Dressage debrief: Festival of Dressage preview

By Carole Mortimer on |

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Dressage excitement will be high in Gloucestershire later this week, with British and international superstars Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin topping the bill at The Festival of Dressage and Hartpury College CDI3* (July 8-12), which is their local competition.

Dujardin, the reigning European, Olympic and world champion and current world number one, will be aboard her gold medal partner Valegro, at his first international outing since winning the World Cup finals in Las Vegas in April. Carl will ride Nip Tuck, with whom he won team silver at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) last year and more recently the CDI at Royal Windsor. It will be a final prep for the two combinations before the European Championships in Aachen (August 12-16).

The retirement of Gareth Hughes’ former team ride, DV Stenkjers Nadonna, and the sale of Michael Eilberg’s team ride, Half Moon Delphi—both team silver medallists at the 2014 WEG in Caen—means there may be two slots still available this year. Hartpury entry Fiona Bigwood will therefore be hoping that her mare Atterupgaards Orthilia continues to impress the selectors—they have three 74% plus international grand prix scores on their card so far this year—and hence gain a slot for a return to the team. Bigwood won world team silver at Lexington in 2010.

Eilberg is not entered for the grand prix but will be bringing the Russian-owned and literally million-dollar horse Der Designer to contest the international small tour.

Hartpury will also be a final selection trial for the British Paralympic team contenders before their European Championship in Deauville (September 17-20). The venue also hosts a British Premier League with classes up to grand prix—the entry of which includes Dujardin and her latest grand prix horse Barolo.

For more information, visit the Hartpury College website.

Junior and Young Rider Europeans

Germany and The Netherlands were again the main players at the Junior and Young Rider European Championships in Vidauban, France (July 1-5).

The Junior championship produced the same team medal order as last year; Germany was the convincing winner with an eight-mark margin over The Netherlands, with Denmark taking team bronze. The British team was eighth of the 15 teams taking part.

Three Germans headed the individual test: Hannah Erbe (Carlos) claimed gold, Semmieke Rotherberger (Geisha) silver and Paulina Holzknecht (Wells Fargo) bronze. Fourth-placed Spanish rising star Juan Matute Guimon Jr broke the German stranglehold by winning the freestyle with eight-year-old Dhannie. The 17-year-old from Madrid is a son of three-time Olympic rider and six-time Spanish National Champion Juan Matute Sr. For the last seven years, the family has travelled between Florida’s winter circuit and Europe in the summer.

Rothenberger, the youngest of the three talented children of international riders Sven and Gonnelien Rothenberger, added to her medal haul with another silver. The almost 16-year-old is in her first year of Juniors, having ended her international pony career with three gold medals at last year’s Europeans in Millstreet. Danish rider Victoria Vallentin (Anton) won the bronze.

Erin Williams, competing in her sixth consecutive European Championship (and third Junior), was the highest placed rider in both the team and the individual test. Erin, who is based in Derbyshire, was 18th of the 67 starters in the team test with Bolsan B, a nine-year-old gelding by Sandro Hit.

Germany also won the Young Rider team championship while The Netherlands bagged silver. It was a much closer affair with the standings decided by the last rider from each country: in the end, just 0.315 of a mark divided the two teams. Fourteen years after winning their last medal, Sweden returned to the podium to take bronze.

Dutch rider and former 2012 Junior European Champion Dana van Lierop, who was competing in her seventh European team and also posted the highest score in the team test, took the individual honours with her mare Equestricorns Walkuere. German rider Bianca Nowag, who clinched her team’s gold medal, won silver, while Sweden’s Marian Mattsson got bronze. Nowag, who is in her final year of Young Riders, won the freestyle.

The British team was seventh of the 16 teams and Charlotte Fry and Z Flemmenco were the best of the British in both tests. Yorkshire-based Fry was the only rider to get through to the freestyle, where she was 18th.

Image:  Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro at the London 2012 Olympic Dressage by Equestrian Commonswiki / CC BY 3.0

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