An outstanding FEI European Championships Aachen 2015 came to a close with a magnificent individual final, the HAVENS Horsefeed-Prize. The top 20 reiners from all over Europe competed to win one of the coveted medals, whereby Germany was represented in the Final by five riders. Individual gold ultimately went to Italy, which had already secured team gold: Giovanni Masi de Vargas scored 222 points with Dance Little Spook (Smart Spook x Sailors Dance, owned by Quarter Dream). Just one point behind him, Grischa Ludwig took the silver medal with Stephanie Madaus‘ Shine My Gun (Colonels Smoking Gun x Shiners Mistress). Bronze went to Elias Ernst with USS N Dun It (Reminic N Dunit x USS Enterprise, owner: Christine Wilinski) on a score of 219.
Grischa Ludwig and Giovanni Masi de Vargas and their horses were the clear favourites after the team competition. Both achieved a score of 221.5 in the team classification and were practically awarded the same marks by the judges for the individual manoeuvres. As the penultimate rider, Grischa Ludwig began his final run with two exemplary spins, which were awarded a +1.5 by some of the judges. Excellent circles and stops followed – unfortunately, there was a slight misunderstanding between Ludwig and his 8-year-old American Quarter Horse stallion before the last stop. Shine My Gun already wanted to perform the stop at the centre pole. Grischa Ludwig managed to deter him and performed a good, last stop, but unfortunately this cost him half a minus point per judge and ultimately the gold medal. His final score: 221 points.
Giovanni Masi de Vargas was the last rider to compete and he steered his 7-year-old American Quarter Horse mare, Dance Little Spook, through pattern 9 in a smooth and consistent run with plenty of finesse. As the pair slid into their third excellent stop, it was clear, who had won the European Championship title: With a score of 222, the just 22-year-old professional trainer from Siena, who claimed his first FEI gold medal in 2009 at Junior level, had collected his ninth FEI European Championships gold medal and with it also €2,500 in prize-money. "This was my first event at senior level and then this fabulous victory - it is absolutely indescribable, what this means to me," beamed Giovanni Masi de Vargas. "It is an incredible feeling riding in this tremendous arena in front of thousands of spectators."
Grischa Ludwig was understandably visibly disappointed at the close result, but the Swabian rider took it very sportingly: "It was a very close final and my friend here Giovanni was simply better this time. He rode very consistently and he simply deserved the victory." The national coach, Nico Hörmann, was of the same opinion. "Grischa had the problem that his horse seemed to be slightly groggy yesterday, so we decided to give the stallion a day off. Today, Shine My Gun was top fit again, but the short break slightly affected the fine-tuning, which led to the anticipation before the last stop. But I am delighted about the performance of our German riders. Elias Ernst more than deserved to win the bronze medal after his splendid performance, and with Volker Schmitt in sixth place and Verena Klein in eight place, we have four riders under the top 10!"
The young Austrian reiner, Klaus Lechner with Cody Rooster Delmaso (Ricochet Rooster x Made of Lacy, owner: Julia Gaupmann) just missed out on a medal by half a point. The pair gave an outstanding performance with a stylish and fine run, which was awarded a score of 218.5 points, which meant fourth place.
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