Germany stays centre stage this week as Europe’s top Dressage athletes and horses descend on Hof Kasselman in Hagen where the FEI Dressage European Championships 2021 kicks off tomorrow morning.
All the pressure will be on the home performers, because not only are they defending champions but they showed just how tough they are to beat when raiding the medal table at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this summer, topping the teams, taking Grand Prix Special gold and silver, and all the podium places in the Freestyle.
Perhaps one of the biggest questions of the week will be whether the lady known as “The Queen”, the inimitable Isabell Werth who has more medals to her name than many people have had hot dinners, will be overshadowed by team-mate Jessica von Bredow-Werndl who has just taken over the number one spot in the Dressage world rankings with TSF Dalera BB.
Von Bredow-Werndl brings the same magical mare with which she couldn’t be bettered in Tokyo, throwing down the biggest score in the Grand Prix and then setting a new Olympic record in the Grand Prix Special which decided the team medals before posting a massive 91.732 to win the Freestyle. But Werth can be guaranteed to come out with all guns blazing when she steps into the arena with her mare Weihegold.
The FEI Dressage European Championships for Seniors took place in Hagen once before, back in 2005 when Germany’s Heike Kemmer (Bonaparte), Hubertus Schmidt (Wansuela Suerte), Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff (Sterntaler) and Klaus Husenbeth (Piccolino) claimed the team title. Another of the sport’s great legends, The Netherlands’ Anky van Grunsven, took individual double-gold with Salinero that year, and Isabell Werth and Satchmo took silver in the Special.
Hagen has also been a happy hunting ground for some of the British team lining out this week. It’s less than five months since Charlotte Dujardin and her lovely little gelding Gio announced their very definite arrival to the top end of the sport when winning the CDI4* Freestyle at the German venue while compatriot, Charlotte Fry, lined up fourth with Everdale in the same class.
At just 10 years old Gio is already making a huge impact and Dujardin, who dominated the FEI European Championship at the height of her career with the great Valegro in 2013 and again in 2015, will be keen to continue the horse’s development.
While Team Germany bring only one of their Olympic horses - Dalera - the British are fielding their full Tokyo squad, and they are not here just to sit in the sunshine that has blessed this part of Germany for the last few weeks.
The Horse Inspection took place today and five have been held over for re-inspection at 07.00 tomorrow. They are Beirao (Duarte Nogueira, POR), Bufranco (Charlotte Heering, DEN), Embajador SG (Nausicaa Maroni, ITA), Esporim (Anna Merveldt, IRL) and Poseydon (Anna Diachenko, UKR).
The action gets underway tomorrow morning at 08.30 with the Team Competition which will continue on Wednesday. A total of 71 starters are listed and amongst the big names on the opening day are The Netherlands’ Adelinde Cornelissen (Governor-Str) and Marlies van Baalen (Go Legend), Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald (Atterupgaards Orthilia), Sweden’s Jeanna Hogberg (Lorenzo), Germany’s Dorothee Schneider (Faustus) and Helen Langehanenberg (Annabelle) and Great Britain’s Gareth Hughes (Sintano van Hof Olympia) and Charlotte Fry (Everdale).
Don’t miss a hoofbeat…..