Herning, Denmark. – Aug. 13, 2022 – Team Sweden, under the direction of Chef d’Equipe Hank Ankarcrona, have another triumph to add to their Olympic Team gold medal, after winning first place in the Agria FEI World Jumping Championship at Herning on Friday.
Ending the night with just 7.69 penalty points, Team Sweden led the Jumping competition from Day 1 and cemented their first-time World Championship victory with clear rounds by world number 1-ranked Henrik von Eckermann aboard the amazing King Edward and Jens Fredricson and Markan Cosmopolit. Stellar performances this week by Malin Baryard Johnsson with H&M Indiana and Peder Fredricson with H&M All In sealed the deal for the ecstatic foursome.
In a dramatic battle right to the very end, the silver medal was awarded to the team from the Netherlands, with Great Britain taking the bronze. Ireland ended their campaign in Denmark in fourth place and Team Germany finished fifth, meaning they are among the top five finishers who have now qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Early on, it became apparent that the triple combination before the finish was going to be problematic, especially coming after a number of difficult oxers and three days of challenging jumping.
The evening’s excitement began with 23 riders competing as individuals, followed by 39 Team horse-and-rider duos – 10 teams whittled down from 103 starts and 22 teams at the start of the competition.
With World Championship medals, prize money, and Olympic qualifications on offer, the battle was a fierce one from the get-go. Sweden were keen to hold onto their first-place standings, with France and Germany on their heels and defending champions the United States out of the running this year.
It was a night of glory and of heartbreak, as time after time, the course either rewarded or confounded riders. The start list was ten deep before the audience saw a clear ride from Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca and F One Usa, although he picked up two time penalties as an Individual rider with the tricky 83-second time limit.
The leaderboard turned into a carousel of changes once the teams started their rotations. Henrik von Eckermann kicked things up a notch with his perfect and speedy turn around the ring on King Edward, crossing the Longines beam in a mere 79.80 seconds. With the crowd on their feet for the man in the white armband, the pressure was on as each nation presented another rider in hopes of a top prize.
Once Jens Fredricson replicated his teammate’s textbook round with Markan Cosmopolit, Sweden were guaranteed the gold, and it became a new fight for the silver and bronze medals.
Many riders who had led earlier in the week and looked to be on lock for Individual or Team honors found themselves caught out by Konickx’s course, including greats like Steve Guerdat of Switzerland, Scott Brash of Great Britain, Gregory Wathelet of Belgium, Tiffany Foster of Canada, Kevin Staut of France, and his compatriot Julien Epaillard, who had been in the lead individually.
Yet, there were a few moments of incredible riding that helped sort out the podium positions in the end. A clear from Great Britain’s Harry Charles (Romeo 88), just 23 years old and riding well beyond his years, gave his team, under the direction of Chef d’Equipe Di Lampard, a boost right when they needed one, with two 4s on the board from Ben Maher and Joseph Stockdale.
Likewise, only 2 time faults for Jur Vrieling helped push the Netherlands into silver medal contention, with 4s from Sanne Thijssen and Maikel van der Vleuten. The Dutch team, led by Chef d’Equipe Jos Lansink needed a clear to pave the way to the podium.
They got it from former world number one, Harrie Smolders, a veteran rider with numerous medals under his belt to attest to his skill and coolness under pressure. With no points to add, the Dutch were guaranteed a medal, and it turned out to be a silver once Germany’s Christain Ahlmann picked up four faults and Kevin Staut added 12 to his score.
On his pathfinding round for the Swedish team, “It was such a relief to make the clear round!” exclaimed Von Eckermann.
Baryard-Johnsson praised the audience, adding, “It’s just unbelievable and with this crowd!”
Jens Fredricson also thanked the fans for being “an amazing audience” that helped his team win. Of competing with his brother, Peder Fredericson said, “It’s our first championship together. I think we’re going to do a few more.”
Sweden’s Chef d’Equipe Henrik Ankarcrona was asked what made his team so special. “How long do you have?” he laughed. “They’re four fantastic riders, so professional, so tight together. It’s a privilege to work with these guys, and we have the best audience!”
When all the points were tallied, Team France finished in sixth place, followed by Belgium, Switzerland, Brazil, and Canada.
The top 25 Individual riders return on Sunday, where a first round of jumping will advance the best 12 to a final round to see who wins the Individual medals.
Henrik von Eckermann is now in the lead on 0.58 points, with his penalties converted to points for rankings. Jens Fredricson is in second place, with Belgium’s Jérôme Guery and Quel Homme de Hus in third.
Photos: © FEI / Richard Juilliart