It was a fairytale ending for the host country Sweden as Peder Fredricson and H&M All In lifted the individual gold medal in front of an audience of 15,000. The pair – silver medallists in Rio 2016 – had led from the outset and despite enormous pressure as last to go they finished ahead of Harrie Smolders in silver and Cian O’Connor in bronze.
"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,” said Peder.
The Netherlands’ Harrie had rocketed from ninth to silver with the British-produced Diamant De Semilly/Voltaire 13-year-old stallion Don VHP Z – winner of the 2011 HOYS grade C and fourth in the 2012 Hickstead King George V gold cup under Brendon Stud ownership with Louise Simpson (nee Pavitt) in the saddle.
“At the final day Don VHP Z shows again to the whole world his shape, talent and power. He was the only horse who jumped two fantastic clear rounds! Very proud and happy with this outstanding performance,” said Harrie.
“After the first day I was in almost an impossible position for a medal but I knew from other championships that with five or six points you are often on the podium and I also knew that my horse gets only better when it’s bigger. He had a really good feeling also on the first day so I knew he could do it. He has blood but he is a little slow in his movement and he’s very, very scopey. He has jumped so many clear rounds all over the world and in different circumstances, so I had a good feeling before this championship.” The anchor rider who secured Ireland’s team gold, Cian was Peder’s main threat over the final, 10-fence track, but a single mistake by Good Luck allowed Harrie to edge ahead. Peder held a fence in hand advantage, but when the middle element of the treble fell, there was an audible gasp of horror. But Peder kept his cool to leave the rest of the fences intact and just added a single time fault. It was good enough for gold.
Asked if last summer’s silver medal success helped him in any way today, Peder 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!” he said.
Ireland took another win in Gothenburg as British-based Irishman Richard Howley topped the under 25 1.50m with Chinook in an eight-strong decider. The Tyo/Wellington 10-year-old flourished under Richard’s guidance to take victory by 0.11 sec.
"I'm very glad to be here. The Aitkenhead family bought Chinook for me two years ago and I've done pretty much everything with him. He was a former eventer and it took time to change but he's an extraordinary horse," said Richard.
Jess Dimmock and the Carolus H/Burggraaf 11-year-old Cassius Clay jumped the steadiest of the double clears for seventh.
“I had an amazing week and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a fantastic show and riding one amazing little horse,” said Jess.
Photos © Jumping Around & courtesy FEI