Ulla Salzgeber and Rusty powered their way to an authoritative victory in the grand prix special and following day’s freestyle to gain a commanding lead, ensuring individual European championship gold.

It was the first individual gold medal for the 43-year-old German rider, who started favourite for the title after winning this year’s World Cup title.

The contest for the individual gold began in the grand prix when Ulla had to settle for second place behind team compatriot Nadine Cappellmann and the talented, but not yet totally reliable Farbenfroh.

Ulla rode a high-scoring grand prix special claiming the class with more than 78%. Farbenfroh, not as concentrated in this class lost the lead finishing the class in fourth place, but second overall and still in contention for the individual gold.

Dutch national champions Gonneilien Rothenberger-Gordijn moved fractionally ahead of Arjen Teeuwissen and Gestion Goliath ensuring a fight for the bronze.

The three British riders Richard Davison (Hiscox Askari), Laura Richardson (Millenium), the youngest team member who was competing in her first major championship and Emile Faurie (Reuters Rascher Hopes), all rode three more level performances to improve on their grand prix scores and move up to the placings finishing the class in 17th, 18th and 19th place respectively.

Richard and Hiscox Askari, making their fifth British team appearance, finished marginally “best of the brits” in 19th place overall.

The final days freestyle, before a capacity crowd of several thousand enthusiastic spectators, came alight after the bold and difficult freestyle of Spanish rider RaphaelSoto and the Andalucian stallion Invasor brought the house down, setting the standard of 77%.

After a strong display capitalising on Gestion Goliath’s powerful and rhythmic passage and piaffe, Arjen Teeuwissen raised the level scoring over 80%.

The combination of Ulla and the now 13-year-old Rusty, kept their composure throughout the now familiar routine saving their best till last. The score of 84% set Nadine a difficult target to beat.

However, an early mistake in the piaffe for Farbenfroh put paid to their chance of a gold medal and after a failed line of one-time changes her championship title remains for another year.

The final score dropped the combination to seventh place in the class, but their high scoring grand prixensured bronze. European bronze medallists in1999, Arjen and Goliath went one better to take silver.

It was the first individual medal for Nadine who has won four team gold medals for Germany. Ulla, a former young rider champion in 1977 first came to international prominence twenty years later in Aachen with the Russian bred gelding Rusty.

After her win she said, “We did not get off to a good start in the grand prix, but today was my best freestyle ever. Rusty is the best horse I have ever had and when I entered the arena today he assured me of success.”

Individual results

Grand prix special1, Rusty (U Salezgeber-GER) 8.14; 2, Jonggor’s Weyden (G Rothenberger-Gordijn-NED) 74.98; 3, Gestion Goliath (A Teeuwissen-NED) 74.84; 5, Farbenfroh (N Cappellmann-GER) 74.09; 6, FBW Kennedy (L Jorgensen-DEN) 73.07; 17, Hiscox Askari (R Davison-GBR) 66.56; 18, Millenium (L Richardson-GBR) 66.37; 19, Reuters Rascher Hopes (E Faurie-GBR) 66.09.

Grand prix freestyle 1, Rusty 84.5; 2, Gestion Goliath 80.91; 3, Blue Hors Cavan (L Petersen-DEN) 79.9; 4, Jonggor’s Weyden 78.78; 5, Invasor (R Soto-SPA) 77.75; 6, FBW Kennedy 77.5.Overall individual 1, Rusty 237.64; 2, Gestion Goliath 228.47; 3, Farbenfroh 228.38; 4, Jonggor’s Weyden 226.40; 5, Blue Hors Cavan 226.07; 6, FBW Kennedy 222.34; 19, Hiscox Askari 132.72; 21, Reuters Rascher Hopes 131.85; 22, Millenium 131.73.