“You can’t win them all if you don’t win the first one” is a common refrain in show jumping. And one that Swedish show jumping team appears to be taking to heart.

In Championships.

The Nordic titans are the current Olympic champions and World champions. (Teammate and world no. 1 Henrik von Eckermann is also the World Cup Final champion.) Now they’re looking to complete the team medal set with a regional title at this week’s European Championship in Milano, Italy.

Sweden’s Jens Fredricson, a member of their gold medal winning team in Herning, took the early lead on day one of the Final, jumping to the top of the leaderboard in the opening 1.50m faults-converted speed round aboard Markan Cosmopolit. He was the only rider to jump clear under the 72 second mark (71.98 seconds).

No one was more impressed with the round than Jens father, Ingvar Fredricson. “He told me he’d watched me on TV today and that this was the best round I have ever ridden. He’s been watching me for 42 years, so that’s a bit special!”

His closest runner up: the ever speedy Martin Fuchs (SUI) on Leone Jei, who stopped the clock nearly half a second slower in 72.53. Just three tenths of a second separated 2nd and fourth.

Fredricson wasn’t the sole Swede on the leaderboard. All four team riders—Wilma Hellstrom, Rolf-Goran Begtsson, Fredricson and von Eckermann—finished in the top 12.

Sweden now leads the individual and team standings on zero and 1.51 penalties, respectively.

“We have a lot of experience now in championships and we have learned a lot over the years,” said Fredricson.

“I don’t think anyone on the team is surprised, we had a very good feeling but we know this is just the start. These Championships are a bit like a slalom, and today was only the first downhill run!”

Related aside: If you’ve ever wondered how they calculate the penalties, you’re not alone. The formula is time divided by two and rounded to the nearest hundredth minus the leading penalty. So Fredicson’s time converts to 71.98 / 2 = 35.99 – 35.99 = 0 penalties. For first runner up Martin Fuchs, it’s 72.53 / 2 = 36.265, rounded to 36.27 – 35.99 = 0.28. And so on. Here’s a helpful graph from Longines Timing:

You don’t have to do the math to see that winning is an advantage, but only a slight one at this early stage. A single time penalty separates one through nine on the individual leaderboard once the times are converted to penalties. A single rail separates first through 34th.

The full individual leaderboard is here.

On the team standings, Switzerland (Bryan Balsiger, Edouard Schmitz, Martin Fuchs, Steve Guerdat) is hot on Sweden’s heels on 1.92 penalties. Germany (Gerrit Neiberg, Jana Wargers, Philipp Weishaupt, Marcus Ehning) sit in third on 5.31.

That leaderboard is here.

As for Fredricson, the stats suggest his week has the potential to continue on a winning trajectory.

Of the 55-year-old rider’s 36 podium finishes since 2015, 15 have come with Markan Cosmopolit and so has most of his prize money. According to Jumpr App, the 12-year-old gelding has earned €597,114 of his total €699,172 earnings in that time frame.

What’s more, their clear round Jumpr App stats only go up as the height of the fences do. In 2023, they’re jumping clear and into the top 10 60% of the time at the 1.50m height. At 1.60m, their clear round average jumps to 67%. And at 1.65m, the height they jumped at the World Championship in Herning last year, it’s 100%.

Which is to say, they’re consistent contenders and a proven championship pair—precisely the two things you want on your team.

The second leg of team and individual competition at the European Champioships takes place Thursday, August 31 at 7:15 am ET and streams on FEI TV.