Championship debutante claims Britain’s first medal of the Europeans

Championship first-timer Georgia Wilson has won silver for Britain at the European Para Dressage Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The 23-year-old kept her cool in the grade II individual championship to score 73.47% with the 10-year-old mare Midnight, and finish in silver medal position behind the multi-medalled Austrian Pepo Puch, who took gold aboard his double world silver medallist Sailor’s Blue.

“Wow — I came here with the aim of just getting through to the freestyle,” said Georgia after her silver medal was confirmed.

“It was nerve-racking, but I told myself just to breathe and it would be fine. Midnight gives me confidence; she doesn’t spook or anything, and she just loves to flick her toes.”

The expressive mare by Hilkens Black Delight looked to be thoroughly enjoying herself in the arena, producing an active, fluid round that earned plenty of 7.5s and eights from the judges.

“It’s so nice to be here representing my country at a major championship — thank you to World Class, and of course to Sophie,” added Georgia, who trains with teammate Sophie Wells., for whom this is a first championship acting as a trainer as well riding.

The Netherlands’ Nicole den Dulk took bronze with Wallace NOP. She and the 16-year-old KWPN gelding posted 73.25% to finish just a fraction behind Georgia.

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Britain’s Mari Durward-Akhurst was also in action on the first day of the para dressage in Rotterdam. She and the 20-year-old gelding Sky O’Hara finished seventh in the grade I at their first championship, with more than 70%.

“He was a bit on his toes in there but it was great to have him so up in my hand,” said Mari, who has qualified for the freestyle on Sunday.

It was tight at the top of the grade I championship, with Norway’s Jens-Lasse Dokkan and Aladdin winning on collectives from Italy’s Sara Morganti with Royal Delight. Latvia’s Rihards Snikus and King Of The Dance claimed bronze.

Don’t miss next week’s issue of H&H for extensive coverage from the European Dressage, Para Dressage and Showjumping Championships, out 29 August.