Freestyle Silver for Pidgley at FEI Junior European Championships
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British Junior Annabella Pidgley has today won Freestyle silver at the FEI European Championships for Juniors and Young Riders at Hartpury in Gloucestershire (25 – 31 July 2022). Jessie McConkey concluded her exceptional week with fifth place in the Young Rider Freestyle while Sophie Wallace and Anna Dalrymple both impressed to sit 12th and 13th in their respective classes amongst Europe’s best.
Annabella, the 2021 Individual and Freestyle silver medallist, competing at her second Junior European Championships, added another silver medal to her collection in this afternoon’s Junior Freestyle competition. Partnered by the exciting young mare, Espe (Escolar x Dimaggio), 17-year-old Annabella earned a tremendous score of 77.600% to take her place on the podium between Denmark’s Sophia Boje Obel Jørgensen with Brilliant (77.695%) and Mathilde Juglaret with Caporal de Massa for France (77.225%).
After spearheading Great Britain to a team bronze medal on Wednesday, this new partnership continues to display their immense potential. Individual bronze yesterday followed by Freestyle silver today takes Annabella’s individual medal tally to four and gives more than a glimpse of what’s possible for this new partnership in the future.
This afternoon, in the cooling summer rain, Annabella and Espe delivered an outstanding freestyle test. Sarah Pidgley’s mare, at just eight years old, shows maturity and a tranquil confidence beyond her years, equipping her well for the big stage. Today, riding to an instrumental Taylor Swift compilation, Annabella and Espe showed powerful, elastic half passes and great control as the mare moved fluidly from extended canter to walk, into walk pirouette. Score sheets brimming with eights, seven 8.5s plus a nine for music and interpretation put the British pairing firmly in the hunt for a medal, bettered only by Jørgensen two horses later.
“It’s exceeded all my expectations,” said a delighted Annabella following the medal ceremony this afternoon. “She’s [Espe] only eight years old, and she really just pulled it out the bag. I can’t believe I have a silver medal.
“Today she really danced with the music. She heard the music and she really picked herself up. It felt amazing to ride. It felt to me, one of our best tests yet.”
About Espe, Annabella said, “She’s the sweetest - one of my favourite horses to ride. She always gives her all, and she’s just so much fun to work with. We’ve had her since she was six years old, but she was in Denmark with my trainer Cathrine [Dufour] until she came over here in March, so it’s a relatively new partnership.
“She’s still developing and I’m still developing, so we’re learning and growing together,” continued Annabella. “She’ll have a bit of a holiday – she deserves that and she is a bit tired - and then we’ll start working towards Young Riders as this was my last year in Juniors. It’ll mean stepping up to PSG, but she’s more than ready. It’s very exciting.”
Great Britain’s newest dressage star Sophie Wallace presented a test to be proud of with Ursula Bechtolsheimer and Laura Tomlinson’s delightful Westphalian mare, Rosalie B (Rubin Royal x Newcastle). Sophie, at 15 and astonishingly in only her first year competing in dressage, continued her championship debut with a freestyle awarded 72.370% from the panel comprising Kirsten Soegaard (DEN) at E, Lars Andersson (SWE) at H, Isobel Wessels (GBR) at C, Elke Ebert (GER) at M and Jean-Michel Roudier (FRA) at B.
She rode the 16-year-old mare with composure and skill, the horse 'with' her all the way, and it was obvious that they enjoy a happy partnership. The final score of 72.370% sealed them the excellent achievement of 12th place.
Myles Graham’s skilful riding aboard Caroline Bell’s Nibeley Union Hit (Nibeley Union Jack x Sandro Hit) has made an impression all week, culminating in him securing a place in the final stage of competition at his very first Europeans. Today, the duo had some expensive mistakes in their freestyle programme, which cost some marks, but still they earned a creditable 69.810% to complete their championships in great style.
The British Young Rider trio through to today’s Freestyle, featuring the top 18 combinations (maximum of three riders per nation) from 49 starters over the past two days’ Individual competition, displayed impressive riding and showmanship in front of the home crowd at Hartpury.
Drawn fourth to go, Great Britain's Anna Dalrymple (19) and Vagabond de Massa (Rieto x Xaquiro), who were placed 16th in the Individual competition, rose up the leader board to 13th place today with an expressive and well-executed performance to their Tom Hunt-produced Kung Fu Panda programme, earning a super score of 73.813%.
Anna has ridden with intelligence and maturity all week on her sterling European Championship debut partnered by Maxine Vainio’s talented Lusitano, Vagabond de Massa. Today, Anna presented a beautifully ridden, strong programme, showing four-time and three-time changes on turning lines, powerful and athletic half passes, measured pirouettes and great connection throughout. After their final halt and a big hug for Vagabond, Anna was clearly moved as she left the arena to the huge applause of the crowd.
Caitlin Burgess and Chocotof have impressed all week. Best of the Brits individually in eighth place in the Team Test on Wednesday on a score of 72.765%, and 12th in the Individual (72.831%) coming into today’s Freestyle, they really have celebrated the championships of their career so far.
