The final day of competition at the FEI European Championships in Aachen, Germany (16 August 2015) saw Charlotte Dujardin scoop a further title and gold medal, as she retained her 2013 European Individual Grand Prix Freestyle crown with her Olympic dancing partner Valegro, owned by Mrs Roly Luard, Mrs Anne Barrott and Carl Hester. The inspirational duo danced their way to the gold medal in front of 38,000 spectators to secure their second gold, and third medal of the Championships.
With the withdrawal of Fiona Bigwood after Atterupgaards Orthilia had a slight skin reaction causing sensitivity, Carl Hester was first up for the Brits this afternoon as the Freestyle competition got underway.
Producing a polished performance with Miss Jane de le Mare’s Nip Tuck, to the music of the team stalwart’s London 2012 composition, highlights came in the one and two time changes and the passage. With the marks collated eleven year old ‘Barney’ secured a high score of 79.571% - only a few marks away from his Personal Best, to finish the competition in eighth place.
Chef d’Equipe Richard Waygood commented after Carl’s test; “Carl was thrilled with the horse; Nip Tuck is still relatively inexperienced at this level and seems to grow in stature each time out. He probably felt that he peaked in the Special and this is a really good educational competition for him; although the mark was very, very respectable we know there’s more to come.”
With good results posted by Germany, The Netherlands and Spain, last to enter the atmospheric stadium was Great Britain’s Charlotte and Valegro. Entering as the score for the hosts Kristina Broring-Sprehe and Desperados FRH was announced; the crowd erupted into cheers as a score of 88.804% was awarded.
Riding to her WEG 2014 music - a very technical and difficult test, the duo produced some lovely work in the arena to see high marks awarded for their half-pass, passage, pirouettes and piaffe, but unfortunately just a slight mistake in the one time changes crept in. As the test drew to a close, the crowd were on the edge of their seats to see if she had done enough to take the gold.
With the confirmation of 89.054% it was gold for Great Britain, with the silver medal going once again to Germany’s Kristina Broring-Sprehe, whilst Spain’s Beatriz Ferrer-Salat and Delgado took the Bronze.
Charlotte spoke after her test; “I was really happy with the start of it; I just had a mistake in my one time changes, I really wanted to get them today, I thought third time lucky. I was really happy with the rest of it, it's such a long week for all the horses but I'm very happy with my test.
“It was only the ones that let the performance down; I tried them the first time and I made a mistake and I thought should I try and get them in again, so I tried on the second line and I think he’s got a thing with them now, he’s done it all week – outside he’s done brilliant with them, but then in there, I’m not really sure. I was really happy with the rest of it.
“Following Kristina you can really see and hear, and feel it, that they’re [the crowd] behind her; when I walked in, there was a huge atmosphere. I knew what was going to come; being in Aachen with Kristina being with her home crowd I was expecting it, just like I had in London.”
Equestrian Performance Director Dan Hughes commented after the result was confirmed; “It has been an excellent week in Aachen for Team GBR. The dressage squad of Michael, Fiona, Carl and Charlotte arrived here with a real sense of purpose about what they had to achieve. With Team Silver and two Individual Gold medals for Charlotte, achieve it they have.
“This is an exciting time for dressage in the UK and there could not have been a better preparation for the Olympic Games in Rio next year. The National Lottery funding we receive via UK Sport is essential to our mission which is to go one better in the team competition in 2016. We know what we have to do and how to get there and the whole team is committed to that endeavour."
Information about the European Championships across the disciplines can be located on the Team GBR website European Hub