Britain lie in bronze at the end of the first of two days of competition to decide the team medals at the FEI European Dressage Championships in Aachen. Germany lead the way with the Netherlands sitting in silver. Sweden, Belgium and Spain – all nations chasing that all-important Olympic qualification – are very close indeed in fourth, fifth and sixth places.
Britain’s second team rider, Fiona Bigwood (pictured top), pulled off a stonking test to sit in individual second overnight, just 0.01% adrift. The leader Diederik van Silfhout (Arlando) is on 75.814%, with Fiona breathing down his neck with 75.8%.
She was delighted with her ride on Atterupgaards Orthilia (Tillie) – the first time the 10-year-old Oldenburg mare by Gribaldi had ever performed in such a big atmosphere.
“She was nervous in the 10-minute box,” said Fiona, “and as this was only really our sixth show together, I don’t actually know her that well.
“My main aim was a clear round and I feel we more or less got that. I’m so pleased to have put down a good score for the team.”
There was a murmur of appreciation during Tillie’s first extended trot, as her lack of competition exposure means many spectators had never seen her before. There was a less welcome hulabaloo when the live scoring malfunctioned and was turned off during her test – it was showing a worryingly low trending score of 66% for a time.
Arlando is also only 10, but Tillie missed last year following Fiona’s fall in which she sustained a head injury – and still suffers from double vision to this day, hence the eye patch she wears.
During this afternoon’s session, Germany’s second rider Isabell Werth had a few issues with the opinionated Don Johnson, by Don Frederico.
He made mistakes in the one-time changes and had to settle for a final score of 74.78%; below what he is capable of, and also below their compatriot Jessica von Bredow-Werndl. If Germany’s remaining two combinations perform as expected tomorrow, Isabell’s mark will be her nation’s drop score.
Earlier in the day Michael Eilberg scored 69.94% with Marakov, while Carl Hester had an inauspicious start to his championships when he and Nip Tuck took a tumble while cooling down after a training session.
The second and final day of the team competition kicks off at 10am UK time, with Carl due in at 2pm UK time and Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro fourth from last at 6pm UK time.
Top six team standings at the halfway point
Jessica von Bredow-Werndl on Unee BB 75.2%
Isabell Werth on Don Johnson 74.786%
Diederik van Silfhout on Arlando 75.814%
Patrick van der Meer on Uzzo 72.4%
Fiona Bigwood on Atteruggaards Orthilia 75.8%
Michael Eilberg and Marakov 69.943%.
Emilie Nyrerod on Miata 71.829%
Minna Telde on Santana 68.714%
Jorinde Verwimp on Tiamo 71.086%
Fanny Verliefden on Annarico 69.2%
Jose Daniel Martin Dockx on Grandioso 71.343%
José Antonio Garcia Mena on Norte Lovera 68.771%