Tag Archives: FEI Para Dressage European Championships

Double Double Dutch and Britain’s Wilson Stuns in Championship Debut

Georgia Wilson (GBR) Grade II, Jens-Lasse Dokkan (NOR) Grade I gold, and Tobias Thorning Joergensen (DEN) Grade III. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

Great Britain’s Georgia Wilson topped off a stellar introduction to major international competition taking gold in the Freestyle at the Longines FEI Para Dressage European Championships in Rotterdam (NED). The win comes after her silver medal in the Grade II individual test.

Riding Midnight she scored 78.187% to take the win ahead of Austria’s individual champion Pepo Puch and The Netherlands Nicole den Dulk. Puch, riding Sailor’s Blue, scored 77.220% for the silver with den Dulk on Wallace N.O.P. taking bronze with 74.313%.

An emotional and elated Wilson said: “The silver medal hasn’t even come into my head yet I don’t know if I’ll cry at my medal ceremony, but I hope not. I’ve not had the easiest time in riding with different horses but basically you have to keep going and get the right coach.

Denmark’s Tobias Thorning Joergensen added a second gold to his tally by winning the Grade III freestyle. Riding Jolene Hill, the 19-year old scored 79.093%, with The Netherlands’ Rixt van der Horst second, on Findsley N.O.P. with 77.327%.  A second bronze of the week went to the side-saddle rider Barbara Minecci from Belgium. She rode Stuart and scored 73.127%

It wasn’t just a day for the newbies. A member of the sport’s older guard continued his spectacular come back in the shape of Norway’s Jens-Lasse Dokkan. He added the Grade I freestyle title to the individual he picked up earlier in the week scoring 80.193% on Aladdin (the highest score of the week). Italy’s Sara Morganti and Royal Delight were second with 79.273%. In a repeat of the individual test’s running order, Latvia Rihards Snikus claimed his second bronze medal on King of the Dance, with 77.387%.

Dokkans, who hasn’t won a major medal since 2010’s FEI World Equestrian Games™, and who has appeared at every Paralympic Games since the sport debuted in 1996, said: “We’ll have a big celebration dinner but first I have to fly home and then have a long drive. I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed though and dreaming about this week.”

Picking up his third gold of the week, the Grade V freestyle, The Netherlands’ Frank Hosmar joked: “Now I know how it feels to be British.” Riding Alphaville N.O.P. (in their eighth consecutive European, World, or Paralympic championships) he scored 79.900%, leaving Great Britain’s Sophie Wells and C Fatal Attraction in second place again with 78.375%. In another repeat of the individual competition, Belgium’s Michele George picked up bronze on Best of 8 with 74.720%.

Final honours of the day went to The Netherlands again, when Sanne Voets won the Grade IV freestyle on Demantur Rs2 N.O.P. scoring 79.720%. Sweden’s Louise Etzner Jakobsson improved on her individual bronze by taking silver on Zernard with 73.775%, swapping places with Belgium’s Manon Claeys. Riding San Dior; she scored 73.355% for the bronze.

Voets’ win, on the back of her three golds at last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games™, makes her a member of a unique para dressage club, the owner of a double set of consecutive triple gold medals from major championships. Great Britain’s Sophie Christiansen was the last person to achieve that feat after the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the 2013 Europeans in Herning (DEN). “I’m happy,” Voets said. “It’s hard to be the favourite and the hardest part is the pressure you put on yourself. I was amazed by the atmosphere. It’s been an amazing week and I’m going to enjoy every second of the medal ceremony.”

At the end of an enthralling para dressage competition the Dutch topped the medal table with five golds, two silvers, and two bronzes. Denmark took the second spot with two golds and a bronze, with Norway close behind with two golds. Great Britain were fourth with their gold, and four silvers.

With exactly one year to go to the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the week will be remembered most of all though for the incredible performances by the home squad, the emergency of some new para dressage stars, and the return of one of the greats.

Click here for the full results.

By Rob Howell

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
+41 78 750 61 4

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
+41 78 750 61 4

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
+41 78 750 61 4

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
+41 78 750 61 4