Dressage Team Competition: day one round up

Dressage Team Competition: day one round up

It was a day of mixed fortunes for Britain’s two debutantes in the ECCO FEI European Dressage Championships in Herning, Denmark.  First to go for us and second of the competition was Gareth Hughes with Jane Brewin’s DV Stenjkers Nadonna for their first appearance in British team colours.  The chestnut mare by Donnerschlag can be fiery but her recent Nations Cup team appearances at Rotterdam and Hickstead with strong scores clearly showed that she was the one to step into the gap left after the withdrawal of Laura Tomlinson and Mistral Hojris.

‘Donna’ warmed up well but on entering the imposing MCH stadium, the atmosphere and sense of occasion got to her. Gareth used all his experience to ride as sympathetically as possible but the disappointment was clear even before his final mark of 60.866% was announced.

Gareth commented; “That was the worst test she’s done for three years.  We’ve had a great year, she’s just gone better and better and we’ve had two amazing Nations Cup performances so hopes were high but the tension just got to her.  She’s a beautiful mare and she did try her hardest but it all got the better of her today.”

The score then put added pressure on our second rider to keep Britain amongst the leaders.  With Jon and Julie Deverill’s Half Moon Delphi, Michael Eilberg was certainly thrown in at the deep end today and answered every question and coped brilliantly with the mammoth task.   A score of 72.264% put the combination in the mix and in turn Britain’s team hopes back on track.

A delighted Michael said; “I arrived hoping to match my personal best of 73% (at Hartpury CDI3* in July this year) which I suppose is a big ask at your first Championship so I’m happy with my score.  I went in not knowing how hard to push after Gareth’s test with the risk that my mare could boil over too.  I had to think of the team as it was a big atmosphere in there so rode conservatively to start and as our confidence grew, she began to enjoy it – we both did.  Afterwards, dad didn’t talk to me in German so I knew instantly it wasn’t too bad!  I’m chuffed to bits with how she coped and we put down a good marker for the team; I really love that mare and I can be braver with her next time.  Now Carl and Charlotte have got to fly!”

The duo end day one in fourth place individually with Germany in the ascendancy as veteran maestro Isabel Werth leads on 75.213% with Don Johnson FRH  and Fabienne Lutkemeir and D’Agostino 5 second on 73.237%.  Andreas Helgstrand flew the home flag for Denmark with 72.72% aboard Akeem Foldager for third spot.  After two riders, the leaders in the team competition are Germany with hosts Denmark in second and The Netherlands in third.