Pure fantasy in Rotterdam

  • Not wanting to tempt fate, but the feeling at the European dressage championships in Rotterdam this morning, is that Britain are going to take team gold. And that’s not just from me, and it’s not just from the Brits. It isn’t pure fantasy, either – although there is some of that going on here.

    Thanks to fantastic scores by Emile Faurie and Charlotte Dujardin yesterday, Britain are lying seven per cent ahead of Germany. And, our second two horses (Mistral Hojris and Uthopia) are both capable of scoring plus-80%. It’s in the bag, surely?

    Granted, world number one Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival can score the same and are on home soil, but the Dutch number two, Edward Gal, would have to be going some to drag them up from their current bronze position.

    If Edward Gal still had wonder horse Totilas, it would have been a different story. Germany, having bought said horse, is in with more of a shout. Matthias Rath will be unperturbed about riding in front of a Dutch crowd gutted to have lost their national legend. And Isabel Werth’s as professional as they come.

    Everything’s come together at the right time for Britain. When I started reporting dressage for H&H five years ago, at Aachen, then chef d’equipe David Trott told me: “To be in with a chance, a country needs two horses that can score seventy per cent, and one superstar.” Now, Britain’s got THREE superstars!

    One of them, Carl Hester and Roly Luard’s Valegro, is helping 26-year-old Charlotte Dujardin live the dream. And this is fantasy. What nine-year-old horse-mad girl doesn’t daydream at Olympia of being spotted by a top rider, trained up and allowed to ride the best horse he’s ever owned in a championship? What a silly fantasy, right? And yet there Charlotte is.

    One German journalist attempted to burst her bubble in last night’s press conference, asking: “Is Valegro for sale”? We bit our lips, tempted to ask, “Why, does Germany want to purchase another made grand prix horse?”

    We’ll see. But right now enough of that, let’s relish the moment, and watch Britain make history with their first gold championship medal – just a taste of things to come in London. Go Alf, Go Uti! Right, I’m off to watch.

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