‘The best feeling I’ve ever had’: Jessica von Bredow-Werndl on her gold medal-winning freestyle – and aiming for the world record

  • Jessica von Bredow-Werndl is the new European champion, having added individual freestyle gold at the European Dressage Championships to her Olympic title from earlier this summer. The German rider, who also won team gold and grand prix special gold earlier this week, rode the delightful TSF Dalera BB to a score of 91.02% to top the podium ahead of Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour in silver and Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin in bronze.

    Their test, ridden to the La La Land music that suits this elegant, joyful pair down to the ground and never fails to raise the emotions, was quite breathtaking, with a plethora of highlights. Even Jessica could not choose a highlight, saying “every moment felt very special”.

    “It was very emotional – I didn’t expect her to be that good again. That was the best feeling I have ever, ever had,” said Jessica. “She was so focused. This week has been a fairytale and Dalera is unbelievable.”

    European Dressage championships Jessica von Bredow-Werndl

    Jessica von Bredow-Werndl exits the ring after her freestyle at the European Championships

    The seven judges awarded them 27 10s in total, for their glorious, classical piaffes, super halts and the velvet-smooth piaffe-passage transitions, which appeared effortless. They also received straight 10s for the music and choreography.

    However, many of those watching the European Dressage Championships – and Jessica herself – had expected the score to have been even higher, and perhaps even to threaten the freestyle world record of 94.3%, that Charlotte Dujardin set with Valegro in 2014.

    “I had hoped for a bigger score to be honest as I had the best feeling ever – better than in Tokyo and in Balve,” said Jessica, referring to the Tokyo Olympics and to the German National Championships in June this year, where she and Dalera recorded their highest ever score of 93.03% in the freestyle.

    “She was light, she was on fire but not too much. Two days ago [in the special] she was a little bit too hot, so I couldn’t ride extensions fully, then it looked a bit intense I think. Today was the perfect energy. She loves what she does, and I feel it every second and in every movement.

    “If we ever get a world record, of course that is amazing, but I am just grateful for now, for this year and for this mare. I can’t ask for more.”

    Jessica and Béatrice Buerchler-Keller’s 14-year-old Easy Game mare have been partners for six-and-a-half years and have developed a very special bond.

    “We have a real friendship and we love spending time with each other, not only when I’m in the saddle. Whenever I’m around her I’m happy,” said Jessica, saying that Dalera will now have a long holiday with plenty of field time and hacking. “I feel like she really loves what she does and it makes it so special. She has strength and self-carriage and self-confidence now, and it’s just so fun.”

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