British Juniors earn top placings in nip and tuck Individual contest

  • Written By: British Dressage
  • Published: Sat, 22 Jul 2023 14:00 GMT

The contest for the Individual medals at the FEI Junior European Championships (18 – 23 July 2023) proved almost too close to call, with the four British riders producing exceptional results in a showdown of the highest standard.

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In the Garden of Eden setting of Gestüt Schafhof in Kronberg, two days of top-drawer competition took place as Europe's brightest Junior talents vied for a place in the history books, and the coveted FEI European Championship Individual medals. German domination would be the central theme, as the team champions continued to prove their prowess in this age category - where as a nation they've now collected no fewer than 32 gold medals in the history of the event. In the Individual competition, it was team test topping Rose Oatley to take the top step of the podium for the home nation, her test on board Kristy and Rosalind Oatley's Sommernacht 7 soaring clear of the field with a new personal best of 78.030%. Compatriots Allegra Schmitz-Morkramer and Lana-Pinou Baumgurtel completed a top three lockout, with two equally as impressive scores. 

Despite three matching flags flying at the prize giving, the picture could've captured that of numerous nations, as less than a single percent separated the positions from bronze to ninth place. Dressage is a game of margins, and Britain can be proud to have had key players well and truly in the mix. 

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Team anchor man Myles Graham had to once again demonstrate his cool temperament under pressure as the final rider to present on day two of the Individual competition; and hold his nerve he did, showing Caroline Bell's British-bred mare Nibeley Union Hit to her best in front of Marietta Almasy (FRA), Alice Schwab (AUT), Hans Voser (SUI), Katrina Wüst (GER) and Agnieszka Majewska (POL). The sixteen year old rider from Swindon, Wiltshire, demonstrated his talent and composure to earn a new personal best score of 73.971% for fifth place, just 0.117% away from the podium. The judges praised Myles and 'Una's' balanced collected trot work, sweeping canter half passes and consistent flying changes; the halts at the start and end of the test notched up five 8s, and the general impression achieved four 8s and one 8.5, summarising a test that was a joy to watch. 

Despite an early draw on day one, Mette Dahl joined Myles inside the top ten, placing tenth with Fiona Bigwood's purebred Lusitano gelding Caporal de Massa (Rieto x Xaquiro). The combination, pictured top, have come of age at this championships, with their relatively new partnership flourishing in the botanical setting. Expressive canter work, bold trot extensions and a correct walk tour were the highlights in a well-presented test that was duly rewarded with a personal best score of 72.412%. 

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On board the full brother of Mette's ride, team newcomer Isla Sully also had a long wait to see the final standings following her ride on day one with Vagabond de Massa. The powerhouse bay gelding makes a perfect partnership with fourteen year old Isla, who's also campaigned at FEI Pony level this season with Cassandra Sully's Reitland's Don Totilas, and the pair proved their mettle again in the Individual test with another assured performance. The half volte combinations in trot, ridden twice from each rein, were a particular highlight in Isla's test, as the young rider was able to show Vagabond's expression and balance on a complex line; the half passes achieved positive marks, as well as the simple change and flying changes. The eventual score would be another personal best for the Glastonbury-based teen at her first FEI European Championships, with 71.765% resulting in 13th place. 

Ruby Hughes joined Myles in the final group of riders on day two, and also showed great resolve under the intensity of the competition. Classic Goldstrike (Tango x Krack C) and Ruby create an elegant picture, with the tall chestnut gelding's fluid paces shown superbly by his young jockey. A spook on the opening centre line was overshadowed by some high quality work, with Ruby putting the early hindrance well behind her and maximising her time in front of the judges to score 69.853%. The flying changes were a standout movement for the combination, collecting a plethora of eights, a sure sign of what's to come in the future for this combination still in the early stages of their partnership. 

Myles, Mette and Isla progress to tomorrow's Freestyle final, with much to look forward to after the great efforts displayed in the team and individual contests. 

British Dressage congratulates Myles, Ruby, Isla and Mette, and all the horses’ owners, as well as Chef d’Equipe Nina Boex, Coach Advisor Peter Storr, Performance Manager Caroline Bell and all the dedicated teams behind the scenes, including grooms Sally Williams (Caporal de Massa), Angharad Harries (Classic Goldstrike), Tammy Thornton (Nibeley Union Hit) and Tegan Jones (Vagabond de Massa).

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Individual top ten and British rider placings
1. Rose Oatley and Sommernacht 7, 78.030% (GER)
2. Allegra Schmitz-Morkramer and Libertad, 76.794% (GER)
3. Lana-Pinou Baumgürtel and Zinq Emma FH, 74.088% (GER)
4. Florentina Jöbstl and Bodyguard 49, 73.971% (AUT)
5. Myles Graham and Nibeley Union Hit, 73.941% (GBR)
6. Anna Dupuy Pelardy and Jarina des Vallees, 73.882% (FRA)
7. Josephine Ruppert and Bella Donna 149, 73.853% (GER)
8. Annabelle Rehn and Vestervangs Garson, 73.530% (DEN)
9. Robynne Graf and Domino, 73.176% (SUI)
10. Mette Dahl and Caporal de Massa, 72.412% (GBR)
13. Isla Sully and Vagabond de Massa, 71.765% (GBR)
25. Ruby Hughes and Classic Goldstrike, 69.853% (GBR)