The Dutch and the British seem to be record breaking in each others countries! Two years ago in Windsor the Dutch claimed the golden honours, now in Rotterdam Britain claimed team gold for the first time in the 25-year history of the FEI European Dressage Championships. It's not strange for Carl Hester to surprise at European Championships. Who does still remember the 'airy and fairy' Escapado, who became the best British Horse at the EC 2005 in Hagen? 44-year old Hester smiled and said that he was too happy to have found Uthopia before his retirement and to be able now to have, hold and keep him. "Some of us have seen Great Britain through the dark days - 20 years ago a result like this would never have seemed possible! So it's a truly historic moment for us, and considering the Olympic Games at home next year, London should be a sell-out now!"
Hester said Uthopia even showed more self carriage than he had done in the WDM show in Hickstead. "He felt totally easy to ride and really light in my hand today. The self carriage couldn't have been better I guess. He's a 10-year-old but he behaves more like an old man!" Uthopia se is jointly-owned by Carl Hester and former Irish international event rider Sasha Stewart.
"This by far was my most exciting championship since I am judging championships from 1991", chair of the judges Wojciech Markowski said, praising the competitors and especially the British gold winning team for the fabulous moments they had presented.
As explained in our most recent newsletter of today, Carl Hester and Uthopia had produced a dream performance (82,568%). The advantage of the British was enormous. Even without anchor Laura Bechtolsheimer they already were certain to win the gold. "The British riders have been looking around and have taken the best of all riding styles around them to produce and show the finest moments of dressage with a very gentle, precise and easy style of riding", FEI chair of the judges Ghislain Fouarge complimented.
And it was all about fine riding indeed today. Apart from Carl Hester, the finest rides came from Patrik Kittel and Adelinde Cornelissen. Patrik Kittel showed a wonderful light and easy contact with KWPN stallion Watermill Scandic HBC and nothing seemed to be a problem.
Last rider Adelinde Cornelissen showed all harmony and brilliance you could dream for. Only in the zigzag Parcival lost its attention (the sight of a camera?). This was the more remarkable as Cornelissen had to use all her natural calmness during the delay the competition suffered because of the thunderstorm and lightning strike on the showgrounds, that led to a temporary halt to the competition. "It wasn't the perfect preparation of course, you don't plan on a half-hour of walking, but you have to deal with it. We all three went to the indoor arena", Cornelissen commented.
Competition today started with Isabell Werth showing her young and talented powerhouse El Santo in her competitive style. It all was quite convincing, only one lecture failed completely: the piaffe. Isabell felt very sorry about it. She had to admit that she didn't expect the British to be this strong and that she will take all efforts to improve the piaffe in the future.
Team-mate Matthias Alexander Rath was pleased with his score of 79.453 with Totilas, the horse that set the world of Dressage alight with spectacular performances for Holland's Edward Gal during the FEI European Championships at Windsor (GBR) two years ago. The 27-year-old German has the unenviable task of following in Gal's record-breaking footsteps. The pair showed themselves better and more precise than in Aachen and Matthias said at Dutch television he felt heartily welcomed by the sport minded Dutch audience. "Of course this has been a very exciting time for me and there is always pressure riding Totilas, but I have a lot of fun with him every day I ride him. The mistake on the last centreline was mine, I just wanted too much."
Edward Gal, the hero of the 2009 Championships, now was the man who provided the drop-score for the defending champions from The Netherlands. Unfortunately Sisther de Jeu lost the relaxation she showed in the warming up in the arena. "Too bad. Probably we need another year practicing", Edward said.
By the time last-line British rider, Bechtolsheimer, went into action the fate of the 2011 gold medals was already decided so she was only riding for an individual finishing spot that would earn her a place amongst the top-30 who will line out in Saturday's Grand Prix Special for the Individual medals. That didn't take the edge off her desire to do well however. The good form from Windsor and Kentucky unfortunately could not be repeated. "The noise and the atmosphere got to him and he was really strong today. He was stronger than he has ever been actually. I hope to improve the next days."
Three teams qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games as a result of their placings in the FEI European Championships 2011 team event: Sweden, Spain and Denmark who finished fourth, fifth and sixth. The three leading nations - the British gold medallists, the silver medallists from Germany and the bronze medallists from The Netherlands previously achieved Olympic qualification at last year's Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky.
GOLD - Great Britain 238.678
Elmegardens Marquis (Emile Faurie) 70.426, Valegro (Charlotte Dujardin) 78.830, Uthopia (Carl Hester) 82.568, Mistral Hojris (Laura Bechtolsheimer) 77.280.
SILVER - Germany 226.110
Damon Hill NRW (Helen Langehanenberg) 71.079, Donnperignon (Christoph Koschel) 71.444, El Santo NRW (Isabell Werth) 75.213, Totilas (Matthias Alexander Rath) 79.453.
BRONZE - The Netherlands 222.645
Moedwill (Sander Marijnissen) 70.578, Exquis Nadine (Hans Peter Minderhoud) 70.912, Sisther de Jeu (Edward Gal) 70.912, Jerich Parzival (Adelinde Cornelissen) 81.155.
4. Sweden 214.437
Bocelli 1044 (Rose Mathisen) 68.024, Lennix (Cecilia Dorselius) 66.763, Favourit (Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven) 69.939, Watermill Scandic HBC (Patrik Kittel) 76.474.
5. Spain 211.580
Faberge (Beatriz Ferrer-Salat) 67.842, Jade De MV (Claudio Castilla Ruiz) 66.900, Fuego de Cardenas (Juan Manuel Munoz Diaz) 73.404, Prestige (Jordi Domingo Coll) 70.334.
6. Denmark 209.985
Jonstrupgaardens Raneue (Lisbeth Seierskilde) 69.970, Exquis Clearwater (Anne Van Olst) 68.632, Blue Hors Romanov (Sune Hansen) 67.660, Digby (Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein) 71.383.
7. Finland 206,770
8. Austria 206,778
9. Poland 206,505
12. Portugal 201,155
13. Italy 199,681
14. Switzerland 198,921
16. France 193,556
17.Russian federation 184,179