Pidgley wins Gold at FEI Young Rider European Championships
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Annabella Pidgley and Espe have made British dressage history by winning Individual gold at the Young Rider European Championships, taking place this week in Budapest region - Pilisjászfalu, Hungary. An exceptional new PB of 76.941% comfortably captured the European title and first ever individual medal by a British athlete at an FEI Dressage Young Rider European Championships.
Having already spearheaded GBR to team bronze, Annabella (18) and Sarah Pidgley’s exceptional mare, Espe, took the premier position on the Young Rider Individual podium by a margin of more than one percent ahead of Germany’s Valentina Pistner with Flamboyant OLD (75.559%) who won silver, and German world number one, Jana Lang with Baron (74.059%) who claimed bronze.
Denmark’s Alexander Yde Helgstrand set the early benchmark yesterday on day one of Individual competition with a score of 73.529%, bettered only by Pistner and Lang who edged ahead of the Dane to make up the overnight top three. The Netherlands’ Shanna Baars and Farzana G followed closely on 73.529% and, today, Denmark’s Sophia Ludvigsen and Blue Hors Elliott put up a strong fight with 73.206%, but still the provisional podium remained unchanged.
Drawn to go as the penultimate rider in the final session this morning, and with everything to play for, young Brit, Annabella displayed nerves of steel to rise to the challenge with calm and composure. And nine-year-old Espe (Escolar x Dimaggio), pictured below, answered every question asked of her, showing a perfectly-mixed cocktail of technical execution, power and relaxation throughout their ride.
"My test today went really well and Espe was really with me in the arena, even though there was a lot of pressure and quite a big atmosphere," commented Annabella.
"We really managed to improve our canter pirouettes from the team test, which I was really happy with," she explained. "And she always tries her absolute hardest. She's been amazing this week and she's felt incredible, and that resulted in us getting a personal best and taking the gold medal, which is really special since this our first season in Young Riders.
"I'm really happy," she continued. "It's our first Young Rider European Championships and to come away with the first individual Young Rider medal in British dressage history, and that being a gold medal, was quite incredible."
Annabella later took to social media to say; “Simply speechless. A gold medal today at the European Championships for myself and our beautiful mare Espe. Achieving 76.94% meant that Espe and I became the first British combination to medal in Young Riders at the Europeans. A dream come true to become European Champion.
“Thank you to my family, my groom Kerri (Dyte), my sponsors, Charlotte (Dujardin) and all behind the scenes who make this possible for me. I am so grateful to have you by my side.
“But most importantly to my best friend Espe, thank you for being such a joy to ride today and for giving your heart to all that we do together. I love you more than words. We enjoy this moment together.”
The entire British team, already with the team bronze medal under their belt, have ridden beautiful tests over the past two days of individual competition, with Annabella, Jessie and India each earning a coveted place in tomorrow morning’s Freestyle finale with another set of FEI medals due to be awarded immediately after.
European Championship debutant Lily Laughton (19), although narrowly missing out on a chance to dance tomorrow morning, provided an impressive start to the Brits’ campaign yesterday, scoring 69.235% with the former Danish team horse Skovborgs Romadinov, who is owned by Alicia Laughton. Lily and the talented 17-year-old gelding, pictured above, display heaps of potential together. The duo did a super job to deliver a well-presented test showing much quality in front of judges Vincenzo Truppa (ITA), Eva-Maria Vint-Warmington (EST), Olivier Smeets (BEL), Gabriela Valerianova (CZE) and Elke Ebert (GER).
“So proud of Romadi today in the Individual Test to score a PB of 69.2% to lie in seventh overnight,” said Lily on social media. “He gave me the most amazing feeling and I am so pleased with two super scores at our first European Championships. Thank you so much to Peter (Storr) for warming me up and everyone here for your support.”
Jessie McConkey (21) and Lady Gaga (Quaterback x Solos Landwind), pictured above, competing at their fifth European Championships together, performed with style to post a score of 70.530% at the early stage of the competition. Lady Gaga shows such power, cadence and regularity in her work. A couple of minor glitches were costly, though the quality, including impressive lines of changes, brought in plenty of the higher marks for this fabulous partnership who will no doubt be looking forward to tomorrow’s freestyle.
Eighteen-year-old India Durman-Mills and the 14-year-old KWPN gelding, Escade (by Jazz), pictured below, who were part of the medal-winning Junior team at Hartpury last year, continued to show light work of the step up to Young Riders. India and ‘Eddie’, who is owned by Verity Saul, presented an assured and consistent Young Rider Individual Test today, with super lines of changes that had the judges reaching for the higher marks, for a final mark of 69.265%.
India took to social media afterwards to say; “Phew, I remembered to count today! After my mistake in the 3s for the team test, I am happy to report that all changes were clean and on the right stride today, meaning we’ve gained the score to secure our position in the freestyle tomorrow.”
Competition continues tomorrow morning with the Freestyle starting at 08:00 (07:00 BST). The Freestyle is open to the best 18 individually placed riders from the Individual competition, though only the top three from each nation may participate.
British Dressage congratulates Annabella, Jessie, India, Lily, and Chef d’Equipe Tom Hobday, on their successes so far. Thank you to the owners, grooms and all those behind the scenes who work hard to support these combinations.
Individual top ten and British rider placings
1. Annabella Pidgley and Espe, 76.941% (GBR)
2. Valentina Pistner and Flamboyant OLD, 75.559% (GER)
3. Jana Lang and Baron, 74.059% (GER)
4. Alexander Yde Helgstrand and Belantis, 73.529% (DEN)
5. Shanna Baars and Farzana G, 73.265% (NED)
6. Sophia Ludvigsen and Blue Hors Elliott, 73.206% (DEN)
7. Frederikke Gram Jacobsen and Ryvangs Zafina, 71.559% (DEN)
8. Robin Heiden and Gasmonkey, 71.471% (NED)
9. Anna Middelberg and Blickfang HC, 71.412% (GER)
10. Kristian Würtz Green and Bovbjergs Zhivago, 71.206% (DEN)
13. Jessica McConkey and Lady Gaga, 70.530% (GBR)
18. India Durman-Mills and Escade, 69.265% (GBR)
19. Lily Laughton and Skovborgs Romadinov, 69.235% (GBR)
Photo © Łukasz Kowalski