Gold for Werth, top ten for Hughes in Rotterdam
- Written By:
The climax of the Longines FEI Dressage European Championships proved as hot as the August weather this afternoon in Rotterdam. Germany were expected to dominate with their three leading ladies but what would the medal order be?
Jessica von Bredow–Werndl firmly laid the challenge down with TSF Dalera BB with a grand freestyle display to post 89.10% but Isabell Werth and Bella Rose have just dominated this week. As their test went progressed it was looking tight and with the score shooting to over 90% and then down to the low 80s… As Isabell progressed to her final halt in one-handed passage with crowd in perfect hand clap rhythm it was clear this was going to be close…90.87% it was.
Dorothee Schneider riding Showtime was the remaining realistic threat and their test was truly impressive – powerful, artistic and with good harmony. The wait for the final score felt like ages…90….point 56% - just missing the gold to ensure Isabell defended her Euro crown.
The two British representatives had truly mixed fortunes… Carl Hester was first up with his own, Ann Cory and Lady Anne Evans’s Hawtins Delicato. ‘Del’ came into the atmospheric arena which was packed to the rafters and looked like he could breathe fire – definitely more electric than his two previous tests. Carl had chosen to use an older freestyle featuring ‘Cry Me a River’, music from The Last Mohicans and God save the King which was made famous by Uthopia.
It was technically difficult but on a good day, nothing that is beyond Del’s capability. But today, he wasn’t really playing ball and even the brilliance of Mr Hester couldn’t coax high scoring work from him. The final score was 70.73% which left them in an eventual 14th place.
“Today was another lesson learned with him. He’s been so good this week I gave him an easy day yesterday and he warmed up well but then he became crispy around the edge and he wasn’t as rideable as he’s been. Am I disappointed? Yes, of course but for me, it’s all about the Grand Prix and the Special,” Carl said.
As is his way, Carl was still philosophical; “It’s been a brilliant week for the team disregarding the fact we lost a medal. For Lottie and Gareth to come here and perform as they have is really exciting. We had an ‘easy’ silver and closer to gold than we expected. We have four great horses and four great riders ahead of next year and now we’ve just got to pull it together and get it right at the same time.”
Gareth Hughes followed immediately with his own, wife Rebecca and Julia Hornig’s Classic Briolinca and they were brimming with confidence after their stunning Grand Prix Special test. Riding to a new programme set to music from the hit TV historical time travel series Outlander, the duo looked hot with temperatures around 30 degrees and the electric environment (which Gareth later described as being ‘like a cauldron’) but ready to perform. They didn’t quite hit the first halt and salute, brief really but then the magic began. Expressive half passes, superb piaffe work including pirouettes and a half pass zig zag, and oodles of great canter pirouettes wowed the audience. Despite the tough conditions it was a strong performance and earned 80.12% - a new PB by nearly four percent. Amazingly, this was just their fourth international Freestyle together.
Gareth explained; “There’s so much noise in there! It’s hot too and there’s lots of movement as people are fanning themselves. She got strong on me but I knew we could pick up points on her passage and pirouettes. I decided to go with a simpler routine before we came here and during the week I thought maybe I should have gone for something tougher but now I’m glad I stuck with it! It was tough in there – if horses can cope in there, they can cope anywhere! To score a PB in each of my tests has been amazing and as have all involved with the team this week.”
Their final place was tenth – if anyone had told Gareth he’d be the tenth best in Europe at the end of a long week, he wouldn’t have believed it. However the Warwickshire rider has ridden like the professional he is and produced results all knew he could.
So what’s next for him and the Trento B mare? “I probably won’t campaign her much over the winter indoors but I’ll speak with the Selectors to work on a plan for next year and then just hope they say ‘konnichiwa’ to a place on the team,” he said hopefully. Bring on Tokyo…
Thanks to the team behind the team from Team GBR who which is only possible through our vital funding form UK Sport, via the National Lottery and to our owners and grooms who support these combinations and enable the dressage public to enjoy their performances and make us proud.