Rotterdam, Netherlands – Aug. 19, 2019 – Team Germany took the first step on the road to their 24th team title when Dorothee Schneider and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl posted the two best scores on the opening day of the Longines FEI Dressage European Championships 2019 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands on Monday.
Von Bredow-Werndl’s 76.894 percent with TSF Dalera BB topped the leaderboard until the closing stages when Schneider overtook her with a mark of 80.233 percent for a fabulous test with Showtime FRH. Still to come when competition resumes on Tuesday are team-mates Sonke Rothenberger aboard Cosmo and the legendary Isabell Werth aboard Bella Rose.
“I’m very happy to be on this team, I’m proud to be here and I’m very happy with my test!” said double-Olympian Schneider. Schneider described Showtime FRH’s performance by having “some very, very good parts, and in other parts, he was a bit nervous, but altogether I am happy to have this result for the team and to be here – and to have a fit horse!” she added.
The 13-year-old gelding with which she won team gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is making a very significant comeback after taking nine months off due to an injury that occurred in 2018.
“Showtime was two years out, but at the beginning of this year we started him again and he’s getting better and better – in his concentration he was very good at the German Championships [in June] and he was very, very good in Aachen [in July], so it’s very emotional for me to have this horse under me again, and to feel how motivated he is!” she explained.
A superb personal-best Grand Prix score of 76.351 percent from Gareth Hughes and Classic Briolinca helped put Great Britain into the silver-medal-spot going into the second day. “I couldn’t be happier!” he said at Monday evening’s press conference.
“She’s had her injuries as well, she’s had a stop-start career at Grand Prix so she’s still quite inexperienced, but we’ve had a good season up to this. She suffers sometimes from nerves, she’s usually not very good at halting or walking, but today she was excellent. She was focused so I just had to point, keep her head up and use my leg when I needed to – she took care of the rest!” said the rider who was a member of Britain’s silver-medal-winning team at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Caen, France.
Hughes compatriot, 23-year-old Charlotte Fry, produced a stunning senior championship debut to put 74.317 percent on the board with Dark Legend earlier in the day. “Lottie did a great job, her first championship and she’s so young, she has nerves of steel….she’s another Charlotte (Dujardin)! She laid down a really good score to start with, and that always gives the second rider confidence,” commented Hughes. “It’s a long day to hang around and wait and it’s a big build-up to going into the arena but we’re in a good position, and now it’s up to the two famous Brits to come out tomorrow and show what they can do!” he pointed out, referring to the remaining two British team members Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester.
Sweden lies third going into the second day of action following a 74.224 percent for pathfinders Antonia Ramel with Brother de Jeu and 75.466 percent from Therese Nilshagen riding Dante Weltino OLD. “I’m not super happy with my own ride today because I made a very big mistake in the one-tempis,” explained Nilshagen, who is sitting in the individual fourth spot behind Hughes. “I think I must have done something wrong, and that cost us a lot of points and that’s a pity….but the rest was quite good and I hope that my team-mates will be much better than I was so we’ll see!” she added Monday evening.
Final placings, however, are all still very much up to play for, with The Netherlands lying a close fourth ahead of Denmark in fifth, Portugal in sixth, Switzerland in seventh, Spain in eighth and Russia in ninth place. Apart from the European medals up for grabs, there is also massive tension between the countries that have not yet qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as they battle for the three places on offer in the European team contest.
Chasing down those three spots are Denmark, Portugal and Switzerland along with Ireland, France, Austria, Belgium and Finland – the latter five nations holding 10th to 14th places on the team leaderboard going into Tuesday’s medal-deciding second-half of the competition. A total of 15 nations started Monday but the three-member side from Luxembourg are now out of contention after elimination for their pathfinder, Nicolas Wagner (Quater Back Junior).
Teams will return on Tuesday for part 2 of the Grand Prix before moving on to the Grand Prix Special on Thursday. Para Dressage competition will begin on Wednesday with the Grade 2 individual test.
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