Tag Archives: FEI

Fuchs Takes Individual Jumping Gold in Fighting Finish

Martin Fuchs. (FEI/Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Martin Fuchs became the sixth Swiss rider in the 62-year history of the event to claim individual Jumping gold at the Longines FEI European Championships 2019 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

At last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, USA and again at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Gothenburg, Sweden earlier this year, the talented 27-year-old had to settle for silver despite heroic efforts with his brilliant grey gelding Clooney. He at last stood on the top step of the podium when pinning Great Britain’s Ben Maher (37) into silver medal spot and young Belgian star, 23-year-old Jos Verlooy, who was a member of last Friday’s gold medal-winning team, into bronze.

Just 12 of the top 25 went into the second round over another superb track designed by The Netherlands’ Louis Konickx. Some protesters ran into the arena as Dutchman Marc Houtzager and Sterrehof’s Calimero took their turn, but this consummate horseman and his experienced 12-year-old gelding jumped clear to finish in eighth place at the end of the day.

In the closing stages, defending European champions Peder Fredricson with H&M All In, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann with Toveks Mary Lou, and reigning world champion Simone Blum from Germany with DSP Alice all faulted at the triple combination before it came down to a fight to the finish between the top three.

Fuchs had moved up from overnight bronze into silver medal spot when Verlooy and his chestnut gelding Igor made a mistake at the triple combination first time out, but Maher held onto the lead with yet another extraordinary round from Explosion W.

Verlooy was foot-perfect second time out, collecting just a single time fault, and when Fuchs did exactly the same then all the pressure was on the British rider who was last into the ring. And he looked to have gold in the bag until the pole on water-tray vertical two from home fell to gasps from the crowd. It would be the Swiss celebrating.

“It looked very much like I would be second again. Ben has been great over the past two years and especially at this championship again. I didn’t think I would beat him or that he would make a fault, but obviously I am very happy to be winning here and to finally not have only the silver medal!” Fuchs said.

Looking back on how this week of competition has played out, he said, “I had a fault the first day in the Speed class; it was my mistake I took a lot of risk and Clooney struggled at the last combination, but he has been great every day, getting better and better over each round which is one of his best qualities. And I was saying today before going into the final, if I do my job and do the small things right, he won’t let me down!”

The first person to give him a congratulatory hug was Irishman Sean Vard. “Sean has been with me a couple of years and is a great groom, friend, supporter, and the best person that has ever followed me to the shows. And my family, my parents, and my owner Luigi – they are always here supporting me.

“Unfortunately, my girlfriend Paris couldn’t be here this week; she’s in California and she’s been up all night to watch me and I had a little chat with her before my second round today. She just said don’t worry you will win it; she’s been saying that for the last three days and I kept saying don’t jinx it, touch wood, touch wood!” — Martin Fuchs (SUI)

He thanked Clooney’s owner, Luigi Baleri, who has been awarded the IJOC Horse Owner of the Year title. “He’s always a big support and he’s like a second father, driving me to shows since I was a Junior!” said Fuchs whose first major victory was gold at the Youth Olympic Games in 2010.

Clearly disappointed, Maher was still delighted with this week’s results with Explosion W. “On the day I wasn’t good enough to beat Martin, but all of these horses deserve to win – I made this one mistake and I’m very happy that if anyone has to beat me it is Martin!” he said.

Verlooy said he was delighted for his horse, Igor. “He jumped great and I’m very happy that I have given him this medal; he really deserved it. He is by Emerald and he’s really stepping into his father’s footsteps and I’m very proud of that. At the beginning of the week if you told me I was going to have this bronze, I would have been fine with that, so I’m not complaining!”

Results here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Werth Makes It a Golden Hat-Trick in Fabulous Freestyle Finale

Isabell Werth. (FEI/Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

On a day of breathtaking sport, Germany’s Isabell Werth brought the Longines FEI Dressage European Championships 2019 to a close when claiming her third gold medal of the week in the Freestyle riding her great mare Bella Rose. And on a day filled with personal-best performances, her compatriots Dorothee Schneider and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl clinched silver and bronze, with Schneider only 0.314 off Werth’s winning score.

The competition built to an incredible crescendo as rider after rider excelled themselves in front of a packed stadium of knowledgeable spectators who savoured every moment. Denmark’s Daniel Bachmann Andersen drew gasps of delight with spectacular one-tempi changes from his one-eyed stallion Blue Hors Zack to take the temporary lead when eighth to go of the 15 starters. But two horses later the home crowd went wild when Edward Gal and Glock’s Zonik NOP went out in front with 84.271.

