Surprisingly, the struggle for gold in the Grand Prix Freestyle at the European Championships in Aachen was decided by a very thin margin. “For one moment I thought my result could be enough”, Kristina Bröring-Sprehe, winner of the silver medal said, a little bit annoyed after the last dressage competition in Aachen. At the same time the 28-year-old rider said she was “extremely happy” about her silver medal and the fact that she came so close to clear favourite Charlotte Dujardin. “I never thought that would happen.” Bröring-Sprehe, who will have her church wedding next week, admitted that it had been terrible to see Dujardin’s performance from the stands.
As already one day earlier Charlotte Dujardin and 13-year-old gelding Valegro showed an unbelievable performance in the dressage arena, but after Kristina Sprehe and Desperados’ 88,804 percent the pressure was even greater than in the Special. Sprehe’s performance really was something to behold. However, the olympic winner, world and european champion Dujardin can handle the pressure. “It was the same the day before and I already knew that the audience is on her side,” Dujardiin said. “IT was the same for us British in London. That’s what one expects in front of a local audience.” Carl Hester’s pupil steadily appears unimpressed, though and calm – but it seems as if she or at least her changes are haunted by a curse in the Soers. Last year in her Aachen debut, she was defeated by Totilas two times because she had flaws in the changes.This year there also was no competition in which the number one of the world didn’t slip up in the changes. That also happened in the Freestyle in the one-time changes and their repetitions. As a result the suspense was even greater until the result appeared on the display board in the Soers … and the catcalls began. Old and new European Champion was Charlotte Dujardin with 89,054 percent. In the end it was a really close call, the decision also could have looked different. “What really was difficult for me,” so Dujardin told later, “was that when I rode into the arena Isabell Werth could be seen on the LED display – she made a face and so everybody had to laugh. However, my competition was still good until I came to the one-time changes.” The favourite was not bothered by the fact that Kristina Bröring-Sprehe came so close in the end: “It’s how the sport works. Furthermore it’s extremely boring if I’m always miles ahead.”
A real surprise happened in third place: Beatriz Ferrer-Salat and Welstphalian gelding Delgado were the winners in a three-way fight for bronze in which Isabell Werth with Don Johnson and yesterday’s third-place winner Hans Peter Minderhoud with Glock’s Johnson also featured -and lost, all within one percent. The Spanish rider explained why 14-year-old Delegado as yet had not been in the limelight: ” He was injured very often. Every time we competed we had to take a long break afterwards. However, since the beginning of this year we are in full training, had our first competition in Spain in March and then competed in Hagen. The goal for the European Championships was the olympic qualification for the team and we managed it. That I was placed fifth in the Grand Prix was a suprise. Yesterday I finished in fourth place and today in third – it’s unbelievable.” And that despite the shock the pair suffered yesterday. In the morning they slipped during training and both fell down together. “We are doing well,” Ferrer-Salat smiled, now having a positive prospect for Rio.
For Jessica von Bredow-Werndl the European Championships also ended on an emotional note. The German championship debutante rode with her KWPN stallion Unee BB with 80,214 percent to seventh place. She still had problems with flaws in the changes, but the third of the World Cup finals should be content with her debut: “I didn’t show my personal best here, but I’m very content since it’s my first championship. The pressure here is greater than at a normal event.”
Throughout her long championship career Isabell Werth learned to deal with pressure. After a difficult week for the Germans she rode accordingly carefree in the Special and in the Freestyle she raised the stakes even more. After her great result of 82,482 percent Werth was full of joy: ” I don’t know if I ever had a result as good as that in an international competition. It was an unbelievable experience and nobody can take that moment away from me.” Isabell Werth had watched one performance beforehand in order to “soak up” the atmosphere, so she said.
National Coach Monica Theodorescu was also happy: “The three of them all had a great championship,” she said, finally able to be happy again after the Totilas drama. “Today Tina perhaps might have deserved gold. The audience also saw it that way, it was nice. 40,000 viewers noticed all flaws. That only happens in Aachen.”