Britain makes history with European dressage team gold

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A sublime performance from Carl Hester and solid score from Laura Bechtolsheimer ensured team gold for Britain at the European championships — even before the competition finished.

Last to go, Adelinde Cornelissen, would have had to score over 94% for The Netherlands to go ahead of Britain. She managed an impressive 81.155% with Jerich Parzival, to stand second individually to Carl.

She said: “I didn’t have the best preparation, having to walk for an extra half hour in the indoor school [the competition was postponed due to a storm], but he still tried really hard in the arena and only had one little mistake.”

Britain, the overnight leaders thanks to standout performances from Charlotte Dujardin and Emile Faurie, were seven per cent ahead of Germany going into today’s competition.

Isabell Werth gave it her all with El Santo to raise Germany’s chances, with expressive extended trots and neat pirouettes. But scoring fours for the piaffe kept her mark at 75%.

Uthopia the wonderhorse

Carl, in contrast, had no big mistakes, and scored the first 10s of the championship — including five 10s for his riding and seven 10s for the last extended trot. They finished on 82.568% — a personal best.

On finishing Carl said: “I always believed Uthopia was a megastar, but it’s hard to say that when anyone with a black grand prix horse thinks they’ve got the next Totilas.

“He felt so light in my hand and was just a dream to ride. For a 10-year-old he goes grand prix like an old man.”

With this mark on the chart, Matthias Rath was going to have to score 85.167% riding Totilas for Germany to beat Britain, even if Laura Bechtolsheimer’s score wasn’t to count, such was Britain’s strength in depth.

Form upset

In the event, Matthias managed 79.453% with several mistakes, including missing the end of the one-time changes.

Laura had a difficult ride on Mistral Hojris, who looked strong. They backed up in the first halt, scoring fours, and missed a two-time change. Still the piaffe and passage tours were fantastic, and they finished on 77.28%. Although Laura would be disappointed, it didn’t matter for the team result.

Laura said: “Alf’s just very sensitive to sound, and when there’s noises above him and he can’t work out where they’re coming from he gets worried and gets strong. I wasn’t thrilled wih our test but that feeling was taken over by the knowledge we’d won team gold – I couldn’t be happier.”

Edward Gal had a nightmare ride on Sisther De Jeu, leaving Adelinde Cornelissen with an impossible task on Jerich Parzival. Gal still scored 70.502, but had mistakes in both the one and two-time changes, and too much tension in the piaffe throughout for fives.

With the pre-competition favourites having so many errors, and Uthopia and Valegro coming to the fore just in time, the special and kur individual medals could be open to a number of riders. All four British riders have qualified for the special after Emile Faurie finished in 18th place.

Don’t miss H&H next Thursday for full report, pictures and results

Originally published on horseandhound.co.uk