Fifth-last into the arena, von Bredow-Werndl and her 12-year-old mare TSF Dalera blew the competition wide open with a personal-best score of 89.107, showing beautiful rhythm and balance and the softest of contact in their one-tempi changes. Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour and Atterupgaards Cassidy, who took bronze in Thursday’s Grand Prix Special, followed with a fabulous test that slotted them in behind on 87.771, and then it was time for the lady recognised as the Queen of international Dressage, Werth, with the great love of her life, the mare she calls Bella.

And the crowd was in for a treat, the extraordinary horsewoman working them into a frenzy of excitement that had them clapping wildly as the turned the centreline for their final halt. But the battle wasn’t over yet, because Schneider threw down the best score of her career with Showtime who showed his great power and presence when putting 90.561 on the board. Last to go, Judy Reynolds and Vancouver K ended a superb week that saw her post three new Irish record scores when finishing fifth, behind Dufour, on a mark of 85.589.

Bronze medallist von Bredow-Werndl described this as “the most exhausting week ever; it was a roller-coaster of emotions but it had the happiest ending I could have wished for, and Dalera was just extraordinary today. At the very beginning she was a little bit nervous and I was a bit nervous before I entered the arena, but I took some deep breaths and I was completely with her and she was with me for the whole test; there was no second we lost each other and it was just a phenomenal dance!” she said.

Schneider had every reason to be elated by her score too, because her mark sees her join an elite group that includes only five other riders who have achieved over 90 percent in Freestyle. “When Showtime came into the arena and saw the audience, he said let’s dance now, and we danced together… we really enjoyed ourselves! I wasn’t thinking about scores; I just wanted to enjoy this Freestyle… it’s an emotional bond between Showtime and me and today he had fun and I did too!” she said.

This has been a great week and a very long week and I’m so happy and so proud of Bella!” said Werth. “She gave me a super feeling in all three competitions, and she was always doing her best.

“There were so many exciting performances here in Rotterdam, and for a few of us it was a real roller-coaster which reminds us that, in Championships, anything can happen. For me and Bella there were things today that we could improve on, but there were also so many highlights, and in the end to come up the centreline and hear the audience start to clap – I’m just so happy; it has been a super week for Germany!”

The most successful athlete in the entire history of international equestrian sport, Werth collected the 24th European Championship medal of her astonishing career but she said that her medal collection is not what drives her.

“The most beautiful thing is the many different horses, and different kinds of horses I have had – that’s why I’m still motivated to ride. To wake up and go in the saddle every day, it’s a privilege when you can do what you love, and you love what you do, and Madeleine (Winter-Schulze, her patron) gives me all the freeness I need to do the sport… this is why I’m still here!” she said.

Result here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Dominant Dutch Take Gold on Home Soil

The Netherlands team. (FEI / Liz Gregg)

Top scores by Frank Hosmar and Sanne Voets secured The Netherlands their second major international team title at the Longines FEI Para Dressage European Championships in Rotterdam. In front of an excited home crowd, the pair led both their Grades in the final day of the team contest. The win comes just under a year after their victory at the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon (USA), the first time Great Britain were beaten in a European, World, or Paralympic team competition.

Hosmar, Voets, and teammates Nicole den Dulk and Rixt van der Horst scored 227.039% and took the title one year and one day ahead of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. The win was one of the team’s main objectives of these championships, to prove that the 2018 win wasn’t a one off.

“It’s good, and sometimes easy to win… but staying there is harder!” — Frank Hosmar (The Netherlands)

The Brits aren’t taking the dominance of the Dutch lying down. The team, Sophie Wells (Grade V), Nicky Greenhill (Grade IV), Georgia Wilson (Grade II), and Mari Durward-Akhurst (Grade I), will be delighted with their silver medal winning score of 221.302%, especially with the latter three making their major international debuts. “We’re absolutely delighted,” said Chef d’Equipe Georgina Sharples.

Team bronze went to Denmark with a team made up of mother and son combination, Tobias and Line Thorning Joergensen (Grades III and V, respectively), alongside Caroline Cecilie Nielsen (Grade III) and Camilla Christensen (Grade V). They scored 216.493%.

But the corks popped for the Dutch who had gathered together to watch the final stages of the competition and see their gold confirmed. “From day one they’ve been performing very well,” said an elated Chef d’Equipe Joyce Heuitink, “but then it’s a new competition and you have no idea, and nothing is for sure.

