Day one: FEI European Championships for Juniors & Young Riders
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With horse inspection complete and the Championships ribbon cut at a spectacular opening ceremony in the Hartpury Arena, four British riders took to the arena for part one of the team medal competition.
With the British team drawn second to go out of thirteen nations coming forward to contest the Junior competition, it was an early start for young Myles Graham who took to the arena at 09.38 to make his championship debut on board Caroline Bell's Nibeley Union Hit. At just fifteen years old, Myles presented a test beyond his years showing composure, balance and precise riding in the pathfinder position. The judges panel - Elke Ebert (E), Kirsten Soegaard (H), Lars Andersson (C), Jean-Michel Roudier (M) and Isobel Wessels (B) - were united in their rewarding marks, with a final score sheet replete with sevens. Myles and 'Una's' highlights were shown in the extensions across all three paces, as well as a five-star final halt which warranted an eight from FEI 5* judge Ebert (GER). Myles' test earned a total mark of 69.667%, a creditable performance for a first step up to the big stage.
Fellow debutant Sophie Wallace took to the arena in the early afternoon sunshine and shone on board Laura Tomlinson and Mrs Bechtolsheimer's radiant Rosalie B, who looked a picture in her new role as partner to the talented Junior rider. Sophie also showed skill above and beyond her fifteen years and kept her composure in front of an enthusiastic home crowd to score 70.273%; high points came for flying changes, expressive extended trots and the general impression collective. In just her first full season of dressage, it's hats off to the Stroud-based rider who sits in a provisional fifth place individually overnight.
A morning session abundant with good riding and high quality horse power saw Germany's Rose Oatley driving Germany into a provisional lead whilst Great Britain hold fourth, just one point away from a bronze medal at this stage in the competition. India Durman-Mills and Escade take to the floor at 09.08 to kick off the team medal decider, before anchor Annabella Pidgley presents her championship debutante Espe at 11.28.
The Young Rider duo setting the scene on day one gave the hosting nation supporters looking on from the Hartpury hill something to cheer about as two stellar rides leave the team on the provisional podium at the day's close.
Yate-local Maddy Frewin (19) may have only partnered the exuberant Eagle Nouvelle for a matter of months, but their partnership blossomed in the Hartpury Arena as they showcased immaculate canter pirouettes, expressive flying changes and a ground-covering extended walk. An experienced ground jury consisting of Stephen Clarke (E), Jane Weatherwax (H), Evi Eisenhardt (C), Alice Schwab (M) and Maarten Van Der Heijden (B), rewarded Maddy and Hannah Dovey's superb gelding with a score of 69.971%, mirroring Junior rider Myles' solid start to the team campaign.
The second Young Rider to take to the stage showed her European Championship experience and mettle to produce a personal best score; Jessie McConkey (pictured) and Lady Gaga (Quaterback x Solos Landwind) held their nerve as the final combination to go on the first day of action with a favourable draw for Great Britain, achieving 72.235% to the delight of her fellow team mates and supporters. With no less than 18 eights notched up throughout their test, Jessie and 'Millie' demonstrated a powerful, energetic trot tour and two polished lines of tempi changes - which were duly rewarded by the watchful panel.
Both British young riders enjoy top ten provisional placings overnight in the individual standings, with Jessie in fourth and Maddy in seventh, whilst the leaderboard was topped by Germany's Helena Schmitz-Morkramer and DSP Lifestyle who produced the highest score on the opening day of competition, an impressive 75.206%. Germany top the podium provisionally, but all's to play for in the second part of the team medal contest on day two.
British supporters will be out in force to cheer home Anna Dalrymple and Caitlin Burgess who begin their week at the FEI European Championships at 10.56 and 12.52.
Junior team standings
Competition sponsored by Andrews Bowen
1. Germany - 143.545
2. Netherlands - 141.061
3. Austria - 140.849
4. Great Britain - 139.940
Young Rider team standings
Competition sponsored by Hartpury University
1. Germany - 149.588
2. Great Britain - 142.206
3. Denmark - 141.853
Photo © Kevin Sparrow Photography