of 18 combinations were ruled out in the tough cross, including dressage winner Michael Jung with Fischerchipmunk FRH after falling on jump 24, the inlet in the last water.
There was only one combination who rode the cross completely clear with no time faults: ultimate European champion Rosalind Canter with Lordships Graffalo
National coach Andrew Heffernan was emotional after the match. “I can’t believe my happiness. It was a tough championship and there were some concerns beforehand about the heaviness of the cross. But everyone suffered from that. In the end, we performed better than our competitors, we got the ticket to Paris. I am proud of all the riders, also because of the way we formed a team. They also supported me tremendously as a rider. To ride here myself was not an easy decision! I am grateful to the riders for that. We achieved our goal!”
Heffernan will now quickly turn his focus to 2024. “I think the European Championships proved that we have riders and horses who can compete. I have confidence in my riders. Moreover, we also learned a lot from this championship again, such as riding in difficult conditions and dealing with the pressure, because there was definitely pressure today! That Janneke Boonzaaijer and Sanne de Jong then jump clear is really clever.”
Dutch teams to Paris in all disciplines
So with the eventing placement, the Netherlands may now go to the OS in Paris with four teams. The dressage riders, show jumping riders and para-dressage riders had already qualified for participation at the World Championships in Herning last year.
Result teams – nations