Double silver for Pidgley at FEI Junior European Championships
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At the weekend, Great Britain’s Annabella Pidgley made British dressage history as the nation’s first ever individual medallist at an FEI Junior European Championships. In Oliva Nova, Spain (05-11 July 2021), her exceptional performances won both Individual and Freestyle silver, whilst our Junior and Young Rider teams showed much promise on the European stage.
Annabella (16), competing at her first Junior European Championships, achieved the highest score over two days of team competition before going on to clinch her double silver success with Sultan des Paluds FRH, the French-bred Hanoverian gelding owned by her mother, Sarah Pidgley.
This might be a brand new partnership but Annabella and Sultan made the work look effortless. An exceptional, seamless ride in the Junior team test, showing super expression and harmony, earned 75.45% to place Annabella and Sultan at the top of the leaderboard, giving an indication of what was to come over the next three days of individual competition.
Holly Kerslake and Extasia, and Gemma Owen with Sirius Black both put in solid performances for 68.12% and 67.81% respectively and Mette Dahl with Florina 146 got their first Junior Europeans under their belt. The British quartet, all on their FEI Junior European Championships debut, achieved sixth place out of 16 in the team championship which saw a Germany, Netherlands, Denmark one-two-three. Sadly, Mette’s ride Florina 146 had a reaction to the sand and under vet’s advice was withdrawn from the Individual competition.
The battle for the Junior Individual test commenced on Friday morning, concluding Saturday, and there was great anticipation amongst the British camp in Spain and those back home. Our Juniors have won team medals but never have we had a rider breach the individual medal zone. Could this be the watershed year? As Annabella and Sultan came down the centre line, it very much looked as though it could be.
For a second time they delivered, this time with 75.38% to secure silver, only beaten by Germany’s triple Pony European Champion, Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel and the nine-year-old KWPN gelding, Zinq Hugo FH (Spielberg x San Remo). Taking bronze was Austria’s Paul Jöbstl and the magnificent Bodyguard 49 (Burlington x Pik L.), another combination that was a joy to watch throughout this competition.
The podium placings remained the same for Sunday’s Junior Freestyle where Europe’s top 18 went head-to-head in front of Olivier Smeets (BEL) at E, Magnus Ringmark (SWE) at H, Elke Ebert (GER) at C, Alice Schwab (AUT) at M and Hans Voser (SUI) at B. The British challengers’ freestyle programme, choreographed to music from Burlesque, achieved a huge score of 80.11% to sit her between Baumgürtel and Jöbstl.
“I’m really overwhelmed and so happy,” said Annabella, after her return home to the UK. “Although I’d always dreamed of it, I never thought I’d get a medal in my first year of Juniors.
“He came out on Team Test day feeling the best ever, as if to say ‘we’re going for the win’,” she continued. “He’s such a showman - he’s just amazing, and then to get a PB every day was incredible.”
Eleven-year-old Sultan des Paluds FRH (Soliman de Hus x De Niro), a silver medallist at the FEI World Young Breeding Championships as a seven-year-old, was bought by Sarah Pidgley earlier this year on the recommendation of Annabella’s trainer of five years, Cathrine Dufour.
“Due to coronavirus, we couldn’t travel to view him,” says Annabella. “So Cathrine rode him at Helgstrand and we bought him having just seen the video. Cathrine knows me so well and we like the same type in a horse - we really like them very similar. She knew straight away that he would suit me, and we put so much trust in her that we took the risk of buying a horse I’d never sat on,” A risk that has certainly paid off. “He’s definitely a horse I’ve clicked with straight away. He’s such a good horse with a good brain - absolutely amazing in his mind.”
Caitlin Burgess and Chocotof (pictured above) were best of the Brits in the FEI Young Rider European Championships, achieving a super 13th place in the Team Test (69.23%) and 15th in the Individual (69.61%) to earn themselves a coveted place in Sunday’s Freestyle final. Unfortunately, however, Chocotof didn’t make it through the second horse inspection, which brought their campaign to an early conclusion. To make the cut for the Freestyle is a huge achievement at FEI Championship level so this was a big blow, taken very philosophically by Caitlin.
Summarising her week, she took to social media to say, “He has been absolutely incredible this week and I'm so so proud of what we have achieved together to come in the top 15 twice with a horse I trained myself at both of our first European Championships is beyond what I could have ever asked for! He has made my dreams come true and I will forever owe everything to him.”
Their two performances showed high quality work with their Team Test instrumental in securing Great Britain seventh place out of 14.
