Jessica von Bredow-Werndl wins gold in the European Championships freestyle - silver for Charlotte Fry and bronze goes to Charlotte Dujardin
Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Dalera dance to their fourth European Championship individual gold medal
Sold-out house, bomb atmosphere, exciting sport and Queen Dalera - ingredients for a great final day at the FEI European Dressage and Para-Dressage Championships 2023. Whether Portugal, Belgium, France, or wherever, every performance was celebrated, mostly already on the last line. As Frederic Wandres - who unfortunately chose a wrong way once on his Bluetooth today, but still finished 9th with 84.568 percent - said, "The atmosphere is fantastic!" But the spectators were also offered a lot, not only by the medal winners, but also by the other pairs. For example by Therese Nilshagen from Sweden and her 16-year-old veteran Dante Weltino OLD, who set a new personal record with 86.132 percent and were celebrated like winners. Or by Isabell Werth and Quantaz, whom some spectators wanted to give intermediate applause for the transition from the piaffe directly into the canter pirouette - and later back again. Goosebumps! Standing ovations, 88.407 percent, personal record, temporary lead. The silver medal winners of the Grand Prix Special, Denmark's Nanna Skodborg Merrald and Zepter, were able to top this once again - despite mistakes in the flying changes: 89.546 percent, also a personal record.
Next up was the performance of the Olympic champions and defending champions, Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Dalera. It became quiet in the stadium. Then the French chansons that accompany the freestyle of the two sounded and Dalera began to dance. Full of lightness, full of harmony, full of joy. Reverent silence of the spectators. But then a collective groan when they made a mistake in the single changes. But they were able to make up for it on the so-called reserve line. Deafening cheers when the two came to a halt after a final line with a textbook piaffe and passage. How strict would the judges be? Not too much. 72 times the 10.0 was written in the protocol. The score was 92.818 percent, also a personal best, and of course the lead. But they were not yet the winners.
The next pair were the two with whom they had been compared too often in the run-up and whom they had so casually left behind in the previous tests: the British World Champions, Charlotte "Lottie" Fry and Glamourdale. How would the stallion show today? Answer: strong! Rhythmic passages and piaffes to Queen's "Another one bites the dust". Once cantered wrong. Annoying! But then the canter recitals with the expressive reinforcements and alternating turns of the black stallion as well as difficulties such as a double whole traversal with pirouettes each time when crossing the center line. And at the end once again piaffe and passage to "Another one bites the dust" under the rhythmic applause of the audience. That was good, really good! Would it be enough? Not quite, 92.379 percent, second place. For the time being.
Because the conclusion of the European Championships 2023 in Riesenbeck was made by the performance of Charlotte Dujardin and Imhotep, second here in the Grand Prix for the team classification, bronze medal winner of the Grand Prix Special. The two presented a trot tour where every single step was in sync with the music. World class. And this in the utmost naturalness of this only ten-year-old gelding. And not only here. Imhotep, "Pete", did not make a single false step today. A sensational freestyle, in the end it was rewarded with 91.396 percent and bronze.
So it was also clear: Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Dalera won their fourth European Championship individual gold, silver went to Charlotte Fry with Glamourdale. Three times over 90 percent! What a conclusion of this European Championships in Riesenbeck!
Before the final decision was made in the dressage stadium at the FEI European Dressage and Para-Dressage Championships in Riesenbeck, host and show president Ludger Beerbaum, Riesenbeck International General Manager and Show Director Karsten Lütteken as well as the FEI Director Dressage, Para-Dressage and Vaulting, Ronan Murphy (IRL), drew their show conclusion. Spontaneously, the most successful show rider of all times, Isabell Werth (GER), appeared for the interview.
QUOTES of the Top 5 FEI European Championship Dressage – Grand Prix Freestyle
Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER): „The mistake in the one-tempi-changes don’t annoy me, there’s no ride that annoys me, because the rest of the test was just super. Now it depends on what I’m focusing on. So I focus on the good stuff, but of course if the mistake in the ones wouldn’t have been, maybe it would’ve been a very very very high mark.”
