Champions rise to the occasion. And so do the Brits.
Between living legends Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin, wunderkind Charlotte “Lottie” Fry and veteran Gareth Hughes, the British team competing at the FEI Dressage European Championships has collectively laid claim to 59 championship medals before setting hoof in Riesenbeck, GER.
On Thursday, they pushed it over 60.
Sixteen nations sent forth 32 of Europe’s top combinations for the team medal showdown. Great Britain held the provisional lead after day one of team competition with solid scores by Hester on new mount Fame (78.540%) and Hughes on his veteran partner Classic Briolinca (74.565%).
The Charlottes closed the deal on day two, each delivering personal best scores to claim team gold, Britain’s first since London 2012.
For new mom Dujardin, the European Championships did not start well.
“When I got here Pete [Imhotep] had been travel sick, there were complications getting here because of the EU paperwork that was done wrong, so he had 19 hours of travel and he’s never travelled that far. So he arrived with travel sickness but we have a great team of vets that helped so thankfully he was fine. And then [my six month old daughter] Isabella got a temperature. She was really sick and had high fever so I got about an hour’s sleep on Monday because she was so poorly—it’s been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster for me this week!” Dujardin said.
That didn’t stop her and 10 year old KWPN Imhotep from delivering one of only three plus 80 scores on the day, after earning nines for their canter pirouettes and tens for the pirouette right. Their new personal best in the Grand Prix: 82.422%.
According to Dujardin, there’s much yet to come from the chestnut powerhouse.
“Pete is an unbelievable horse. He has so much power, so much ability. His brain is phenomenal and he tries so hard, he’s gone out there today and done his absolute best—win or lose, when you’ve done a test like that you can’t ask anymore.
[And] there’s still more, I’m still riding on half power—I can do everything bigger but I lose the balance, the frame and the contact. He still needs to get physically stronger to manage all of that.”
Reigning World Champions Fry and Glamourdale needed to score upwards of 78.800% to secure the gold. Stay cool under pressure, if not in the 86 degree heat, the 28 year old anchor showed off her stallion’s sweeping lateral work in both trot and canter, 10-earning tempi-changes and trademark extended canter.
The pair lost a few marks on the final centre line, after a small interruption in rhythm in the final piaffe, but still managed to pull out a new personal best score of 81.258%, enough to confirm Britain’s win. Their team total: 242.220.
“He felt amazing in there. He had a few small distractions, noises from outside that caught his attention, which was a shame, but to still score a personal best shows how much he’s improved from last year and I’m really happy with it!” said Fry.
“It’s so special to win a team gold, especially with a team that have been together for quite a few championships now, which makes it even more special. It’s really incredible. Glammy is completely amazing, I know he’s capable of helping them to gold but we need four of us on the team and four amazing horses.
“He went in there today feeling on fire. I’m really excited for the next few days, especially now that he’s been in there once.”
Host nation Germany, represented by Jessica von Bredow-Werndl/Dalera BB, Isabel Werth/DSP Quantaz, Matthias Alexander Rath/TSF Dalera BB and Frederic Wandres/Bluetooth OLD, took silver on a team total of 239.674. Tokyo 2020 Olympic champions von Bredow-Werndl and Dalera BB also lead the individual standings on 84.612%.
Denmark claimed bronze on 228.727, spearheaded by Nanna Skodborg Merrald/Blue Hors Zepter, Dalera Carina Cassoe Kruth/Heiline’s Danciera, Andreas Helgstrand/Jovian and Daniel Bachmann Andersen/Vayron.
Competition at the FEI Dressage European Championships continues Friday with the Para Grade V and IV Team medal round and the top 30 individuals return for the Grand Prix Special.