Szilvásvárad – Hungary, August 26, 2013: The well-known Lipizzaner Stud Farm at Szilvásvárad, Hungary hosted the successful second edition of the FEI European Youth Driving Championships last weekend. No less than 43 talented young drivers from eight nations competed in the event. Anett Érsek (HUN, Children), Monika Swiecicka (POL, Juniors) and Filip Nowacki (POL, Young Drivers) were crowned the new individual European champions in their respective categories. Austria took the team gold.
Anett Érsek (14), representing the host nation, drove her 12-year old Hungarian sport pony Suti to victory in the dressage and remained in the lead throughout the event. Érsek has been driving since she was eight years old and has also competed in Eventing. Two highly experienced trainers, the Hungarian drivers Laszlo Juhasz and Jozsef Dobrovitz, helped her prepare for the championships.
Anett Érsek finished third in the marathon and could afford one knockdown after runner-up Marie Therese Höllmüller (AUT) had three balls down in the final obstacle driving competition, which saw her drop to fourth place. Érsek’s compatriot, the 11-year-old Ábel Tabajdi, won the marathon with his eight-year-old gelding Eger and, with only one knockdown in the cones, took home the silver medal. Pierre-Manuel Brasseur (12) of Belgium, son of double world four-in-hand champion Félix-Marie Brasseur drove his pony Mastwood Robin Hood, previously owned by the famous Belgian pony four-in-hand driver Mia Allo, to individual bronze. Brasseur was fifth after the dressage and marathon and moved up to bronze thanks to his double clear in the cones, the only one in his class.
Monika Swiecicka (18) became the new European champion in the juniors class, competing with her pony Erdyl Celebration, also aged 18. Swiecicka started riding at the age of six and followed in the footsteps of her mother, Malgorzata Swiecicka, a famous Polish dressage rider. The family owns a stable and Monika is trained by her father, himself a former driver.
Swiecicka made a strong start driving a successful dressage. She finished sixth in the marathon but was able to keep her leading position. After runner-up Viktoria Gössweiner (AUT) had one knockdown in the cones, all Monika had to do was drive safely since she had a 12-point advantage going into the last phase of the competition. Monika Swiecicka proved she was a true sportswoman and fought to the end driving the only double clear in her category. Gössweiner, who drove her 14-year old pony For Pleasure to fifth place in the dressage, was second after the marathon. Dávid Lehöcz (HUN), who celebrated his 15th birthday last week, was in fifth position after the dressage and marathon and moved up to bronze after German drivers Karolin Romahn and Miriam Kampmann had too many mistakes in the cones.
There was plenty of drama for 17-year-old Anika Geiger (GER), who had won the dressage in her class. She missed on the medals after knocking three balls down with her 10-year-old gelding Power Prince 4. She took fourth place in the final standings. Young Polish driver Filip Nowacki (18) was in silver medal position after his victory in the marathon and drove a clear cones course with his 11-year old pony Lalka. After Geiger’s mistakes, Novacki took individual gold which made him and his team very proud. Jacqueline Pirhofer (AUT) took silver and Jens Chladek (GER) won the individual bronze.
The Team competition was won by Austria after a close battle with Germany, who took silver. The home side was in bronze and the Belgian team finished fourth.
In this year’s championships, there were 20% more entries compared to the first edition in 2012. The young drivers demonstrated great sportsmanship and fair play throughout the competition. International O-course designer Barry Hunter (GBR) had laid out a nice marathon course with smooth but fast obstacles presenting the competitors with challenging questions. The children competed over four obstacles from A to D, the juniors over six from A to E as well as the young drivers who also competed over six obstacles from A to F. The weather was hot, but the wind made it agreeable for both the horses and the drivers. The numerous spectators enjoyed wonderful sport and the friendly atmosphere contributed to the popularity of the discipline amongst the young athletes.
Final results Children:
1. Érsek Anett (HUN) – 79.26
2.Tabajdi Ábel (HUN) – 81.68
3. Pierre-Manuel Brasseur (BEL) – 83.57
Final results Juniors:
1. Monika Swiecicka (POL) – 82.12
2. Viktoria Gösweiner (AUT) – 93.95
3. Dávid Lehőcz (HUN) – 96.95
Final results Young Drivers:
1. Filip Nowacki (POL) – 94.93
2. Jacqueline Prihofer (AUT) – 97.17
3. Jens Chladek (GER) – 99.65
Final results teams:
1. Austria 277.81
2. Germany 286.12
3. Hungary 302.24. —- By Cindy Timmer/Photo: Krisztina Horváth/FEI