‘We are not machines – it will never happen again’: rider takes the lead in Europeans freestyle despite major error

  • The European Dressage Championships freestyle is underway, on the final day of action in Riesenbeck, Germany.

    With the first nine combinations having completed their European Dressage Championships freestyle, it is Germany’s Frederic Wandres who sits atop the leaderboard, having scored 84.5&% with Bluetooth OLD.

    This was despite Frederic making an error in his floorplan, missing out his left trot half-pass from its planned place within the programme. Frederic did what he could to show some steps of it later in the test, to avoid missing out on the mark altogether, but it left them short of what they might have received.

    “I knew the way, but we are also only human,” said Frederic after coming out of the ring. “It was a big pilot error, but horse felt very good, even on the third day in this heat he is still shining.

    “I felt in the half-pass there is something not ideal in this moment, that I did it before, so then I was trying to fix it but not easy to fix it when you have a written-down floorplan, so I knew I could do an additional movement somewhere, and I had to look for space to do it, so I tried to do something like a half-pass in the end. The result is still very good so I can only imagine how might it might have been.

    “I’m just disappointed with myself because he is so good and we couldn’t show it today, but hopefully next time.

    “It was just a big, big mistake was on my side; it should not happen but we are not machines. It will never happen again!”

    European Dressage Championships freestyle: son of champions records personal best

    Norway’s Isabel Freese sits second on the leaderboard, having scored 82.6% with 11-year-old Total Hope OLD.

    This score is a massive personal best for the pair, who failed to qualify for the special, let alone the freestyle at their championship debut in 2022. But with both his parents being former European champions – Totilas and Weihegold OLD – Total Hope always had what it takes to make a serious impact on the world stage.

    “It felt great, a bit hot! I’m just so happy to come into first freestyle and be able to ride it and I’m really happy with my horse,” said Isabel. “He is a breeding stallion, and last year was maybe a bit early. He now trusts me more, we have more relaxation. Because he is a breeding stallion we don’t do so many shows, but I think we had good prep for this show.

    “I think he got something from both parents; he’s very talented for the movements, it’s just about keeping him cool and happy and supple. He’s doing a great job.”

    Sweden’s Patrik Kittel is currently in third, having posted 81.12% with Touchdown, a good score but some way short of their best after some tension crept in, leading to mistakes in the two-time changes.

    Meanwhile, Daniel Bachmann Andersen couldn’t quite recreate the magic of his special with the lofty, green Vayron, scoring 77.28% with some mistakes, but he was philosophical about it.

    “He was quite tired, this is all so new to him and with the heat; today was a bonus that he even got that far,” said the Dane. “I felt like he won the special for me, and used all his energy there which is fine. This is the first time he’s ever gone three days after each other. Generally I’m happy, we go home from this with huge experience, great experience, a bronze medal, a great special.”

    Vayron suffered from colic only a month ago, and Daniel explained it was quite a challenge to have him ready for this, his first championship, at all.

    “To get him back in shape for a show like this was such a challenge as we haven’t been able to train as much and he had to have a few weeks off.”

    The British riders will perform their freestyle in the second half of the class: Lottie Fry and Glamourdale at 4.35pm (3.35pm UK time), Carl Hester and Fame at 4.45pm (3.45pm UK time) and Charlotte Dujardin and Imhotep at 4.55pm (3.55pm UK time).

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