‘Relishing the challenge to bring back a gold!’ Meet our European dressage squad

  • Following the announcement of the British squad for the Longines FEI European Dressage Championships in Aachen, Germany (12-16 August), we bring you all of the facts and figures about the four selected horses and riders.

    Meet the British dressage squad for the Europeans

    Fiona Bigwood


    Age: 39
    From: Horsham, West Sussex
    Horse: 10-year-old Atterupgaards Orthilia (Tillie)
    Owner: Penny Bigwood
    Previous success: Dressage rider Fiona Bigwood first represented Britain at the 1993 Junior European Championships. In 1996 21-year-old Fiona was the youngest British rider to be selected for a senior European Championships with Dance & Fly. In 2014, a freak schooling fall left Fiona with serious visual impairment and she still has double vision and has to ride with an eye patch. Tillie is in her first year of grand prix, but has impressed judges and selectors enough to get the call-up.
    What you might not know: Fiona’s husband, Anders Dahl, is also a top dressage rider who represents Denmark.
    Her reaction to selection: “Tillie is the horse of a lifetime; she’s a dream horse.  She has everything; the temperament, movement and ability so it’s up to me as a rider now to produce her in the ring.”

    Charlotte Dujardin



    Age: 30
    From: Newent, Gloucestershire
    Horse: 13-year-old Valegro (Blueberry)
    Owner: Roly Luard, Anne Barrott and Carl Hester
    Previous success: The reigning Olympic, World and European Champion, Charlotte requires no introduction. The Sunday Times and Sky Sports 2014 Sportwoman of the Year also holds all three world records for dressage which were all achieved with Valegro.
    What you might not know: Charlotte’s riding career began in the show ring, but after she first went to Carl Hester’s yard for lessons and yard work in 2007, she never left.
    Her reaction to selection: “He’s [Valegro] in great form as ever and we’re looking forward to defending our European titles but are fully aware of how strong some of the other nations and individuals are – we’re definitely not going to have it our own way!”

    Michael Eilberg

    Michael Eilberg & Marakov during the Horse Health Grand Prix Freestyle ChampionshipMichael Eilberg & Marakov

    Age: 28
    From: Redditch, Worcestershire
    Horse: 15-year-old Marakov (Marko)
    Owner: Ferdi Eilberg
    Previous success: Michael was part of the bronze medal-winning team at the 2013 European Championships and the silver medal-winning team at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in 2014 riding the recently sold Half Moon Delphi. Michael will ride his father’s Marakov at this year’s Europeans, with whom he has enjoyed success earlier this year on the Sunshine Tour.
    What you might not know: Michael origianlly pursued a showjumping career and upon leaving school went to work for Tim Stockdale.
    His reaction to selection: “He [Marakov] pretty much made his debut into dressage with me, and he was my first dressage horse; I’m teaching him a lot and he’s teaching me. I’m very chuffed that we’re on the team.”

    Carl Hester

    Carl Hester & Nip Tuck GP Special

    Age: 48
    From: Newent, Gloucestershire
    Horse: 11-year-old Nip Tuck (Barney)
    Owner: Jane de la Mere and rider
    Previous success: Carl received his first team call-up at the 1990 senior European Championships. Since then, Carl has been a stalwart of the British team and instrumental in its meteroic rise and success. He has won eight medals over the years and of course is the man behind Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro.
    What you might not know: Carl first learnt to ride in Sark, where he brought up, before eventually working for Laura Tomlinson’s father, Dr Bechtolsheimer who gave Carl his first big break.
    His reaction to selection:


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