FEI Pony European Championships: Dahl and Games qualify for Freestyle
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British Pony riders Mette Dahl and Sofia Games have both qualified for tomorrow’s Freestyle finale at the FEI Pony European Championships in Strzegom, Poland, while Ruby Hughes and Lauren Geraghty finished well with promising performances.
The mood in the British camp has been buoyant this week following a fantastic fourth place in the team competition for Great Britain, behind Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. The past two days have focused on the battle for Individual medal honours, with Europe’s elite Pony riders going head-to-head on the big stage of the Morawa hippodrome. Having had all four Brits drawn to ride on the first day of the Individual competition, today was all about watching the competition unfold to reveal who would make the final cut for tomorrow’s Freestyle finale.
Yesterday, all four British riders did a sterling job once again. Our first combination to go was Ruby Hughes (14) with Shirley Rixon’s stunning palomino mare Hilkens Showgirl (Dreidimensional x Champion de Luxe) - pictured above. This super combination showed high-quality work, despite the nine-year-old mare showing some costly tension at times.
Plenty of solid marks, including an eight for the final centre line, resulted in a score of 69.865% awarded by the judging panel comprising Carlo Lopes (POR) at E, Barbara Ardu (ITA) at H, Alban Tissot (FRA) at C, Isobel Wessels (GBR) at M and Agnieszka Majewska (POL) at B.
Immediately behind Ruby on the start list was teammate Sofia Games (14) with Katie Oliver-Games’ German-bred gelding Next Black Magic (Nabucco R x FS Pour L’Amour). This new partnership (pictured above) has shown much promise in their short time together. A double win at Wellington CDI in June put them firmly on the map, form that they have certainly maintained here at the European Championships.
A well-presented, balanced and precise test earned a plethora of 7.5s and several eights, arriving at a new international PB of 71.567% to take them directly into the provisional seventh spot.
Mette Dahl (16) and George Clooney B.S (pictured), who delivered an outstanding test on Thursday towards Great Britain’s team campaign, were next down the centre line in the hunt for Individual competition honours. A fluent and expressive test from this partnership of three years was awarded 72.540% to propel them into provisional sixth.
Remarkably, all five judges had them on 72-plus%, with the judges at E, H, C and B giving an identical percentage score of 72.432%, with no less than thirteen eights awarded for an athletic and assured performance.
The final combination forward for Great Britain was Lauren Geraghty with WS Jackson, her 11-year-old British bred Chiskin Jaguar x His Highness gelding (pictured above). This talented pony showed occasional inconsistencies in the connection, which was costly; but nonetheless, he displayed many super qualities, ridden skilfully by 16-year-old Lauren, for a final score of 68.271% - a very pleasing performance for a first-time European Championship appearance.
Germany’s Lilly Marie Collin and Cosmo Callidus NRW were overnight leaders on 77.865% setting themselves as the ones to beat. Mette Dahl and George Clooney B.S were provisional sixth after day one of Individual competition, with Sofia Games and Next Black Magic ninth. In 16th place overnight was Ruby Hughes with Hilkens Showgirl, and in 22nd was Lauren Geraghty with WS Jackson.
After the second day of Individual competition, Lilly Marie Collin with Callidus NRW held their provisional lead to claim the Individual gold medal for Germany. Mette and George Clooney B.S placed 13th, with Sofia and Next Black Magic 17th – both riders securing a coveted spot in tomorrow’s Freestyle. Ruby and Hilkens Showgirl concluded their Championships with a creditable 28th place while Lauren and WS Jackson achieved a solid 35th place out of a total of 62 riders.
The Pony Freestyle gets underway at 09:00 (08:00 BST) on Sunday morning. Click here for details of how to watch and follow the competition live.
Pony Individual Test – top five and British placings
1. Lilly Marie Collin and Cosmo Callidus, 77.865% (GER)
2. Mia Allegra Lohe and Tovdals Golden Future Imperial, 76.243% (GER)
3. Julie Sofie Schmitz-Heinen and Carleo Go 75.460% (GER)
4. Josephine Gert Nielsen and Kastanienhof Crimson Gold, 75.081% (DEN)
5. Maddy Dijkshoorn and Boogie de L’Aube, 74.784% (NED)
13. Mette Dahl and George Clooney B.S, 72.540% (GBR)
17. Sofia Games and Next Black Magic, 71.594% (GBR)
28. Ruby Hughes and Hilkens Showgirl, 69.865% (GBR)
35. Lauren Geraghty and WS Jackson, 68.271% (GBR)
Photo © Adam Fanthorpe