EEF Press Release


Five-time gold for Greece, but Romania takes both Senior titles at EEF Balkan Jumping Championships in Zagreb

by Louise Parkes

Greece captured half of all the gold on offer with taking both the Junior and Amazon team and individual titles at the EEF Balkan Jumping Championships 2018 staged in Zagreb, Croatia from 30 August to 2 September. However Romanian athletes were dominant at Senior level, and when Octavia Ilisoi claimed the top step of the individual Children’s podium then their tally of three victories left their country close behind on the medal table at this 50th anniversary fixture. 


Romania’s Ionel Bucur (54) won the opening Speed class for Seniors and never looked back. Scorching around the track in 80.18 seconds he finished almost five seconds quicker than fellow-countryman Andrea Herck (27) in runner-up spot. And when yet another of the Romanian contingent, Aron Jakab (32), galloped into fourth behind Kriton Zafiropoulos from Greece then it was clear they were a force to be reckoned with.

And so it proved as they stormed to victory in the Team competition, all three posting zero scores while fourth-line rider Ionut Ursache (32) collected five faults for the discard score. Slovenia took silver with a modest tally of five faults over the two rounds but the bronze medallists from Greece racked up a total of 25.

It was Jakab who won Sunday’s Grand Prix with a brilliant double-clear from his 11-year-old mare, Zumba. But with results calculated into points, Bucur’s single time fault in the main round was still good enough to take individual gold with the 13-year-old Cassius S who he steered to double-victory at the 2016 Balkan Championships. 

Jakab claimed individual silver and bronze went to Slovenia’s Iza Vele (26) who produced the only other double-clear of the day in the final Grand Prix partnering the nine-year-old Irish-bred Western Boy.


The Greek girls had it all their own way in the Amazons Championship with a convincing win to take the team title and then claiming all three steps of the individual medal podium. Bulgaria’s Desislava Koseva (Coupe de l’Amour) won the First Individual qualifier in which Karolina Vogdanou (Antrax) and Katerina Doubodel (Fleur VL) lined up second and third for Greece. But the Bulgarian side was eliminated in the team event in which the Greeks reigned supreme ahead of Slovenia in silver and Romania in bronze. Turkey and Croatia missed the podium when slotting into fourth and fifth places.

Doubodel (32) carried four faults from the first round of the team competition into Sunday’s individual medal decider and finished on that score to be crowned champion. Again there were only two double-clears on the final day, and when her eight-year-old Dutch-bred mare produced one of them along with the fastest time she clinched it ahead of talented 18-year-old team-mate Vasiliki-Maria Zachariou who had also been foot-perfect in the team competition with her nine-year-old gelding D'Artagnan but who faulted twice on the final day to take the silver. 

Rounding up the Greek stranglehold was Danae-Eleftheria Besdemioti-Avramidou (21) and her 10-year-old Campino 485 in bronze.

Young Riders  

Greece also claimed the Young Riders title but it was a mighty battle between the champion, 19-year-old Leonidas Palegdas, and silver medallist Patricia Kardun (21) from Croatia who were separated by the narrowest of margins.  

Palegdas and her 10-year-old mare Calista de la Hart finished third on the opening day behind Kardun and Stanley Boy in runner-up spot, while Slovenia’s Nina Pangersic won through riding Chamberlain. But Palegdas turned the tables in the Grand Prix, finishing second behind Slovenia’s Neja Bevc while this time Kardun had to settle for third with a fence down in the first round.

That ensured that Palegdas, formerly a Children’s team gold medallist at the Balkan Championships on home ground in Markopoulo in Athens in 2012, would take the Young Riders crown on a final scoreline of 8.56, just .04 ahead of Kardun, while 18-year-old Dana Maria Panaite (Casparow 4) from Romania clinched the bronze on her final tally of 13.22.


Four super-experienced young Greeks secured a sensational win in the Junior team championship when producing eight clear jumping rounds between them. Selini Popp (17) was already a five-time Balkan Championship veteran with two European Championships under her belt, Paola Martini (17) previously competed in nine Championships and had racked up three individual Balkan titles, Antonios Antoniou (16) was a double Balkan champion at Junior level and Anna-Sophia Danalis (17) was simply keeping up the incredible record that has seen her clinch Balkan double-gold in 2015 and the individual title for the last two years.

Josipa Koletic (Chatinue), Ana Kanjir (Ruma), Dunja Al Jamal (Gemilio LCS) and Josip Gugic (Gambertin VD Mispelaere) joined forces to provide the host nation of Croatia with team silver while Romania took team bronze.

And it was high drama in the individual Junior final which came down to a two-way jump-off between Greek girls Martini and Danalis, as the defending champion was eliminated for jumping a wrong fence as they raced against the clock and had to cede the crown to her team-mate. Rounding up the total domination by Greece, Selini Popp took the bronze when finishing on the four faults she had collected in the first competition and Antoniou finished fourth and just off the podium when completing with eight faults.


The hosts had plenty to celebrate when the Croatian side clinched the Children’s team title, and they did it in style when posting a big zero on the scoreboard after the best three results from each round were taken into account. 

Kim Vukadin (13) was double-clear with Quincy de Lux, Nusa Olajos (12) had just a single fence down in the second round with Antigua Beach, Ani Carolina Kundija (14) and Rasta picked up eight first-round faults but were foot-perfect second time out and Lea Djelmic, who celebrated her 13th birthday as the event began, produced a brilliant double-clear performance with Brown Gold Lady.

And there was an exciting jump-off for silver and bronze between Romania and Greece, with Romania getting the upper hand for the second step on the podium and the Greeks this time having to settle for the bronze.

