After yesterday’s great tests from Michael Eilberg and Fiona Bigwood, it was the turn of Gloucestershire’s Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin today as the final of the team competition drew to a close at the FEI Dressage European Championships in Aachen, Germany (13 August 2015).
Having occupied the bronze medal position overnight, it was a nail-biting finish to the team event, with all to play for as the last two British team riders took to the arena. Team stalwart Carl Hester was the first of the Brits into the impressive Aachen stadium. Riding Miss Jane De La Mare’s Nip Tuck the pair produced a lovely test as the temperature soared to be rewarded with a score of 75.400%, for a ninth place Grand Prix finish.
Carl commented after his test; “He’s so consistent, he’s a horse that’s never had under 70%; it’s his second Championship at eleven years old; I’m really, really happy with how he’s going and a lot of horses have had issues in there, so for a horse that’s very young to go in there and have just a couple of minor mistakes, I’m delighted with him.
“It was a little more difficult going towards A; I don’t know what he saw down there, that’s what made him back up when he was on that right diagonal which is why I missed the change, he’s such an obedient horse, it just caught him out at the end there. For me personally that’s the best ride I’ve ever had at an Aachen, having finished last here – probably about 15 years ago, it was a great improvement.”
Charlotte and Valegro, owned by Mrs Roly Luard, Mrs Anne Barrott and Carl Hester, were the final combination in for Great Britain. With the crowd buzzing, Charlotte produced a lovely test with just a couple of small mistakes for a final score of 83.029%.
Commenting afterwards Charlotte said; “I had a problem on the zig-zag, that was completely my fault and then I think I still had that on my mind when I went into the changes, so then I had a mistake in the changes, a little bit disappointed with that but the beginning felt really good. I don’t think there’s many horses that have gone in and not had a mistake. We all went in to try our best and enjoy it.”
With The Netherland’s Edward Gal and Glock’s Undercover N.O.P. posting 82.229% the team medals were all to be decided as the final rider, the host nation’s Kristina Broring-Sprehe and Desperados FRH, entered the arena. As a score of 79.743% was confirmed, the medals were decided – Gold to The Netherlands (with a total mark of 235.629), Silver to Great Britain (234.229) and Bronze to Germany (230.914) – with less than 5% separating the top three nations.
Chef d’Equipe for the dressage team Richard Waygood said; "What a fantastic day for the sport it was very exciting right up until the end; we're very proud of all our riders. We've got some great potential for next year and it's going to make the Olympics very exciting."
All four British riders now go forward to contest Saturday’s Grand Prix Special.
This was the final opportunity for European teams not qualified for next year’s Olympic Games to achieve qualification; the nations cementing their place following today’s competition are: Spain, Sweden and France.
Equestrian Team GBR is supported by the UK Sport National Lottery funded World Class Programme; the British teams are very grateful to the support they receive from official Team GBR suppliers Dodson & Horrell, Equi-Trek, Land Rover, NAF, NuuMed, Point Two Equine, Tagg Equestrian and Toggi.
Start list for Saturday's Grand Prix Special can be found at: http://results.aachen2015.de/show/7/event/34/competition/2/startlist/