At the lunch break of the opening day’s session at the FEI European Dressage Championships (Wednesday, 12 August), Germany sit atop the leaderboard with Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (pictured top) posting an unassailable 75.5% on Unee BB.
The Dutch rider Patrick van der Meer (Uzzo) lies in second with 72.4% and in third is Sweden’s Emilie Nyrerod (Miata) with 71.82%.
Four combinations have already posted plus-70% scores. Michael Eilberg and Marakov (pictured below) looked to be the fifth, but his score was revised down some time after his test to 69.94%.
The test had a few errors in it, but the final centre line picked up strong marks. They now lie in fifth.
“He found it quite daunting in that arena,” said Michael. “I had to ‘hold his hand’ through the test and the zig-zag was a mess. But he can be really spooky, so I always just have to gague how he feels and ride accordingly.
“Aachen is such a professional set-up; you really feel that you’re at a major championships.”
One member of each team has already competed. Nations traditionally put their lowest-scoring combinations first. Teams are made up of four riders but with just three counting scores, so the current placings are likely to alter as these riders may well turn out to be the drop scores tomorrow (13 August), when the team competition culminates.
Carl Hester, who has in 15 years of competing has “never had a good Aachen” has had an inauspicious start to the championships, falling off Nip Tuck this morning.
“This is my luck in Aachen: this morning I finished my training and went for a walk round the big grass field with the eventers. A waiter dropped a tray of glasses in front of us and, being a wimpy dressage horse, Nip Tuck spun round and all 18hh of him came down on top of me on the grass.
“He shocked himself so much that he didn’t even bother to run off, which is lucky as he’s a bit neurotic and we’d probably never have caught him. So I haven’t had the best start to the week.”
Another competitor having a less than ideal start was the Ukranian Alisa Kovan’ko. She and Vian Stallone were eliminated for blood during their test. The horse, a son of Emma Hindle’s Lancet, stepped on the arena board — which is a tiny angled picket fence — and cut himself just before the first piaffe. The pair completed a few more movements before the bell was rung, signalling their elimination.
Richard Davison joined the disgruntled list when his bicycle was stolen from the British team hotel. He had borrowed it from his son to cycle daily to a nearby yard to ride his grand prix horse Bubblingh and a youngster whom he has brought over to train during the championships.
Click here for full grand prix results.