Mixed European fortunes for British dressage riders

  • At the midpoint of the Blue Hors FEI European Dressage Championship, the German team leads while Britain are some way down the results table after 2 riders.

    Gareth Hughes, the first Brit to go, scored 60.86%, an extremely disappointing result following recent mid-70s form. In the first halt the usually reliable DV Stenkjers Nadonna got a fright and tried to run backwards. While their mark looks like a disaster on paper, Gareth did well to guide the spooked mare through the test for that score. A bitter disappointment and a test the rider will be keen to forget.

    The second British rider, Michael Eilberg, rode Half Moon Delphi to 72.264%. It was a lovely, flowing test and 6 of the 7 judges marked him between 71-75%. The Swedish judge at F, Gustav Svalling — whose marks were out of kilter on a number of occasions today — saw fit to award 65.5%, leaving a 10.1% difference between Michael’s top and bottom scores.

    All is not lost, however, as the team’s two big hitters, Carl Hester (Uthopia) and Charlotte Dujardin (Valegro) are yet to come. They ride tomorrow and Britain can still be hopeful of a medal.

    The lowest score of the 4 will be dropped, so 3 of the 4 count towards the team result and Britain is still in the hunt.

    The slate is then wiped clean for the top 30 individuals who progress to the special, where the first set of individual medals are awarded. The top 15 then qualify for the freestyle to music, which takes place on Sunday.

    Para dressage European championships

    Over in the JYSK arena, where the para competition takes place, British team rider and H&H blogger Sophie Wells won her grade IV team test by 4% from the reigning Olympic champion Michele George (Saganne).

    Sophie scored 74.33%, though wasn’t totally happy with her test and added that the horse still felt a little tired from the long journey from Britain to Denmark.

    “It was a safe test,” she said. “I’ll build on that for the individual tests.”

    In the grade Ib competition, Ricky Balshaw — who is competing as an individual — was second with the Danish-bred LJT Enggaards Solitaire. He was 2.1% adrift of the reigning Olympic champion at the grade, Austrian Pepo Puch.

    Although this test does not count for Ricky, it will boost the rider’s confidence in the battle for the two sets of individual medals.

    What next?

    The remaining team riders compete tomorrow and their results, combined with their results in the individual test, decide the team placings.

    The individual test has its own set of individual medals, as does the freestyle which follows.

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