“I was actually a little bit nervous. I was really hoping we could equal the gold medal from Tryon and then you realise it’s not so easy. It was hard in Tryon and it was hard here. I’m so, so happy.

“Being at home everyone can celebrate it with family and friends and that’s the nice part of it, and just the extra vibe with everybody here. It’s been an incredible season and they’ve worked very hard.”

Grade II’s den Dulk added: “Wow! It’s amazing. It’s brilliant. We knew we had a strong team, and we’d been performing very well all year. We had a great base from yesterday and to finish with such a great score was really a team effort and that’s great. I think this is one of the best championships for us as a team.”

Earlier, Hosmar’s score of 75.860% on Alphaville N.O.P. set the Dutch on their way to gold in the Grade V test. As in the individual test he edged Great Britain’s Sophie Wells into second place, on C Fatal Attraction, and scoring 75.651%. Regine Mispelkamp of Germany was third on Look at Me Now, with 71.628%.

Voets gave a yelp of delight at the end of her Grade IV test. On her individual European gold winning Demantur Rs2 N.O.P., she scored 77.150%, the highest score of the week so far. Belgium’s Manon Claeys scored 74.850% on San Dior, while Sweden’s Louise Etzner Jakobsson was third with 72.400% on Zernard.

Click here for full results.

By Rob Howell

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4

It’s European Team Gold and a Tokyo Ticket for Belgium

Team Belgium. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Belgium held on tight to the top of the leaderboard to win their first-ever team medals in the 62-year history of the FEI European Jumping Championships – and they were golden ones.

Otto Becker’s German side were firm favourites to take the title for the eighth time, but in the end, they had to settle for silver ahead of Great Britain in bronze. And the icing on the cake from a Belgian perspective was that they are now on the road to Tokyo 2020, because they bagged one of the three spots on offer to teams not already qualified thanks to superb performance from Pieter Devos, Jos Verlooy, Jerome Guery, and Gregory Wathelet. Britain and France bagged the remaining two qualifications.

It was edge-of-the-seat stuff to the very end, Wathelet aware that he could afford a fence down or a time fault when he was last man into the ring, but not both if his country was going to top the podium.

Belgium, Germany, and Great Britain were already in gold, silver, and bronze medal positions as the final day began. The British added eight faults to their scoreline when Ben Maher and Explosion led the way with a clear and both Holly Smith (Hearts Destiny) and Amanda Derbyshire (Luibanta BH) left just a single fence on the floor, Scott Brash (Hello M’Lady) providing an eight-fault discard this time around.

Germany added four when pathfinder Simone Blum (DSP Alice) and anchorman Daniel Deusser (Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z) each had a fence down but both Christian Ahlmann (Clintrexo Z) and Marcus Ehning (Comme Il Faut) jumped spectacular clears.

When Devos and his mare Claire Z were first out for Belgium and collected five faults when hitting the penultimate vertical and going over the time-allowed of 78 seconds their lead began to look a little shaky. But Verlooy and Igor kept a clean sheet and when Guery and Quel Homme de Hus collected just a single time fault then they began to look much more secure.

As Wathelet set off history was hanging in the balance, but he wasn’t going to let that get to him. “I like pressure!” he said after galloping through the timers with the scoreboard showing a nice big fat zero. In the final analysis his country grabbed the gold with a total of 12.07, Germany took silver medal spot on 16.22, and Great Britain finished in bronze with 21.41.

Victorious Chef d’Equipe, Peter Weinberg, said, “It’s unbelievable and I’m very, very proud of my team, four top riders with brilliant horses; they did a fantastic job and I’m very, very happy!” When asked why it has taken so long for Belgium to get on the European team podium, he replied with a laugh, “Maybe it’s because they didn’t have me as a trainer!”

All the Belgian team paid tribute to their back-up crew and the other Belgian riders, including Olivier Philippaerts and Niels Bruynseels, who have supported them every inch of the way this week.

“We’ve been working together for a couple of years now, and today we put everything together. We all think the same way and we are all good friends, and this is why we got the gold.” — Pieter Devos (Team Belgium)

Jerome Guery said, “Yesterday I was a little disappointed with my result – I had to be better today for my horse, and also for my team. We knew after my ride the we would get the silver but then Greg rode a clear and it was gold!” And like all the riders, he complimented the fantastic courses being presented by The Netherlands’ Louis Konickx this week.

