‘Beyond my wildest dreams’: British junior riders power to team and individual medals at dramatic Europeans

  • Myles Graham led the British team to bronze at the Dressage Junior European Championships in Kronberg, Germany, before collecting individual freestyle bronze for himself on the final day.

    Riding Caroline Bell’s 16-year-old mare Nibeley Union Hit, 16-year-old Myles finished best of the Brits in eighth, in what turned out to be a turbulent team competition at the dressage junior Europeans.

    As team anchor, Myles’ score was enough to secure the bronze medal for the team, which also featured Ruby Hughes (Classic Goldstrike), Mette Dahl (Caporal De Massa) and Isla Sully (Vagabond De Massa).

    In an unprecedented turn of events, four teams ended up on the dressage junior Europeans podium, with Germany winning gold and Denmark and Austria each taking silver, although they finished on different scores. An error of course by Austria’s Fanny Jöbstl, when she rode two left pirouettes in her team test, went unnoticed during the test by the head of the judging panel, Alice Schwab at C, which meant Fanny was initially awarded very low scores by the other judges for the incorrect movement, but without the chance to redo it correctly.

    After the conclusion of the class, which had left Austria in fourth, an appeal from the Austrian team resulted in Fanny’s marks for the pirouette in question being raised to sevens and 6.5, and an error of course penalty deducted. The change meant Austria leapt up the leaderboard into silver, which would have pushed Denmark down into bronze, and Britain out of the medals altogether.

    But, in order not to leave any team at a disadvantage, organisers opted to give out two silver medals, to Austria and Denmark, with Britain remaining in their original bronze medal position.

    “They’ve really stepped up this week,” said British chef d’equipe Nina Boex of her team. “They were all fantastic and there was an awesome team spirit with the support team and officials.” 

    Britain's Myles Graham claims freestyle bronze, sharing the podium with Germany's Allegra Schmitz-Morkramer and Lana-Pinou Baumgürtel

    Britain’s Myles Graham claims freestyle bronze, sharing the podium with Germany’s Allegra Schmitz-Morkramer (gold) and Lana-Pinou Baumgürtel (silver). By FEI/sportfotos-lafrentz.de/Stefan Lafrentz

    Myles then went on to finish fifth in the individual and scoop bronze in the freestyle with an impressive 77.89%, riding to a Johnny English and F1-themed programme.

    “The team bronze was amazing – to be a part of that was fabulous,” he said. 

    “In the individual, ‘Una’ performed beyond my expectations. We came into the freestyle just wanting to have some fun and enjoy it, and I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d come away with an individual bronze. All the training of the music really paid off – I feel like we’d nailed every movement and the judges rewarded us for it.”

    Isla and Mette also qualified to ride the freestyle, with their pair of Lusitano full brothers. Isla and Vagabond De Massa finished eighth on 75.95% while Mette and Caporal de Massa, her ride of just three months, scored 71.98% for 16th. 

    These championships capped an exciting fortnight for British youth dressage, the young rider team having captured bronze a week earlier, and Annabella Pidgley claiming double gold.

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