Rotterdam, Netherlands – Aug. 20, 2019 – Germany, under the direction of Chef d’Equipe Klaus Roeser, won the gold medal in Team Dressage competition at the Longines FEI European Championships on Tuesday in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The win marks the 24th time Germany has topped the podium and the seventh time world champion Isabell Werth has received team gold as anchor rider at the championships.
In a last-minute surprise, the home team from the Netherlands took the silver medal, and Sweden were awarded the bronze, after Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain was eliminated post-ride due to a safety check violation, bumping her team, who had been in a lock for second, down to fourth place.
In the battle for 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games qualification, Denmark, Ireland, and Portugal secured spots. Judy Reynolds of Ireland, who scored a personal best in day two of the Grand Prix, helped her team not only qualify but nail down the second spot, beating Portugal by less than 1 percent.
Much was at stake on day two, with Germany wondering if they would maintain their commanding lead and three teams, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark, vying for the bronze medal. As well as the Tokyo qualifications, only the top 30 individuals over the two days of Grand Prix testing would advance to the Grand Prix Special, with a chance to compete in the Freestyle at the end of the week for individual medals.
In true Dutch fashion, the weather was fickle on Tuesday morning, with many combos in the early part of the competition having to ride in a driving rain before the clouds parted for the latter half of the show.
Well into Tuesday’s competition, Germany continued to dominate, with Dorothee Schneider’s score of 80.233 percent from Monday staying at the top of the leaderboard. Young teammate Sönke Rothenberger put up a big score of 79.084 percent aboard Cosmo, and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl’s first-round score of 76.894 percent was a nice safety net. With Isabell Werth, the world’s top Dressage rider, still to go, the gold looked like a sure thing for the Germans.
Denmark guaranteed themselves a trip to Tokyo after Daniel Bachmann Andersen’s ride, which saw his team finish on 228.541 points. But the Danes would have to wait it out for bronze medal possibilities until the very last rider had gone.
There were some incredible moments in the final rotation of riders, starting with Judy Reynolds’ performance with Vancouver K. Reynolds surely felt the pressure to boost Ireland’s score, especially after her teammate Heike Holstein, 12 times the Irish champion, had a bike accident just hours before her Grand Prix ride on day 1, making it difficult to break 70 percent as she had hoped.
Reynolds came through, surpassing her personal best over the last two seasons by over 1 point, earning collected marks of 76.351 percent and leaving the ring absolutely ecstatic knowing Ireland was sending their first dressage team ever to the Olympic Games.
Soon after, Maria Caetano of Portugal was able to stave off France in their bid for Tokyo, posting a 72.329 percent aboard the gorgeous grey Lusitano stallion Coroado and sending her team to the Olympics as well.
Fourth from last, world number one Isabell Werth and Bella Rose didn’t disappoint, making it clear why Werth is a multiple medal winner in virtually every major competition and the current FEI Dressage World Cup™ defending champion. Smiling throughout her test, Werth earned 9.9 scores for her piaffe and transition, ultimately posting 85.652 percent, giving Germany a total of 244.969 percent and the Team gold medal.
The spotlight was on Sweden’s Patrik Kittel next, who is known for his amazing Freestyle performances but also has his share of Grand Prix victories under his belt, including an FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ win this past season at Compiegne. Kittel’s walk on Well Done de la Roche CMF lost points, but he more than made up for it with his piaffe and passage work, eliciting a mark of 78.261 percent and throwing down a gauntlet for Edward Gal of the Netherlands, the last rider of the day. Swedish teammates Therese Nilshagen and sisters Antonia and Juliette Ramel also put in solid performances for the team score.
Before Gal’s turn in the arena, however, two-time Olympic Champion and two-time World Cup winner Charlotte Dujardin had her test to ride with Mount St John Freestyle. The crowd in the Rotterdam Arena fell absolutely silent as she made her way down the centerline, erupting in cheers at the end as she scored 81.910 percent, a hair above the combo’s personal best in the Grand Prix. It looked like Dujardin and teammates Charlotte Fry, Gareth Hughes, and Carl Hester, who put up marks of 78.323 percent earlier in the day, would be snagging a silver medal.
Gal worked extremely hard to overcome Kittel’s score for Sweden, in spite of previous strong performances from Dutch riders Hans Peter Minderhoud, Anne Meulendijks, and Emmelie Scholtens. As his test progressed with Glock’s Zonik N.O.P., the score was back and forth and so close that only in the end, when his marks of 78.758 were posted, did the Dutch dream of a bronze become a reality.
However, as the athletes readied themselves for the final medal ceremony, the team from Great Britain saw a terrible turn of events, as Charlotte Dujardin wound up eliminated after blood was discovered on her mare’s flank by a steward doing a standard welfare check on the horse after their ride. This meant Charlotte Fry’s score from Monday would not be the discard as planned, and Great Britain would have to settle for fourth place. The Netherlands were moved up into the silver medal slot, and Sweden got on the podium after all with a bronze.
Team Denmark finished in fifth place, followed by Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and Russia, in that order, Luxembourg having been eliminated on Monday.
In the end, Germany held onto the top three slots, with Werth, Schneider, and Rothenberger taking the 1-2-3 in individual scores. Edward Gal finished fourth, with Daniel Bachmann Andersen and Carl Hester rounding out the top six.
Riders with scores of 70.171 percent and higher will be advancing to the Grand Prix Special on Thursday. Stay tuned to FEI TV to see how your favourite combos fare in the Special and who will win the Individual Dressage medals at the 2019 Longines FEI European Championships.
Individual Results (in the team competition):
1. Isabell Werth/GER/Bella Rose 2/85.652
2. Dorothee Schneider/GER/Showtime FRH/80.233
3. Sönke Rothenberger/GER/Cosmo/79.084
4. Edward Gal/NED/Glock’s Zonik N.O.P./78.758
5. Daniel Bachmann Andersen/DEN/Blue Hors Zack/78.665
6. Carl Hester/GBR/Hawtins Delicato/78.323
7. Patrik Kittel/SWE/Well Done de la Roche CMF/78.261
8. Catherine Dufour/DEN/Atterupgaards Cassidy/77.143
9. Jessica von Bredow-Werndl/GER/TSF Dalera BB/76.894
10. Gareth Hughes/GBR/Calssic Briolinca/76.351
11. Judy Reynolds/IRL/Vancouver K/76.351
12. Juliette Ramel/SWE/Buriel K.H./76.196
Final Team result:
1. Germany – 244.969
2. Netherlands – 230.140
3. Sweden – 229.923