“We’ve had three really different classes; the first day was a typical speed class, yesterday was a more delicate round, and today was much bigger. It’s been a really good job from the course design team,” he pointed out.

Germany’s Daniel Deusser reflected on how this team competition played itself out. “We started strong on the first day but lost it a little bit yesterday… it was a very exciting class today and the teams were close. In the end we are very happy with silver.”

All four Belgian team-members have made the cut into Sunday’s top-25 individual final, and Verlooy is lying a very close second to Britain’s Ben Maher at the head of affairs when the action gets underway after a rest day.

Results here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Dutch, Brits, and Danes Start Strong in Team Title Chase

Rixt van der Horst and Findsley N.O.P. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

An intriguing day of competition saw a potential close finish to the Longines FEI Para Dressage European Championships’ team competition begin to take shape with nations in Grades I, II, and III in contention for the coveted title.

Leading the way in Grade I was Norway’s Jens-Lasse Dokkan. Fresh from his individual title win on Wednesday, Dokkan and Aladdin scored 76. 536%. “I’m really happy and satisfied with that,” he said.

Close behind him was Italy’s individual silver medallist Sara Morganti and Royal Delight, who scored 74.750%. Third highest score in the Grade went to Finland’s Katja Karjalainen on Dr Doolittle with 73.643%.

The second competition of the day saw another tussle between Grade III’s new individual European Champion, Tobias Thorning Joergensen, and The Netherlands’ triple world gold medallist Rixt van der Horst. Joergensen came out on top again with an impressive 76.382% on Jolene Hill, while van der Horst and Findsley N.O.P. scored 74.029%. Joergensen’s teammate Caroline Cecilie Nielsen and Davidoff had the third best score in the Grade, 70.088%.

Speaking after his ride, Joergensen said: “I’m feeling very happy although she was a bit more tense today. I was scared I may have done too much. I wish I had a better feeling, but I will sit down and watch the video and look at the scores the judges give and see what we can do better.”

In the final competition of the day, for the grade II riders, there was delight for Great Britain’s European Championship debutant, Georgia Wilson. Having picked up a silver medal in her grade’s individual test earlier in the week, she came out on top with a score of 74.758% riding Midnight.

In doing so she knocked Austria’s Pepo Puch into second place. Puch rode Sailor’s Blue to score 74.152%, edging out The Netherlands’ Nicole Den Dulk and Wallace N.O.P, who scored 73.364%.

Clearly enjoying every minute of her first major championships, Wilson said: “He felt very good. We practise and practise our transitions so they go nice and smoothly and I was really pleased with my free walk. And my accuracy and halts were apparently square.

“I’m finding the whole experience very different to a normal international. I get a day off between rides and have been able to enjoy the show jumping and dressage too. My medal ceremony was amazing and scary at the same time. I said to Pepo (Puch, the gold medal winner): ‘This is my first time. You have to show me what to do.’”

Germany, traditionally a strong team contender, are effectively out of the competition now. Their two riders, Elke Philipp in Grade I and Steffen Zeibig in Grade III, both failed to break the crucial 70% mark, making it now virtually impossible for the country to make the podium.

Officially, the current lead in the competition belongs to Portugal. Its three riders all competed and scored 188.591%. Austria are in second place with 145.224% with one rider left to perform, and Italy are third with 144.357%, also with one more rider to come.

The main competitors for the three medals all have two more riders to perform in Grades IV and V. They include The Netherlands’ Frank Hosmar and Sanne Voets, Great Britain’s Sophie Wells, and Belgium’s Michele George.

Crunching the numbers suggest that The Netherlands remain the favourites for the gold, with fierce competition between Belgium, Denmark, and Great Britain for the other two medals.

Click here for full results.

By Rob Howell

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4

Werth Takes Back-to-Back Grand Prix Special Gold

Isabell Werth. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Team-mate Schneider pushes her all the way

In a mighty battle between two of the sport’s true greats, Isabell Werth, the lady recognised as the reigning Queen of international Dressage, won through once again in the Grand Prix Special at the Longines FEI Dressage European Championships 2019 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Two years ago in Gothenburg, Sweden, Werth pinned team-mate Sonke Rothenberger into silver medal spot, and this time around it was her other German compatriot, Dorothee Schneider, who had to settle for second place. But Schneider chased her right to the line with a brilliant performance from Showtime, and was overwhelmed with emotion afterwards.

