‘I never thought I would make it to this stage’: Irish rider makes championship debut at European Dressage Championships

  • The first combination for Ireland, Carolyn Mellor and Gouverneur M, have completed their grand prix at the European Dressage Championships in Hagen, Germany.

    Carolyn and the 10-year-old bay gelding by Voice scored 64.39%, and Carolyn was described the experience – a championship debut for both her and “Gucci” – as a “big learning curve”.

    “It’s very surreal – I never thought I would make it to this stage, so it’s brilliant. I can’t wait for next time!” said Carolyn, who is based in Co. Durham, and says it has been very difficult to give Gucci the experience he has needed during the pandemic, with shows cancelled and travel to the UK restricted.

    “It’s been tough, as he is only 10 years old and my first grand prix horse – I haven’t been here before either. It’s a bit like the blind leading the blind,” said Carolyn, who trains with Horse Sport Ireland high-performance dressage director Johann Hinnemann as well as Pammy Hutton, and bought Gucci as a two-year-old from his breeders, the Van Mooks in the Netherlands.

    “He’s never seen an arena like this before. I’m super proud – of course there were mistakes, and of course we were green in places. I thought the piaffe was better than it has been – he doesn’t always get the rhythm, but I thought it didn’t feel too bad. I was just glad to get a clear-ish round,” she added.

    “He is a big fellow and it’s taking him a long time to mature for this kind of work. But he tries very, very hard. As Carl Hester said to me at Hartpury, he’ll be a lovely horse next year.”

    Ireland originally selected a team of three to compete at the European Dressage Championships, but after the withdrawal of UK-based Alex Baker, the remaining riders, Carolyn and Anna Merveldt, will compete as individuals.

    Anna’s ride, the 12-year-old Lusitano stallion Esporim, was held overnight after yesterday’s European Dressage Championships trot-up, but is set to compete in the grand prix tomorrow (Wednesday, 8 September) as planned.

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