Charlotte Fry (GBR): „I’m really really happy. I couldn’t be more pleased with him. To be that close to Jessica, I mean, it’s just a matter of small things and in fact it makes me more excited for next year. He was just incredible in there and I think it is such great sport today and it’s so exciting to have so many top horse and rider combinations up there.”
Charlotte Dujardin (GBR): “I’ve had a fantastic Championship. I mean, that’s the first time I’ve ever ridden my Freestyle to the music, I mean literally it was finished this week! So to go in there and perform it all off the way I have I’m absolutely delighted.”
Nanna Skodborg Merrald (DEN): „I’m very happy with everything, Zepter did everything he could. It’s a bit new for both of us to do the Freestyle. Today I could feel that right in there, also we’ve been here for a week now. He had a lot of energy but still you can just feel that the body starts to be empty now.”
Isabell Werth (GER): "I am super happy, it was just great! (...) I was happy that they recognized it. I started sometime at my first European Championships with Gigolo strong canter and then pirouette. That's what everyone does today, it's standard, so I tried to do something that no one else does in that form. And I think it succeeded at least in the combination and the number of difficulties."
RESULTS – FEI European Championship Dressage – Grand Prix Freestyle
- Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER), TSF Dalera BB 92.818%
- Charlotte Fry (GBR), Glamourdale 92.379%
- Charlotte Dujardin (GBR), Imhotep 91.396%
- Nanna Skodborg Merrald (DEN), Blue Hors Zepter 89.546%
- Isabell Werth (GER), DSP Quantaz 88.407%
Quotes of the organizers
Ludger Beerbaum, President of the Show
“I am very grateful and happy that we have been able to host successful European Championships. We are truly thankful for the opportunity, and for everyone who helped, supported, and contributed. We received positive feedback not only from the athletes but also from the media.“
Karsten Lütteken, Show Director
I want to start with a big thank you to all of you: to the media, to the FEI, to my team, and the athletes. I have the feeling that it was a real collaboration. Many people are involved in such a complex event like the European Championships, but it was a super collaboration between the FEI and all the others. That makes me really happy.
Number of visitors:
We are sold out today. We will have 3500 spectators on-site, and hopefully many more will watch on television and through the live streams. Over the last few days, we counted close to 12,000 people, which is more than we expected.
Ronan Murphy FEI Director Dressage and Para-Dressage
„It’s been fantastic Championships here in Riesenbeck and more than that: It’s been the people, Karsten and Ludger and the team, but also all of our staff, the collaborators, the volunteers, our athletes. It’s been a really fantastic Championship. You know, like all things you meet challenges, but it’s about how you deal with them and solve them. And this week, I have to say, no matter what has come to us, it’s been possible with this ‘can-do-attitude’. And I think it’s actually a changing point for our sport, to have such a level and we need to move the bar higher. And that’s what we want to aim for the future.”
On the “FN Info-Stewards”, who answered questions about the training in the Warm-Up arena from the spectators:
„When you look at the athletes across all of the disciplines, the dressage, the para, the different grades – the big thing is the bond between those athletes and their horse. It doesn’t matter which competition, there is such a bond there and sometimes we get so up on an outside perception that maybe someone genuinely feels inside but we need to explain and communicate them what is actually happening and allow them to see inside of our sport a littlebit. In think that’s really important. This initial from the German Federation I think is to be recommended and the more we can do of that the better for educating everybody of our sport.”
About AI in judging in the future:
“I think that AI and technology are always really interesting and developing fast. And I think it would be wrong to say that it’s either or, but these technologies we continue to review them and to enhance and assist. Our sport relies very strongly on our judges and I think the judging here this week has been absolutely fantastic and that’s really a key thing to ensure that it’s good sport. These technologies are there to assist, we use them in veterinary inspections, we use them in all sorts of ways, and I think if they add something to our sport, of cause we will look to that. But at the moment we are completely relying to the knowledge and expertise of our fabolous judging panels.”
Isabell Werths response to that:
“It’s very interesting to see how it improves and how we can use it as a tool and as an assistant for our judging system. There’s always something to get better at, there’s always something to discuss. And I think whatever we can use to make it more objective, to make it more transparent, that helps and would be a good idea.”