“This is the greatest day of my life – my first individual medal!” said the double-Olympian. “I had one mistake in the flying changes because I lost a stirrup – I have to talk to my trainer about doing some lunging again! I’ve been riding this horse for 10 years now and he is so amazing. I’m really proud to be sitting in second place tonight behind Isabell!” she said.

She established the lead with just five left to go on a mark of 85.456 but Werth overtook her with another of her show-stopping rides on the mare she most adores, posting the winning score of 86.520.

“I know that with Bella Rose everything is possible and it is up to me to make it happen. The piaffe/passage could not be better than it was tonight; the feeling was outstanding and the atmosphere was really special!” — Isabell Werth (GER)

Bronze went to Cathrine Dufour and Atterupgaards Cassidy, the pair who really put themselves onto centre stage when also third in the Grand Prix Special and Freestyle at the 2017 Europeans. They posted 81.337 just before Schneider came into the ring but, typically modest, the Danish rider didn’t think that was good enough for a podium placing and headed back to the stables with her little chestnut gelding only to get the call-up to return to the arena. And that took a bit of reorganisation.

“I didn’t think I would get a medal so I told my groom to unplait him, so we had to put the plaits back in again – it was a bit of a surprise – but I’m so happy with Cassidy; he’s now 16 but he’s in such great shape!” she said.

Age is but a number to the horses competing this week, and there was huge excitement in the Irish camp when Judy Reynolds and her 17-year-old gelding Vancouver K separated the two remaining members of Tuesday’s gold-medal-winning German team, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl who slotted into fourth with TSF Dalera BB and Sonke Rothenberger and Cosmo in sixth place. Scoring 78.252, Reynolds finished fifth and set her second Irish record score of the week having helped secure an Olympic team qualifying spot for her country with another brilliant performance on Tuesday.

The evening’s competition had a real buzz about it and Judge a C, Susanne Baarup, said the Ground Jury enjoyed every moment of it. “It was an amazing class and also very exciting to judge because a lot of riders had some problems in there. I think as a judge it’s very emotional; we get goosebumps, and we give 9s and 10s and we think my god where do we end here! It’s really just the small details that separate the riders. We talked afterwards and said we want to do it again, we want to see them again, and of course we will do that on Saturday in the Freestyle, and we are really looking forward to it!”

Results here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Double Dutch Delights on Para Dressage Day Two

Sanne Voets with Demantur Rs2 N.O.P. (FEI / Liz Gregg)

Dutch Paralympic riders thrilled the home crowd by taking both gold medals on offer at the Longines FEI Para Dressage European Championships in Rotterdam.

Leading the charge was Paralympic and triple world gold medallist Sanne Voets in grade IV’s individual test, swiftly followed by Frank Hosmar in grade V’s competition. Both riders successfully defended their titles from the last European championships in Gothenburg in 2017.

Voets’ win came on Demantur Rs2 N.O.P., with a score of 76.659%. And in a straight replication of Gothenburg’s competition, silver went to Belgium’s Manon Claeys on San Dior with 73.805%, and the bronze to Sweden’s Louise Etzner Jakobsson with 72.902% on Zernard.

Clearly emotional after her first major international win in front of a home crowd, Voets said: “I’m European champion again. I love that. I am thrilled!

“I was really pleased with him [Demantur Rs2 N.O.P.]. I had a little hiccup in my first transition and that was my mistake. This horse knows what to do but waits for me to say ‘when’ so he was a bit confused. But I can’t blame him.

“I’ve been nervous all week. I arrived on Sunday and then had to wait three days to ride. When I woke up today, I was happy to get started.”

Claeys was delighted with her silver too, adding: “It feels really good. Sanne deserves to be number one, but I’m very happy with the test today.”

Hosmar’s gold came on his long-term partner, Alphaville N.O.P. The pair has been a team since the London 2012 Paralympic Games and scored a personal best of 75.810%. His close rival and world number one, Great Britain’s Sophie Wells, took the silver on C Fatal Attraction with 75.595%. And in a major surprise, just weeks into their riding partnership, Belgium’s Michele George stormed back to a championship podium for the first time since Rio 2016 to take the bronze on Best of 8 with 72.571%.

“I’m really delighted,” Hosmar said. “He was so nice and every step I could manage him. He was totally controlled and that’s what I like. I’m enjoying the home competition and there are many more people here from where I live including my friends and family who can come and watch.”

Wells was philosophical about her second place and said: “He was a little tense. He didn’t notice anything as we went in but then it was as if he thought, ‘oh there’s a lot of people here.’ But that’s horses, isn’t it?”

