“I’m so delighted – what a fabulous horse,” she said. “He’s come of age this year and is getting better and better weekly at the moment. He was such a professional in there. I didn’t do a great deal of working in as I felt he was on the money.
“He loves to show off and he’s confident now in himself, which her perhaps wasn’t before. He was really level-headed and stayed with me and was 100% focused. I’m so so proud – I just needed to remember where I was going!”
The Holsteiner was named Dublin when Nicola chose him at the sales in Germany as a four-year-old for owners Jo and James Lambert and Deirdre Johnston, and they decided to add JL for their initials “rather than calling him Dublin the sixth, seventh or 18th or 80th”.
“He’s only 10 and missed half a year when I had my neck injury and then time with Covid, so he’s relatively inexperienced, but even though he’s not been on the competition field, he’s still trained and become stronger and more established in his mind.
“The quiet time was a positive for him as it let him get stronger and more able to cope with the demands of the dressage and carry himself – I couldn’t be prouder of him. I feel very lucky to have him,” said Nicola, who paid tribute to trainers Chris Bartle and Ian Woodhead and her groom, Ruth Asquith.
Nicola described the Europeans cross-country course as “positively terrifying”.
“It’s demanding both mentally and physically and intense towards the end with the twists and turns,” she said. “You’re always on the level so the horses don’t get a downhill to have a recovery and the questions are thick and fast to the last fence, which isn’t just an easy fence – it’s a big old table. There’s a great deal to jump out there. But we look forward to the challenge and hope both of us are up to it.”
Piggy March was the early leader for Great Britain on Brookfield Inocent and now sits second, 2,4 penalties behind Nicola.
Their combined scores mean Britain holds team gold, 11.8 penalties ahead of France, before tomorrow’s second day of Eventing European Championships dressage action. Germany is just 1.1 marks behind France in team bronze.
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