Charlotte Dujardin crowned Britain’s first European dressage champion

  • Charlotte Dujardin added another gold medal to her shining haul and became the first British European dressage champion with a spellbinding freestyle on Valegro at the FEI European Dressage Championships in Herning, Denmark this afternoon.

    Their performance earned 91.25% — just 1.05% shy of Edward Gal’s 92.3% world record on Totilas, set at Olympia in 2009.

    It was the same trio atop the podium in the same order as the grand prix special, with Helen Langehanenberg (Damon Hill) taking silver and Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival picking up another bronze.

    The podium of the European dressage freestyle, with Charlotte Dujardin in gold

    Charlotte rode her London Olympic partner Valegro to the patriotic soundtrack she used at the Games and was foot perfect on the music.

    I had fun out there,” beamed Charlotte. “It was probably the best I’d ever been on the music and he felt fresh and keen to work. He tried his heart out.”

    This brings her medal tally to 3 at these championships after bagging team bronze and gold in the special.

    The 10,000-seater stadium was totally sold out and from the very first horse the spectators clapped along to the final centre line of almost every rider’s test.

    Carl Hester, silver medallist at the Europeans in Rotterdam, coaxed his best performance of the week out of Uthopia and they scored 81.696% for eventual 6th.

    The third Brit to qualify for the freestyle was Michael Eilberg. He had a difficult start to the test when his music started late and he had to play catch-up. Mistakes crept into Half Moon Delphi tempi-changes but the delightful combination still racked up 74.232%.

    Para dressage glory

    Britain’s para dressage riders also added to our medal haul. Natasha Baker and Sophies Christiansen and Wells all added a 3rd gold to the treasure trove in the freestyle, while Ricky Balshaw bagged a grade Ib silver behind the Olympic champion Pepo Puch from Austria. Anne Dunham was second behind Sophie in the grade Ia kur, but not by much.

    Britain’s para riders came away from the show with the maximum number of medals that they could have won.

    Don’t miss the full report, pictures and news from the ECCO FEI European Championships in next week’s issue of Horse & Hound (out 29 August).

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