Wells also scored the first 10 of the championships but laughed: “Started to go downhill from there though.”

Outside of the medals there was better news for Great Britain’s Nicky Greenhill in grade IV. She’s her country’s first ever visually impaired rider at a major competition and is making her European debut. It’s fair to say she’s not had the easiest of starts though.

For starters, she’s here on her reserve horse, King Edward I, after her usual ride Betty Boo was left at home. Then her guide dog Sparky had some transportation issues with certain local taxis, and her husband Gary, who calls for her in the arena so she knows where she is, lost his voice. To cap it all, she was stung by a wasp and ended up taking a precautionary visit to hospital with anaphylactic shock.

However, she came a solid fourth in her grade, and was delighted with that result. Writing on her Facebook page, she said: “Wow, what a day. I think I have proven now that I can cope with most challenges that are thrown at me.”

After two days of competition, the Dutch are firmly at the head of the para dressage medal table with two golds, a silver, and a bronze. Denmark, Norway, and Austria are equal second with a gold each, while Great Britain are third with two silvers. Belgium has one silver and two bronzes.

The championships now have two days of team competition ahead. If the medals are anything to go by, that’s likely to be a tight battle between the home nation, the Brits, the Germans, the Danes, and the Belgians.

Click here for full results.

By Rob Howell

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4

Clear Rounds Carry Belgians to Top of Jumping Team Leaderboard

Pieter Devos and Claire Z. (FEI/Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

In a thrilling second day of competition at the Longines FEI Jumping European Championships 2019 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, Team Belgium rocketed up from overnight eighth place into pole position when they were the only side to produce three clear rounds.

Dutch course designer, Louis Konickx, turned up the heat with a significantly bigger track, and from the 68 starters that included 9 individuals not competing in teams, there were only 11 foot-perfect runs around his 14-fence course.

The first-day leaders from Germany slipped to silver medal spot, the French dropped from second to fourth, and Great Britain climbed from fourth to overtake the third-placed Swedish side. And adding to the heat of excitement, the battle for the three Olympic qualifying spots on offer also saw some shuffling with Belgium, Britain, and France now well-placed going into the medal-decider.

Germany looked set for another great day when reigning World Champion, Simone Blum, kicked off with another lovely clear from DSP Alice. But when Christian Ahlmann and Clintrexo Z hit both the vertical after the open water at fence 8 and the oxer at 11, and Marcus Ehning also double-faulted with Comme Il Faut, then they began to lose their grip. Despite a brilliant last-to-go clear from Daniel Deusser and Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z, they had to add one of those eight-fault scores to their tally.

Both France and Sweden added 12 and dropped off a potential medal position, but the British posted just the four picked up at the water by anchorman Scott Brash and Hello M’Lady, because Ben Maher (Explosion W) and Holly Smith (Hearts Destiny) made no mistake, so Amanda Derbyshire’s eight faults (Luibanta BH) could be discounted.

Meanwhile, the Belgians began climbing up the order with clears from both Pieter Devos with Claire Z and Jos Verlooy and Igor. They faltered with two down for Jérôme Guery and Quel Homme de Hus, but when Gregory Wathelet sailed home with their third foot-perfect run of the day, they suddenly found themselves sitting pretty at the very top of the leaderboard because it’s the best three scores per nation that count.

“We knew that after today we would have quite some changes on the leaderboard… the boys did a fantastic job, and the horses jumped amazing!” — Peter Weinberg (Team Belgium Chef d’Equipe)

Pathfinder Pieter Devos said, “The course designer did a great job today. It was much more technical, you had to ride with a plan to the very last fence, but it was a horse-friendly course. We can go to day three tomorrow with the horses not being in the red, and this is always good,” he pointed out.

Jérôme Guery explained that this is a first championship for his 13-year-old stallion. “I knew the vertical after the water would be difficult, and the triple combination was really short for me, but I am happy and lucky to have a strong team with me. I am only riding this horse for the last six months; he’s a slow horse but with a big canter. I use his big strides to be on time, and I always have to keep an eye on it,” he added.

Wathelet’s horse is also a Championship first-timer, but he’s been riding the 11-year-old grey stallion, MJT Nevados S, since he was six so they know each other very well.  “We now have a team of horses that are more experienced and we feel better and better each year,” he said.

