Britain’s Gareth Hughes produced the best grand prix of his career to keep Britain comfortably in the silver medal position overnight at the Longines European Dressage Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Gareth and the 13-year-old Classic Briolinca, whom he owns with his wife Rebecca and Julia Hornig, pulled out the stops with a beautiful round to score 76.35%, a personal best in this test. They had no mistakes and the Trento B mare’s super passage, pirouttes and tempi changes raked in the high scores.
Gareth now sits third individually behind Dorothee Schneider and Showtime FRH, who top the leaderboard for Germany with 80.23% and her compatriot Jessica von Bredow-Werndl with TSF Dalera BB, who pipped Gareth by 0.5%.
“Briolinca has never been in this sort of atmosphere but she was unreal out there — she tried so hard and it gives me the confidence to ride for more,” said an overjoyed Gareth, who admitted that he had been struggling with nerves the night before, and only got four hours sleep. “Today felt so long as well — usually when I have anxiety I go off and watch a DVD or have a sleep, but here there is nowhere to go to have a bit of quiet time as the horseboxes aren’t close, so you’re just sitting and watching, with the test running through your head.
“She has had quite a stop-start career at grand prix, as she has had injuries in the past, so she’s still quite inexperienced, but she has got better every time out this year. I couldn’t be happier for the whole team who have played such a massive part in getting this mare where she is, including our farrier, vet, groom Steph Sharples and the girls at home.”
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With a strong score already on the table courtesy of championship first-timer Lottie Fry, 23 — who posted 74.33% with Dark Legend this morning — Britain now heads into the second day of the team competition in a strong position. Germany hold the gold medal spot, as expected, with Britain in silver and Sweden close behind in bronze. Host side the Netherlands currently lie fourth with Denmark in fifth and Portugal currently sixth.
Ireland hold 10th position overnight after solid performances from Kate Dwyer and Snowdon Faberge and Heike Holstein with her home-bred mare Sambuca.
Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin will ride for Britain in the second section of the grand prix tomorrow (Tuesday, 20 August). Carl and the 11-year-old Diamond Hit gelding Hawtins Delicato are on at 11am (10am UK time), with Charlotte riding last for Britain at 2.50pm (1.50pm UK time) with the 10-year-old Fidermark mare Mount St John Freestyle.
Don’t miss our extensive preview of the European Dressage, Para Dressage and Showjumping Championships, with rider profiles, medal predictions and detailed analysis, in this week’s issue of H&H (dated 15 August).