Who’s heading for the Europeans?

The best dressage riders from 24 nations have confirmed their entries for the European Dressage Championships at Hickstead on 13-17 August.

Germany has declared 11 combinations to defend its title, including the four who led the team to victory at Aachen. Rusty and Ulla Salzgeber (pictured) will need to get the all-clear following Rusty’s positive test for a prohibited substance at the World Cup in Goteborg before being allowed to compete.

Isabell Werth, a notable absentee from the team at Aachen, has been declared with two rides, Satchmo – who only started grand prix this season but finished second in the CDI grand prix at Aachen, scoring more than 73% – and Apache, who is still relatively inexperienced at this level.

For the Dutch, current Olympic individual gold medallist Anky van Grunsven, who has now recuperated from breaking her leg in January, has been declared with Gestion Krack C and Gestion Salinero.

Anky recently won the Dutch national championship with Salinero, scoring more than 78% in the grand prix special. Dutch team stalwarts Ellen Bontje and Gestion Silvano N, who was spun in the trot-up at the World Equestrian Games last year, have also been declared.

The championships are open to nations outside Europe but the US is not fielding a team. However, German-based Lisa Wilcox and the stunning Oldenburg breeding stallion, Relevant, who were runners-up at Aachen, will be seeking to go one better individually.

The British team is down to a short-list of eight and must finish as one of the two best teams not already qualified in order to fulfil FEI requirements to go next year’s Athens Olympics. The teams from Germany, the USA, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden are already qualified.

Additionally, the British team must achieve scores averaging 68% before the British Olympic Association will consider funding a British team.

The Russian team could provide a strong challenge, as it is likely to feature Elena Sidneva and Artax Condor, who were ninth individually at Aachen.

The Irish squad will also be aiming for Olympic qualification. The team will include Heike Holstein (Welt Adel), Anna Merveldt Steffens (Fosbury 2), Yvette Truesdale (Accolade) and new member James Connor, who only recently changed nationality from Italian to Irish.

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