Each dressage championship has its own thrills! Today British Charlotte Dujardin and her Dutch bred Valegro (by Negro) created a great buzz of excitement. What a test they showed! The easiness, harmony with his rider and powerful clear movements were an example for dressage. All lectures were done quite natural while the powerful and still inexperienced gelding performed its test without one single mistake. Just like Adelinde Cornelissen and Parzival surprised friend and enemy by her flawless Grand Prix test at the EC 2009 in Windsor, just like Laura Bechtolsheimer and Mistral Hojris took your breath away in Grand Prix at WEG Kentucky 2010, in the same way the flawless delightful test of Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro will be in the memory for ever.
"It was my personal best indeed", Charlotte almost shy said afterwards when rewarded with a total average of 78,83%. It easily could have been the 80,11% of Stephen Clarke or the 82,92% of chair of the judges Markowski. A delight! In her first season at Grand Prix level, Dujardin is already a sensation. "This feels amazing, I'm thrilled even to get here, very excited, very keen and wanting to do well", Charlotte said. Asked if she felt under huge pressure this morning, she explained that Valegro had done all his work to perfection during the warm-up so she was amazed when he produced the same result in his test. But her attitude helps her a lot. "I don't see going into the centre line of the arena any different from riding on the centre line at home. I forget about where I am and I just concentrate", she explained at ease. It put the British fair on course for team gold for the first time in the 25-year history of the European Championships.
Germany lies second after the first half of the nations Cup Grand Prix, heading the third-placed defending champions from The Netherlands by only just over a single point, so the battle for silver and bronze promises to be a close-fought affair. "On the contrary, the battle is not over yet and is totally open!", Wojciech Markowski promised.
At the start of the field, Helen Langehanenberg (GER) and Damon Hill NRW had a slightly disappointing ride. Damon Hill had no clear energetic movements all the time and sometimes lost a leg. Unfortunately Damon Hill had mistakes in the one tempi changes and at the last centreline some hesitations in passage was showing, while the impulsion overall was lacking a bit. The normally quite strong passage of Don Perignon and Christoph Koschel now lacked impulsion and power and the pair also had mistakes in the one tempi changes. Christoph Koschel admitted that he had hoped for more indeed.
The very last to go today was Hans Peter Minderhoud showing Exquis Nadine. This test also showed some hesitations and mistakes. The centre line has become something of an issue for the mare, now 16, which really lost her cool in the closing stages of their test during last year's Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky. "Going down the centre line I never know what she is going to do!" the rider admitted. He held her together, but, as he said "I hoped to do a little better". The pair earned a mark of 70.912 which, when added to the impressive 70.578 from relative newcomer Sander Marijnissen riding Moedwill, brought the Dutch tally to 141.490, just 1.033 behind the German first-day total.
Apart from the team medals, also three Olympic teamtickets are at stage. Denmark, Sweden and Spain are good on their way, as the results show. As a fact it's quite amazing to see the Danish strength, in breeding and in sport. Their good horses show very good performances, starting with the juniors and Young Riders and impressing at the seniors as well.
All eyes are now, however, on the British going into tomorrow's second-half of the team event. The British took team silver at the FEI European Championships in Lipica, Sloveniain 1993, Faurie was a member of the side that claimed bronze at Hickstead in 2003 and two years ago, again on their home turf at Windsor, they were silver medallists once again. It seems the path to gold is clearly laid out before them. Let's see tomorrow whether Hester and Bechtolsheimer take them the rest of the way.
Team Result (at halfway stage of team championship):
1. Great Britain 149.256
(Elmegardens Marquis (Emile Faurie) 70.426, Valegro (Charlotte Dujardin) 78.830;)
2. Germany 142.523
( Damon Hill NRW (Helen Langehanenberg) 71.079, Donnperignon (Christoph Koschel) 71.444)
3. The Netherlands 141.490
(Moedwill (Sander Marijnissen) 70.578, Exquis Nadine (Hans Peter Minderhoud) 70.912)
4. Denmark 138.602
(Jonstrupgaardens Raneue (Lisbeth Seierskilde) 69.970, Exquis Clearwater (Anne van Olst) 68.632)
5. Sweden 134.787
(Bocelli 1044 (Rose Mathisen) 68.024, Lennox (Cecilia Dorselius) 66.763)
6. Spain 134.742
(Faberge (Beatriz Ferrer-Salat) 67.742, Jade de MV (Claudio Castilla Ruiz) 66.900)
7. Switzerland 130.851
(Ronaldo 11 (Markus Graf) 64.696, Rokoko N (Elisabeth Eversfield-Koch) 66.155)
8. France 128.526
(Le Guerrier (Anne-Sophie Serre) 65.152, Passe Partout (Sebastien Duperdu) 63.374)
9. Finland 127.812
(Axis TSF (Terhi Stegars) 68.131, MD Waterford (Alexandra Malstrom) 59.681)
10. Belgium 127.402
(Question de Liberte (Johan Zagers) 62.584, Donnerfee (Claudia Fassaert) 64.818)
11. Norway 124.149
(Orlando (Cathrine Rasmussen) 63.906, Carte d'Or (Camilla Kalseth) 60.243)
12. Poland 68.650
(Martini (Beata Stremier) 69.650)
13. Portugal 67.173
(Xiripiti (Maria Caetano) 67.173)
14. Austria 66.474
(Fabriano 58 (Renate Voglsang) 66.474)
15. Italy 61.292
(Harmonia (Ester Soldi) 61.292)
16. Russian Federation 55.699
(Vodevil (Yulia Vinnitskaja) 55.699)
Find results at www.dressagedirect.com and at the organiser's website at www.ecdressage2011.com
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