At 23 years of age, Jos Verlooy is by far the youngest in the Belgian side, but he already has plenty of mileage on his career clock and this week his 11-year-old chestnut gelding is competing at Championship level for a second time. “He was in Tryon (at the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018), but he didn’t do too much this year so we could keep him fresh and fit for this Championship,” he explained. It seems that decision is paying off in spade-loads because not only is his team out in front, but he personally sits in sixth place individually and a spot in Sunday’s top-25 individual final looks very much on the cards.

When asked if he thinks his team can hold on to gold medal position at the end of the last round of the team competition in which only the top 10 nations will battle it out, Chef d’Equipe Peter Weinberg said, “We will try very hard, but our first goal is to qualify for Tokyo and anything else will be a bonus on top of that!”

Britain’s Ben Maher has moved up to pole position in the individual rankings ahead of Swiss star Steve Guerdat while Frenchman Alexis Deroubaix is lying third ahead of Germany’s Daniel Deusser in fourth place. First-day leader, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson, dropped to eighth with a fence down, but he’s only a fence off the leader, while in the team rankings there’s less than a fence separating the top three nations.

Results here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Dramatic Tie and Dazzling Dane Dominate Opening Day of Para Dressage

Tobias Thorning Joergensen riding Jolene Hill. (FEI / Liz Gregg)

The Longines FEI European Para Dressage Championships got off to the most dramatic start possible with a tie at the top of the Grade I individual competition, an exceptionally rare event in the sport.

Norway’s Jens-Lasse Dokkan (Aladdin) and Italy’s Sara Morganti (Royal Delight) both scored 75.036%, with Dokkan given the gold after the final four collective marks were tallied. Sport results don’t get any closer than that!

Dokkan has been riding at top international level for well over 20 years and competed at the first ever Paralympic equestrian competition in Atlanta (USA) in 1996. He hasn’t won at this level for 10 years but that changed. “It feels great, my first ever individual title,” he said. “I’ve only had Aladdin since October and our first competition was in March.

“This is fantastic and gives me motivation to work to hopefully take part in my seventh Paralympics in Tokyo next year.” — Jens-Lasse Dokkan (Norway)

The moment was bittersweet for Morganti. The triple world gold medallist has yet to win a European title, and a nervous start to her test on Royal Delight which scored just 5.9 clearly cost her a comfortable gold here in Rotterdam. “The horse was a little bit behind me today,” she explained. “It was difficult for me because I needed a lot of energy to bring her forward. But it’s OK. I was dreaming for a medal and coming second with the same score as first place is amazing.”

Latvia’s Rihards Snikus took a solid bronze with King of the Dance after scoring 74.821%.

There was drama in Grade III too, when Denmark’s Tobias Thorning Joergensen upset the form books by taking the individual title ahead of home favourite and triple 2018 world champion, Rixt van der Horst. Riding Jolene Hill, Joergensen scored 75.706% with van der Horst and Findsley N.O.P. one point behind with 74.706%.

A clearly delighted Joergensen said of being European champion: “It sounds amazing. I’m just so happy. It’s incredible. I knew there were a few riders who could beat me. I was nervous but I stayed at the arena and watched every single one, hoping for them not to pass me.

“I’ve only been on the scene for two years and got my horse just four months ago, so this means everything to me. She is amazing to ride and amazing every day. She is so kind she would go through fire and water for me.”

And Para Dressage’s only side-saddle rider Barbara Minneci picked up her first ever medal at a major international, taking the bronze on Stuart with a score of 70.382%. “I was not here to do a medal,” she laughed. “I was just here for the team. I’m really happy because I love my horse and I think he has a lot of potential and today showed that. And there is still more to show.”

In Grade II, Austria’s Pepo Puch affirmed his place as one of the biggest names in Para Dressage, taking the win on Sailor’s Blue with a score of 75.235%. That put him ahead of British debutant Georgia Wilson, who rode Midnight to a mark of 73.471%. The Netherlands’ Nicole den Dulk claimed bronze with Wallace N.O.P. on 73.353%.

Puch said: “I was so happy. The horse was so concentrated. He’s so great. It’s difficult for me to sit down and relax which is my problem. So like my horse, I have to train my body to be relaxed and smooth.”

And Georgia Wilson was also thrilled with her performance. “It was nerve-wracking but good,” she said. “I’m glad the first one’s out the way and I can build on things for the second test.”

Last – and somewhat surprising – word of the day though belongs to Joergensen. When asked about his plans to celebrate his first major international title he laughed: “I just want to go back to my hotel and sleep,” he said. “I’m so tired!”