Young Rider combinations, Jessica McConkey with Lady Gaga (pictured above) and Charlotte McDowall with Alivia, achieved Team Test scores of 68.53% for 19th and 66.76% for 31st respectively. Jess placing an encouraging 25th in the Young Rider Individual with 67.85% whilst Charlotte finished 47th. Uncharacteristic mistakes for Charlotte and ‘Livy’ kept their score in check at 64.32% but nonetheless they showed high quality work for the future.
British Dressage congratulates all the riders and horses, support staff, parents and everyone behind the scenes for a highly successful European Championships.
Results: top-five and British placings
FEI Junior Team Test
1. Annabella Pidgley and Sultan des Paluds FRH, 75.455% (GBR)
2. Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel and Zinq Hugo FH, 75.364% (GER)
3. Sanne van der Pols and Excellentie, 74.242% (NED)
4. Paul Jöbstl and Bodyguard 49, 73.273% (AUT)
5. Lena Merkt and Sarotti Mocca-Sahne, 73.212% (GER)
32. Holly Kerslake and Extasia, 68.121% (GBR)
39. Gemma Owen and Sirius Black, 67.818% (GBR)
62. Mette Dahl and Florina 146, 64.364% (GBR)
Junior Team placings
Gold – Germany, 73.859%
Silver – Netherlands, 72.697%
Bronze – Denmark, 71.828%
4. Switzerland, 71.091%
5. Belgium, 70.606%
6. Great Britain, 70.465%
FEI Junior Individual Test
Gold - Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel and Zinq Hugo FH, 76.529% (GER)
Silver - Annabella Pidgley and Sultan des Paluds FRH, 75.382% (GBR)
Bronze - Paul Jöbstl and Bodyguard 49, 74.647% (AUT)
4. Evie van Rooij and Don Tango B, 74.500% (NED)
5. Alexander Yde Helgstrand and Grevens Sa Va, 74.235% (DEN)
33. Holly Kerslake and Extasia, 68.500% (GBR)
46. Gemma Owen and Sirius Black, 66.941% (GBR)
FEI Junior Freestyle
Gold - Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel and Zinq Hugo FH, 82.045% (GER)
Silver - Annabella Pidgley and Sultan des Paluds FRH, 80.110% (GBR)
Bronze - Paul Jöbstl and Bodyguard 49, 79.060% (AUT)
4. Evi van Rooij and Don Tango B, 78.225% (NED)
5. Alexander Yde Helgstrand and Grevens Sa Va, 77.810% (DEN)
FEI Young Rider Team Test
1. Marten Luiten and Fynona, 77.677% (NED)
2. Milou Dees and Francesco, 74.000% (NED)
3. Thalia Rockx and Golden Dancer De La Fazenda, 73.853% (NED)
4. Luca Sophia Collin and Descolari, 73.118% (GER)
5. Helena Schmitz-Morkramer and DSP Lifestyle, 72.647% (GER)
13. Caitlin Burgess and Chocotof, 69.235% (GBR)
19. Jessica McConkey and Lady Gaga, 68.530% (GBR)
31. Charlotte McDowall and Alivia, 66.765% (GBR)
Young Rider Team placings
Gold: Netherlands, 225.530
Silver: Germany, 216.294
Bronze: Denmark, 211.295%
4. Spain, 210.236
5. Belgium, 205.530
7. Great Britain, 204.530
FEI Young Rider Individual
Gold: Marten Luiten and Fynona, 79.617% (NED)
Silver: Thalia Rockx and Golden Dancer De La Fazenda, 73.765% (NED)
Bronze: Luca Sophia Collin and Descolari, 73.470% (GER)
4. Sergio Moron Basoco and Farnham L, 72.912% (ESP)
5. Sara Hyrm and Skovborgs Romadinov, 72.853% (DEN)
15. Caitlin Burgess and Choctof, 69.618% (GBR)
25. Jessica McConkey and Lady Gaga, 67.853% (GBR)
47. Charlotte McDowall and Alivia, 64.323%
FEI Young Rider Freestyle
Gold: Marten Luiten and Fynona, 83.155% (NED)
Silver: Thalia Rockx and Golden Dancer De La Fazenda, 78.050% (NED)
Bronze: Milou Dees and Francesco, 78.005% (NED)
4. Sergio Moron Basoco and Farnham L, 76.935% (ESP)
5. Amber van den Steen and Fame, 74.530% (BEL)
Article will be updated with more photos from Oliva as soon as we have them.
Photo © Łukasz Kowalski
Words: British Dressage/Joanna Bowns