It was a tough night for the courageous British riders under the beaming lights of the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg for the Longines FEI European Championships dressage team medals. Germany were the standout favourites so it was then a four way battle to decide the remaining medals between the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and the Brits.
Emile Faurie and Elena Knyaginicheva’s Lollipop 126 gave the team a positive start last night with a solid 72.286%. Spencer Wilton was our first rider in tonight in perfect weather conditions with Jen Goodman’s British bred Super Nova II and hopes were high as the duo has been in great form. The marks were flowing for the De Niro gelding with the scores trending around 77% but then disaster struck in the canter zig zag when the lateral momentum was lost. Spencer kept his cool but then a second mistake coming out of the first pirouette where ‘Neville’ dropped off the leg cost them further. Being the professional he is, Spencer held everything together but these two movements earn double marks so they were expensive. The final mark was 72.06% and the duo certainly divided the judges with the placings ranging from 10th to 26th.
Spencer said afterwards; “I’m so pleased with him. He had quite a difficult time in the warm-up before we went in, but I felt like he was gaining confidence all the way through. Apart from the mistakes it felt that he did really nicely. I was really pleased with his passage, but he just wasn’t really relaxed enough – but I’m really pleased that he gave me the feeling that he was growing in confidence. It felt really good.
“I really, really hope we get through to the Special, it would be brilliant; I know he can do it and he’s a really good horse.”
It was still a great score on the premier European stage but was a few percent short of the ideal. However, in Carl Hester Great Britain couldn’t have a better anchor man and if anyone could pull off a score against the odds, he could.
The third riders from Germany, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands all gave their nations good scores to keep the battle very much alive and as we moved into the final wave of riders, the tension hit exhausting levels as the calculators began working frantically.
The first of the final team riders in medal contention was Edward Gal for the Netherlands with Glocks Voice and they gave it a good go but 72.457% was short of what was required to put the pressure on for a medal and it looked like the Dutch would finish just out of the medals.
Next up was Carl with Jane de la Mare and his own Nip Tuck. The Don Ruto sired gelding has risen to the challenge on every occasion and has surpassed all expectations and tonight he did is utmost once again. There were a few heart stopping moments as ‘Barney’ can be unpredictable but once the canter work started, the marks began to climb and the hopes of a medal were raised.
74.9% was the final score which slotted us nicely into silver but the final big guns for Sweden, Denmark and Germany were to come.
Carl told us; “He really does try his best. He really loves the canter work and that’s his strong point. The ones, the twos, the pirouettes, he just gets on with his job. He’s so genuine but battles physically at this level and he’s really done nothing this year.”
Patrik Kittel was next for the home side which brought a huge cheer from the crowd as he and Delaunay entered the arena. The crowd willed them on and 73.857% was the score which was enough to promote them above the Brits thus relegating us to bronze.
In cantered Cathrine Dufour with Atterupgaards Cassidy and the pressure was on to bring Denmark into a medal chance. The duo have been tipped for individual honours so if anyone could pull off a good score, it was them. It was a fairly faultless performance from the Caprimond gelding and it wowed the judges who duly rewarded it with 78.3% which gave Denmark silver, Sweden bronze and sadly relegated us to fourth by just 1.871%. It the first time since 2009 we haven’t featured on a team medal podium which felt strange for many.
As ever, Carl was upbeat about it, commenting; “At the end of the day, we were a snip off the bronze but it’s great to see Denmark and Sweden up there; it’s great for the sport. A medal at Windsor in 2009 changed our lives so hopefully it will do the same for them but it hasn’t gone our way this time all along.
“It’s not a disaster, I just don’t like the feeling of going home without a medal, our first time in eight years, but we mustn’t be disappointed with fourth.”
It was just the red hot favourite combination of Isobell Werth and Weihegold OLD to show just what they could do. Such has been the dominance of the German team, their score was irrelevant to the competition as the gold had already been secured so the pressure was off and the crowd could get behind them. So much so that they hand clapped them down the final centre line after witnessing some amazing work which the judges unanimously marked them clear winners on 83.743%, including four tens for her riding.
All three British riders are through to the Special on Friday and now the pressure of the team competition is behind them and it’s individual honours to play for, they can really go for it.
Final team standings:
GER – 237.072
DEN – 224.643
SWE – 221.143
GBR – 219.272
NED – 216.628
Article Source: British Dressage News
Image courtesy BD Archive
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