The fight for the gold meldal in the dressage Freestyle at the European Championships in Gothenburg became a thriller. As already hinted at in the Special – namely Sönke Rothenberger’s potential to beat his team colleague Isabell Werth aggravated in the Freestyle. Sönke Rothenberger and 10-year-old Cosmo with the exceptional movements celebrated a Freestyle which caused the audience to develop goosebumps. They received 10s for the flying changes, for the piaffes, for the transitions – it was a great performance Rothenberger showed dressage queen Isabell Werth. His result: 90,614 percent – entirely deserved.
Isabell Werth knew: You are not allowed to make mistakes! And everybody who knows Isabell Werth knows that pressure makes her even stronger. The rider who already won two gold medals at this EC and 12-year-old Oldenburger mare Weihegold OLD by Don Schufro-Sandro Hit showed a round full of highlights and without mistakes. Everything flowed and was delivered with a lightness without equals. Just before the end it was clear that Isabell Werth must have made it. And she did it – by a very narrow margin. 90,982 percent meant she was just a sliver ahead of Rothenberger and two judges saw Rothenberger in first place. “It’s a silver medal with a golden edge,” Sönke Rothenberger joked. He was simply happy and grateful for his horse’s performance.
Isabell Werth was just as emotional as Sönke Rothenberger even though the rider from Rheinberg has already won 17 gold medals at European Championships, three of them this week. However, the experienced rider still had tears running in the awards ceremony. “After this week full of adrenaline the emotions just come out,” Werth said. “It was such a brilliant Freestyle. And the competition was just to our taste. Everyone pushes the other. It was so exciting. I knew I wasn’t allowed to make even a small mistake – and I didn’t make one.”
Third place and bronze went to Danish Cathrine Dufour with 14-year-old Danish gelding Atterupgaard’s Cassidy by Caprimond-Donnerhall with 84,561 percent. “I would never even have dreamed of winning two medals here,” so the Danish rider said. “I would have expected to get into the top five if everything went well, but never more.”
German national coach Monica Theodorescu was speechless: “First I had to take a deep breath. Two times more than 90 percent- that is unbelievable. Isabell Werth’s mare was so precise and the last piaffe-pirouette was eye candy. She has celebrated dressage. And with this performance Sönke has reached world-class level.”
Fourth place went to British Carl Hester with 13-year-old KWPN gelding Nip Tuck by Dun Ruto-Animo and 80,614 percent ahead of Swedish Therese Nilshagen with talented Oldenburger gelding Dante Weltino OLD by Danone-Welt Hit II (80,411 percent) who will have a big future ahead.