Britain leads going into the second day of the team competition at the European dressage championships in Rotterdam (17-21 August).
Emile Faurie, the British pathfinder, took a little pressure off his teammates by laying down a plus-70% score. He used all his experience to guide the expressive — and previously explosive — Elmegardens Marquis through their test.
“Going first for the team, I knew I had to get a solid score,” said Emile. “There was a lot to see going into the arena, and everyone knows ‘Max’ can be an excitable horse, but he stayed with me throughout the test. I’m just chuffed to bits to have got a decent score for the team. If I get into the special [the top 30 riders do], I’ll be turning the engine on and taking a few calculated risks.”
The new megastar
Charlotte Dujardin, 26, made her championship debut riding Carl Hester and Roly Luard’s Valegro, scoring a personal best of plus-78%. The nine-year-old by Negro cruised through the movements without error, finishing on 78.83%.
Highlights included the metronomic piaffe, for which Valegro scored eights and nines.
Charlotte, who is talk of the championships with her sensitive riding style, said: “It’s just great to be here and Valegro is such a fantastic horse — he always wants to do the work. To score a personal best here is really special.”
This is only the pair’s sixth grand prix.
The Netherlands vs Germany
First to go for The Netherlands, Sander Marijnissen performed an accurate test on Moedwill. It was good enough to put them just ahead of Emile, but behind Germany’s first time rider, Helen Langehanenberg.
Helen rode Damon Hill, who, despite a mistake in the tempi changes, hung on to the lead until Valegro’s test.
German’s second team rider, Christoph Koschel, disappointed on the Donnerhall-sired Don Perignon. When they missed the final one-time change, a movement for which the marks are doubled, they diminished Germany’s chances.
Christoph said: “I’m disappointed to have mistakes in movements where my horse is normally very good.” And on lying second to the British overnight: “We did know the British would be very strong here, I’m not surprised they’re in the lead at this stage.”
The Netherlands saw their opportunity to make up ground on Germany at least, and Hans Peter Minderhoud (Exquis Nadine), last to go in today’s session, said: “After the German riders’ scores I thought I could do something here and make sure were in second place over night, but then my mare was not as good as she can be and we had mistakes so it was not enough.”
Tomorrow, The Netherlands are fielding world number one Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival. Meanwhile, Totilas makes his championship debut for Germany under Matthias Rath. But British number one Laura Bechtolsheimer (Mistral Hojris) will fight alongside Carl Hester (Uthopia) to maintain the British lead and take team gold for the first time ever.
For full report, pictures and results, don’t miss H&H next Thursday!
1, Valegro (C Dujardin, GBR) 78.83
2, Donn Perignon (C Koschel, GER) 71.44
3, Damon Hill (H, Langehanenberg GER) 71.08
6, Elmegardens Marquis (E Faurie) 70.43