It couldn't have been closer: Kristina Bröring-Sprehe gave the performance of her life with Desperados. She almost won gold. In the end, the 29-year-old ranked second with a personal best score of 88.804, just behind the defending champion, Charlotte Dujardin who finished on a score of 89.054. Four of the seven international judges placed the British Olympic gold medallist first, three of the judges had hung the gold medal around the neck of Bröring-Sprehe.
Dujardin and Valegro presented the freestyle routine, which they performed at the World Cup Final in Las Vegas earlier this spring. The reigning World Champion and Olympic gold medallist performed a fantastic round to the film music of 'Taming dragons made easy' until she made two big mistakes in the two tours of the flying changes. "I overrode the flying changes," she said immediately admitting that it was her mistake and was full of praise for her gold partner, Valegro. "It was a long, strenuous week for all of the horses here. I am overjoyed and very proud of him." She grinned mischievously when asked about the close result. "The fact that Kristina is breathing down my neck, makes the sport even more exciting." She explained that Valegro would have two to three weeks off now and then she would gradually start to get him ready for Rio. "And I hope that I will get my flying changes sorted out by then," laughed the two-time gold medal winner of the FEI European Championships Aachen 2015.
Bröring-Sprehe enchanted the crowds with an immaculate, harmonious freestyle routine in Aachen's Main Stadium. "That was the best freestyle I have ever ridden," explained the 29-year-old overjoyed. "Desperados was unbelievable and riding here in this atmosphere in Aachen was fantastic!" She entered the ring as the penultimate rider and knew after her super ride: Everything is possible! Standing next to her team colleague, Isabell Werth, she watched Dujardin's ride in anticipation and explained laughing. "Isabell practically held my hand, because I was so nervous." She was annoyed for a second, because gold had been within her grasp, but …"I am satisfied all round and who knows, perhaps I can do it even better next year," she said grinning in the direction of the European Champion, Dujardin. After celebrating team gold and two individual silver medals, Kristina Bröring-Sprehe will continue celebrating next week. Her church wedding with Christian Bröring is namely scheduled for next weekend – a further highlight in the summer of 2015 for the two-time Vice European Champion.
Bronze went to the Spanish rider, Beatriz Ferrer-Salt with Delgado, who finished on a score of 82.714 percent – perhaps that was the biggest surprise at these European Championships. The Vice World Champion of 2002 was totally perplex about her result. "We travelled to Aachen with the aim of qualifying the team for Rio. Which we succeeded in doing. Then, in the Spécial I wanted to qualify for the Freestyle. That worked too. But the fact that I am taking a medal home with me, is simply incredible!" She has been riding her 14-year-old partner, Delgado, for eight years, but she has encountered many ups and downs with him over the years. "He was constantly injured. I missed the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, because he was injured. I couldn't ride in London, because he was injured. I kept having to rest him." The veterinarians had told her: "He won't recover.“ But she worked out a "reha programme" for him over one and a half years, together with a chiropractician and a masseur. Since then he has been consistently healthy, he is in top form and won the European Championships bronze medal with a wonderfully elastic freestyle round here in Aachen. The music for her freestyle routine is an own creation of a friend of hers, who composed it especially for her and Delgado.
According to the German Chef d'Equipe, Klaus Roeser, Isabell Werth's ride with Don Johnson was outstanding. "If anyone had told me that I could almost win a medal here with Don Johnson, I would never have believed it," beamed Werth. "To finish fourth, just scraping by the bronze medal was a fantastic result. I am very proud of Johnny. It is a great feeling to have a "second weapon" up my sleeve for Rio in addition to Bella Rose." Werth was awarded a score of 82.482 for her successful ride. Third, fourth and fifth places in the Freestyle competition at these European Championships were very close: with only 0.303 percent separating them – which is a sign for the top quality of the European top pairs.
The fans of the Portuguese dressage sport celebrated a premiere. A dressage rider from Portugal competed in a European Championships Final for the first time ever. Goncalo Carvalho has already taken part at World Championships, Olympic Games and European Championships in the past, but he never made it into the freestyle final before. "I am very, very proud!" beamed the 33-year-old. His goal is to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio, during the show in Aachen he has got a step closer to this target.
The spectators were able to 'co-judge' the European Championships competitions in Aachen via an app that was jointly developed by the organisers and the software manufacturer, SAP. Their result differed slightly to that of the judges: Gold went to Kristina Bröring-Sprehe with a score of 86.714 percent, silver went to Dujardin on a score of 83.015 percent and the crowd in Aachen awarded the bronze medal to Isabell Werth (82.183 percent).
38,000 spectators watched the European Championships Freestyle live in the Main Stadium in Aachen. The Show Director Frank Kemperman was thus very pleased that he had decided early enough to stage the dressage competitions in the large Main Stadium - as was the case during the 2006 World Equestrian Games. In total, 96,000 spectators experienced the four dressage days of the FEI European Championships Aachen 2015 live at the Soers.
Nobody, hit the nail on the head better than Isabell Werth: "These were fantastic Championships full of many surprises!"
Visit www.aachen2015.de for information and results