Who will top the Europeans freestyle? Find out when the medal contenders ride – and which big names will be missing

  • Europe’s elite dressage riders will do battle for the second set of individual medals tomorrow in Riesenbeck, Germany, and the European Dressage Championships freestyle times have now been released.

    The freestyle is open to the top 18 combinations from the grand prix special on Friday. But with a maximum of three riders per nation allowed to progress, this means that as the lowest scoring riders from their teams, Britain’s Gareth Hughes and Denmark’s Andreas Helgstrand will not be able to ride their freestyles, despite finishing 14th and 12th respectively in the special.

    European Dressage Championships freestyle times: the Brits

    Freestyle times for other major contenders

    • Frederic Wandres (GER) and Bluetooth OLD: 2.50pm (1.50pm UK time)
    • Isabell Werth (GER) and DSP Quantaz: 3.55pm (2.55pm UK time)
    • Nanna Skodborg Merrald (DEN) and Blue Hors Zepter: 4.15pm (3.15pm UK time)
    • Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER) and TSF Dalera BB: 4.25pm (3.25pm UK time)

    Who will win the European freestyle title?

    After Friday’s hotly contested grand prix special, in which Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin claimed a brilliant bronze aboard Imhotep, the top riders will do battle to reach the top of the freestyle leaderboard, and with it, the podium. The very first rider to compete in the European Dressage Championships freestyle will be Portugal’s João Pedro Moreira and Zonik Hit, at 1.30pm (12.30pm UK time).

    Meanwhile supporters will wait eagerly to see if world champions Lottie Fry and Glamourdale can muscle their way back into the medals with their high-energy “Best of British” routine, after finishing fourth in the special behind Jessica, Nanna and Charlotte.

    Having successfully reclaimed the European special title on Friday, Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl will be looking to add another gold medal to her collection. This will be the first time she and TSF Dalera BB perform their gorgeous new French-themed freestyle programme at a championship; having debuted it last autumn, they won the World Cup Final with it and will relish the opportunity to perform it to an adoring home crowd on German soil tomorrow.

    This will be the first time Glamourdale and Dalera have competed against one another in a freestyle. They came up against each other at Hagen CDI4* in 2021 on Glamourdale’s international grand prix debut, but have not been pitted against one another in a freestyle.

    Analysis would suggest the freestyle is the test in which Glamourdale is most likely to outclass Dalera. But both Imhotep and Blue Hors Zepter are also very capable of taking the freestyle gold medal, as shown by their exceptional performances in the special. Neither horse has yet reached the 90% marker in a freestyle, as both Glamourdale and Dalera have done on multiple occasions, but Imhotep in particular has so far smashed his personal best scores in both the grand prix and the special this week. There is everything to suggest he will do so again in the freestyle, meaning he could well take Charlotte ahead of her rivals.

    Finally, Carl Hester and Fame should not be ruled out, and certainly their performances and scores are on an impressive upward trajectory. But Carl has never yet ridden a freestyle on this horse, and it seems unlikely that this pair will surpass two of the top four to find their way onto the freestyle podium.

    But, as we all know, when it comes to a championship, anything could happen.

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