Charlotte Dujardin & Valegro

European Championships in Aachen: Charlotte Dujardin Wins Gold – New Record

Today was a day full of great performances and great drama. the Grand Prix Special at the European Championships in Aachen took place. In the group of the top riders Kristina Bröring-Sprehe had to show a good result with Desperados FRH. The rider from Dinklage succeeded: The pair’s performance was flawless, with outright highlights and always in contact with the bit – after their performance, their score of 83,067% provided them with the lead. If Valegro made flaws -like in the Grand Prix- it could be enough for Bröring-Sprehe to win gold, so everybody thought. Valegro had one flaw in the one-time changes, but in the end it was still good enough for gold. The KWPN gelding was more vigorous than in the Grand Prix and on top level in all aspects, that was crystal clear. The judges awarded numerous 10s: for the trot tour, the piaffes, the two-time changes and the transitions.
“After the whole thing that happened here last year and the flaws in the Grand Prix the day before yesterday it really wasn’t easy to ride into this atmosphere in Germany. I mean the audience obviously favours the Germans,” Dujadin said. “However, the audience also liked my performance. One could hear everything: how they held their breath and cried “ohhhh” to the flaw – I really enjoyed it.”
Already during the warm up Valegro felt good, so the old and new European Champion said. Actually so good that she knew she could risk something today. And when she came into the arena and heard the thunderous applause for Kristina Sprehe and saw the high score the British rider was even more incited. “It was no reason to be afraid,” so the gold-winning rider said, “I just wanted it even more.”
Kristina Bröring-Sprehe & Desperados

Kristina Bröring-Sprehe & Desperados

Kristina Bröring-Sprehe was more than happy with her silver medal : “Medals always are something special – if one gets one in the individual rating it has even more significance,” so the 28-year-old said. The last rider of the team rating had a better time riding her horse this time. “In the Grand Prix Despi still held his breath,” Bröring-Sprehe told. “Today he fought for me. He didn’t show any signs of fatigue. In the individual rating one has a more liberated feeling, nobody wants to fail in the team.”

Third place – and that was a surprise- went to Dutch Hans Peter Minderhoud and his Jazz son Glock’s Johnson TN. He won bronze with 79,034 percent, his first individual medal in a championship. However, for Minderhoud this medal also meant a certain “sacrifice”. The person everybody trusted to win a medal in the individual rating was his partner Edward Gal, especially after his sensational performance with Glock’s Undercover in the Grand Prix which left Gal in second place. Unfortunately this Grand Prix still seemed to influence the horse or, rather more the applause after the performance. It is widely known that the KWPN gelding is sensitive to noise. After the Grand Prix the audience applauded enthusiastically and Undercover, so Bondscoach Wim Ernes said later, was already nervous on the way to the arena. While everything was still ok during the warm up the black gelding got more and more excited on the way to the big arena. Undercover already did the piaffe during the first salute and Edward Gal was hard pressed to keep the horse calm – obviously the black then bit his tongue. In the second passage tour Undercover bled slightly from his mouth and got eliminated. Hans Peter Minderhoud said: ” I saw Edward’s scores while I was in the warm up area and thought first “Hm, maybe I can win a medal” when he only had 75% after the walk. But when I saw the blood I only thought “shit”.
Incidentally, Hans Peter Minderhoud also didn’t have fun during his performance – he got sick the night before and had “legs like spaghetti”, but when he saw his result he felt slightly better.
Edward Gal & Glock's Undercover

Edward Gal & Glock’s Undercover

After their performance in the Grand Prix, Spanish Beatriz Ferrer-Salat also showed a good performance in the Special, she and chestnut gelding Delgado finished in fourth place. Carl Hester (GBR), who finished fifith with Nip Tuck, also felt great: “Today I altogether forgot Valegro,” the team olympic winner said, “because Nip Tuck had his great moment today. He always is a little bit nervous,  but he always wants to compete. He has such a great attitude –  and I’m unbelievably happy that we made it to fifth place together. Having a look to Rio I have to say that there’s still room for improvement but the prospects are great.”
After the Totilas drama the other German dressage riders also were content. Isabell Werth and Don Johnson once rode in a wrong direction (instead to the half pass Werth already turned to the walk) but Don Johnson performed his probably best Special yet. The performance was awarded 75,92 percent. “I can’t even remember when I slipped up last time. I can’t believe this happened to me after 25 years of attending championships,” the oldest rider in the team said, laughing and shaking her head. “Actually we only wanted to distract everyone from the Totilas issue. I wanted to provide for a better atmosphere.” Werth added: “I trained the walk transitions so often, however, this wasn’t the right situation.” The rider from Rheinberg was pleased that the Don Frederico son performed so well: ” I know that he’s not one of the best, that’s why I wanted to improve his image. My brain cells just skipped working for a moment. After all I was back on track faster than the judge at C was able to ring his bell. And it’s not Jonny’s fault that he’s the ride of a blonde.”
Even though she had slipped in the one-time and two-time changes, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl who finished with Unee B in eighth place behind Isabell Werth didn’t lose her humour: “After the flaws in the two-time changes I just thought “I don’t care, let’s show some great one-time changes” – ok, that also didn’t happen, but now I will focus on tomorrow.”
The judges once more were reason for discussion: During the performance of Dutch Diederik von Silfhout with Arlando N.O.P the difference in the scores were more than 13 percent. Especially the score of the Dutch judge, compatriot of the rider stood out: he saw van Silfhout with 83% in first place. So the FEI applied their new rule which comes into play if the score of one judge differs more than 6% from the average. Then the score will be set to the nearest result. Here, the score of Eduard de Wolff van Westerrode (NED) was lowered from 83 to 77 percent. The Dutch judge will also be part of the jury for Rio.