The pair’s performance today once again showed their trademark harmony and poise. Riding to an enjoyable music programme, featuring Rudimental’s These Days, they showed super work marred, however, by a couple of expensive errors – one in the trot half pass and another in their four-time changes on a turning line. A final score of 71.831% was awarded from the judging panel comprising Maarten van der Heijden (NED) at E, Evi Eisenhardt (GER) at H, Stephen Clarke (GBR) at C and Alice Schwab (AUT) at B, putting Caitlin and “Stan” a creditable 17th position amongst Europe’s best.
Jessie McConkey’s sensational week continued with another personal best performance and a phenomenal fifth place aboard her powerful dance partner - the 13-year-old mare, Lady Gaga (Quaterback x Solos Landwind). Fifth to go after the midway break, Jessie and “Millie” once again entered the Hartpury arena full of confidence and conviction. Riding to an emotive music programme and starting with their canter tour, they rode through a clever floorplan showcasing the mare’s flamboyance to great effect.
Millie’s trot, with its ample airtime and metronome-like rhythm, was awarded plenty of eights from the judges, as was her canter. Jessie completed her test one-handed in extended trot, into halt, immediately followed by rapturous applause from her teammates, support crew and the enthusiastic crowd at Hartpury. As the score of 77.381% was announced – their third PB of the week – they rocketed into the silver provisional medal position behind Austria’s Felicita Simonic and Immowert’s Ivar (78.313%).
With start times drawn within groups in reverse order of merit, Jessie’s strongest challengers were yet to come. As the race for medals heated up, Germany’s Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel and Zinq Hugo FH (Spielberg x San Remo) took the lead on 78.900% before Austria’s Paul Jöbstl and Bodyguard 49 (Burlington x Pik L.) posted a new PB of 79.206%. Jöbstl, a double individual bronze medallist at the 2021 Junior European Championships with this horse, rode a complex, well-executed floorplan to an Elton John compilation, squeezing the British contenders out of medal contention.
Last to go, Germany’s Helena Schmitz-Morkramer took charge riding DSP Lifestyle into the gold medal spot with a new PB of 80.419% pushing Jessie and Lady Gaga a little down the leader board, but still in an admirable fifth place.
1. Sophia Boje Obel Jørgensen and Brilliant, 77.695% (DEN)
2. Annabella Pidgley and Espe, 77.600% (GBR)
3. Mathilde Juglaret and Caporal de Massa, 77.225% (FRA)
4. Allegra Schmitz-Morkramer and Libertad, 76.520% (GER)
5. Carolina Miesner and Exclusiv, 76.485% (GER)
6. Jill Bogers and Lennox US, 75.040% (NED)
7. Rowena Weggelaar and Don Quichot, 74.825% (NED)
8. Micky Schelstraete and Knight Rider, 74.355% (NED)
9. Tallulah Lynn Nater and Quando Unico FRH, 74.240% (SUI)
10. Lana-Pinou Baumgürtel and Zinq Founder FH, 73.930% (GER)
11. Laura Lausten and Fairy Tale, 73.885% (SWE)
12. Sophie Wallace and Rosalie B, 72.370% (GBR)
13. Natalia Plata and Dolcetto, 72.295% (POL)
14. Emma Kåberg and Carla, 72.100% (SWE)
15. Robynne Graf and Domino, 70.145% (SUI)
16. Myles Graham and Nibeley Union Hit, 69.810% (GBR)
17. Florentina Jöbstl and Floortje, 64.525% (AUT)
18. Thilde Rude Hare and Fred the Red, 63.660% (DEN)
Young Rider Freestyle
1. Helena Schmitz-Morkramer and DSP Lifestyle, 80.419% (GER)
2. Paul Jöbstl and Bodyguard 49, 79.206% (AUT)
3. Lucie-Anouk Baumgürtel and Zinq Hugo FH, 78.900% (GER)
4. Felicita Simonic and Immowert’s Ivar, 78.313% (AUT)
5. Jessica McConkey and Lady Gaga, 77.381% (GBR)
6. Robin Heiden and Gasmonkey, 76.781% (NED)
7. Jana Lang and Baron, 76.606% (GER)
8. Alexander Yde Helgstrand and Belantis, 76.531% (DEN)
9. Frederikke Gram Jacobsen and Ryvangs Zafina, 76.150% (DEN)
10. Hedda Thunberg and Diva, 75.550% (SWE)
11. Sophia Ludvigsen and Blue Hors Elliott, 75.481% (DEN)
12. Sebastião Lucas Lopes and Inquieto Lezirias, 73.950% (POR)
13. Anna Dalrymple and Vagabond de Massa, 73.813% (GBR)
14. Linnéa Holmgren and QC Sir Dennis, 73.713% (SWE)
15. Amber van den Steen and Fame, 73.381% (BEL)
16. Brandy Bos and Florett W, 72.156% (BEL)
17. Caitlin Burgess and Chocotof, 71.831% (GBR)
18. Jette de Jong and Heavenly Charming, 70.281% (BEL)
Photo © Kevin Sparrow
Further photos to follow