However it was the Romanian flag that flew highest of all after the individual final when Octavia Ilisoi (13) rounded up a flawless four rounds of competition with her nine-year-old grey mare, Charlotte to wear the gold medal around her neck. When four riders from four different countries finished on a four-fault tally, then the remaining medals were decided by their time in the first round of the Grand Prix so it was Annie Mayo Vatidis (14) riding C Anton H for Greece who clinched silver ahead of Croatian team gold medallist Lea Djelmic in bronze.

Nine nations

A total of 180 athletes from nine nations lined out at this year’s event which was visited by dignitaries from the Greek, Turkish and Bulgarian Embassies. 

Ground Jury member Teodor Sheytanov from Bulgaria commented on the expansion of these Championships. “The number of countries taking part is growing all the time and it was very good to see a team from Macedonia competing in the Children’s category for the first time this year. We also had participants from Albania in the non-Championship Young Horse classes, and it demonstrates the spirit of this important event which brings people from countries all across the Balkan region together.”

Photo caption: 

Happy Croatian athletes winning team silver in the Juniors category.


Balkan Jumping Senior Team Championship 2018: Gold - Romania 0 faults: Idarquithago (Andrea Herck) 0/0, Zumba (Aron Jakab) 0/0, Cassius S (Ionel Buur) 0/0, Cashmere 31 (Ionut Ursache) 4/1; Silver - Slovenia 5 faults: Western Boy (Iza Vele) 0/0, Quantums Boy (Lana Tanko) 4/1, Colmina (Robert Bombek) 0/0, Lodonkor (Tajda Bosio) 6/10; Bronze - Greece 25 faults: Concordia 38 (Aikaterini Laskaridis) 4/13, LC Waikiki Akino (Anna-Maria Papageorgiou) 8/4, Quelly Briquedalle (Grigoris Voglis) 0/1, Dicaprio (Kriton Zafiropoulos) 9/8. 

Balkan Jumping Senior Team Championship 2018: Gold - Cassius S (Ionel Bucur) ROU 1; Silver - Zumba (Aron Jakab) ROU 2.92; Bronze - Western Boy (Iza Vele) SLO 5.36.

Balkan Jumping Amazons Team Championship 2018: Gold - Greece 5 faults - Fleur VL (Katerina Doubodel) 4/0, Captain Cunterbunt (Angelika Karakasili) 1/4, D’Artagnan N (Vasiliki Maria Zachariou) 0/0, Antrax (Karolina Vogdanou) 4/0; Silver - Slovenia 26 fault - Chacco (Katja Ziberna) -/1, Abramowicz (Anja Jakelj) 1/4, Clear (Nina Zidar Klemencic) 8/8, Prophet (Aleksandra Krainer) 4/8; Bronze - Romania 45 faults - Quasar (Ioana Teodora Ninulescu) 13/1, Alabama 9Blanka Simon) 12/4, Gin-Gin (Ioana Baisanu) 11/4, Gordon Van Het (Teodora Popescu) -/-.

Balkan Jumping Amazons Individual Championship 2018: Gold - Fleur VL (Katerina Doubodel) 4 GRE; Silver - D’Artagnan N (Vasiliki Maria Zachariou) 8 GRE; Bronze - Campino (Danae-Eleftheria Besdemioti-Avramidou) GRE 10.

Balkan Jumping Junior Team Championship 2018: Gold - Greece 0 faults - Brandy Sugar SKB (Selini Popp) 0/0, Electric Elvis C (Paola Martini) 0/0, Loon Illusion (Antonios Antoniou) 0/0, Mister Chayotte Z (Anna-Sophia Danalis) 0/0; Silver - Croatia 13 faults - Chatniue (Josipa Koletic) 20/1, Ruma (Ana Kanjur) 8/14, Gemilio LCS (Dunja Al Jamal) 4/0, Gambertin VD mispelaere (Josip Gugic0 0/0; Bronze - Romania 37 faults - Gloria (Anne-Marie Bianca Bontea) 13/8, Roxane de Vimer (Andrada Bianca Roman) 8/8, Andretti (Emma Roescu) 3/1, Labrasca (Maria Alexandra Roman) 23/4.

Balkan Jumping Junior Individual Championship 2018: Gold - Elecric Elvis C (Paola Martini) GRE 0; Silver - Mister Chayottes Z (Anna-Sophia Danalis) 0; Bronze - Brandy Sugar SKB (Selini Popp) GRE 4.

Balkan Jumping Children’s Team Championship 2018: Gold - Croatia 0 faults - Quincy de Lux (Kim Vukadin) 0/0, Antigua Beach (Nusa Olajos) 0/4, Rasta (Ani Carolina Kundija) 8/0, Brown Gold Lady (Lea Djelmic) 0/0; Silver - Romania 4 faults - Qickborn 5 (Stefana Maria Ilas) 0/4, Cupido G (Sofia Semenov) 0/4, Corado Lover) Stefania Stoica-Schumann) 0/0, Charlotte (Octavia Ilisoi) 0/0; Bronze -  Greece 4 faults - C Anton H (Annie Mayo Vatidis) 0/0, Boris du Melnire 10 (Symeon Paraschakis) 8/0, Havanna van’t Steenputje (Sofia Toki) 0/4, Stamiro 2 (Athina Zolota-Giara) 0/4.

Balkan Jumping Children’s Individual Championship 2018: Gold - Charlotte (Octavia Ilisoi) ROU 0; Silver - C Anton H (Annie Mayo Vatidis) GRE 4; Bronze - Brown Gold Lady (Lea Djelmic) CRO 4.

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