‘This is the stuff dreams are made of’: Gareth Hughes dazzles in grand prix special as Germans top podium

Germany and Denmark may have claimed the podium places in this evening’s grand prix special at the European Dressage Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, but it was Gareth Hughes who set the arena alight for Britain with a career best test.

Gareth and the 13-year-old Trento B mare Classic Briolinca produced an almost foot perfect ride to post a personal best of 78.05% — the highest score of Gareth’s entire career.

It’s so special to be doing this on this mare; we have had her since a three-year-old and we’ve had so many ups and downs with her,” an emotional Gareth said. “She tried her heart out in there, even though she had never been in an atmosphere like that before, under floodlights and with so much noise. This is the stuff dreams are made of, and I couldn’t believe that score.”

Isabell Werth and Bella Rose

Isabell Werth added another gold medal to her ever swelling collection, posting 86.53% with the Belissimo M daughter Bella Rose. Her German teammate Dorothee Schneider gave her a real run for her money however, setting the bar startlingly high with 85.46% aboard the impressive Sandro Hit gelding Showtime FRH.

“It’s been a fantastic evening; this feels amazing. After Dorothee scored 85% I thought it would be difficult to beat, but I know that on Bella Rose anything is possible,” said Isabell.

Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour made her return to the podium, matching her 2017 European bronze medal here. After a below par grand prix in the pouring rain, she and Atterupgaards Cassidy, by Caprimond, were back to their brilliant best to achieve 81.34%.

Judy Reynolds was another to produce the ride of her life, slotting into a fantastic fifth with Vancouver K after earning 78.25%.

“He was so on it; he was focused, not at all disturbed by the crowd, and really listening to me,” Judy said of the 17-year-old JP, with whom she helped secure Ireland’s first ever Olympic team qualification in the grand prix. earlier this week.

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Britain’s Carl Hester finished ninth after a lovely test, just marred by a mistake in the one-time changes. Lottie Fry finished 17th with Dark Legend, having posted a pleasing 73.82%.

The top 15 riders will progress through to the grand prix freestyle on Saturday, when another set of individual medals will be up for grabs.

Don’t miss next week’s issue of H&H for extensive coverage from the European Dressage, Para Dressage and Showjumping Championships, out 29 August.