Click here for the full results.

By Rob Howell

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4

Germany Gets Dressage Gold Again on Roller-Coaster Day in Rotterdam

(L to R) Sonke Rothenberger, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, Isabell Werth, and Dorothee Schneider. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Germany claimed the team title for a staggering 24th time at the Longines FEI European Dressage Championships 2019 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands where the hosts scooped silver and Sweden snatched the bronze.

The battle for medal placings was intense, and so too was the contest for the three available qualifying spots at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games which eventually went to Denmark, Ireland, and Portugal.

On an extraordinary afternoon of high drama, German superstar Isabell Werth posted the biggest score of the competition with 85.652 from Bella Rose to secure the title and collect her 22nd European Championship medal and the 11th European team gold of her illustrious career. The stage looked set for Great Britain to bag the silver, but elimination for the penultimate partnership of Charlotte Dujardin and Mt St John Freestyle under the blood rule dropped her team to fourth, so it was the Dutch and Swedes who filled the lower steps of the podium.

The winning German side consisted of all four gold medallists from last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon (USA), the only difference being the replacement of Dorothee Schneider’s ride, Sammy Davis Jr, with Showtime. Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB opened the German account, and when Sonke Rothenberger added 79.084, and then Werth and her 15-year-old mare put 85.652 on the board, the defending champions were never going to be overtaken.

It was another masterclass from the legend that is Werth, the most medalled athlete in the history of equestrian sport who said that the win was extra special because she achieved it with her beloved Bella Rose. “She was really brilliant. I’m happy and proud; both of us enjoyed the competition,” she said.

Werth, Schneider, and Rothenberger were also all on Germany’s triumphant 2017 European side along with Helen Langehanenberg, but despite having another European gold medal around his neck, Rothenberger wasn’t entirely satisfied with his own performance.

“We came here with a really strong team knowing all horses scored already over 80%, so we expected quite a bit, but as you will see today it’s always a different story when you have to put it on the day in the ring. I was quite nervous for my own test… I couldn’t ride the perfectly precise round that we had in Aachen, but I’m looking forward to the following days and it was super fun to have such amazing colleagues who put down such amazing rounds!” — Sonke Rothenberger (Team Germany)

Lying second as the day began, it seemed the British would cruise into silver medal spot when Carl Hester and Hawtins Delicato posted 78.323 with Dujardin still to come. But as the riders were preparing for the prizegiving the news of her elimination filtered through and Sweden moved up to bronze and the Dutch into silver medal spot.

Anne Meulendijks (MDH Avanti NOP) was the Dutch pathfinder with a score of 71.801 and Hans Peter Minderhoud (Glock’s Dream NOP) followed with a mark of 75.295. Today Emmelie Scholtens posted 76.087 with Desperado NOP, and when Edward Gal followed that with 78.758 from Glock’s Zonik NOP, then the hosts were always going to take a podium placing.

Gal joked however that his stallion was a little distracted in the warm-up ring. “There were all the mares I think that were in the competition in the same warm-up as me, so he was really wild – in the end they went away and I had five minutes when I could ride normal and then it was quite OK. But then in the ring I felt the concentration was a bit down… but luckily everything went well and the points were also nice so that’s why we are here now!” he explained.

Minderhoud described the afternoon as “really crazy because we were counting all the time for the scores,” and pointed out that this result means a lot to the host nation. “It was four years ago we had a medal, and I can tell you it’s not so nice to travel to Tryon (USA, for the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018) and to travel to Rio (BRA, 2016 Olympic Games) and not have a medal in your suitcase when you come back!” So this felt pretty good.

Sweden’s Patrick Kittel was also delighted to find himself and his team that included Therese Nilshagen and Antonia and Juliette Ramel on the podium. “Today was quite something; like Hans Peter said it was like a roller-coaster. At first I was almost biting the sand – I thought it was going to be another Tryon again, 0.2 away from the medal, but in the end it worked out and we’ve had amazing sport and seen amazing horses!”

The individual standings in the Grand Prix showed Werth, Schneider, and Rothenberger with the top three scores followed by Gal in fourth, Denmark’s Daniel Bachmann Andersen in fifth, and Britain’s Hester just ahead of Kittel in sixth place. The top 30 individuals go through to Thursday’s Grand Prix Special in which Werth and Rothenberger will be defending the gold and silver they won in Gothenburg (SWE) two years ago.

Results here.

Watch highlights here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46