Edward Gal wiping away tears as he leaves the arena after Moorlands Totilas posted a world record Grand Prix score at the 2009 European Championships. © Ken Braddick/

A record of 21 nations aim to compete in the 25th FEI European Dressage Championships scheduled for Rotterdam Aug. 17-21.

Full teams from 18 nations and individuals from another three countries have indicated their intentions 60 days before the start of the championships being hosted in Rotterdam for the first time.

The previous record for the Europeans was set in 1997 when 19 nations participated in Verden, Germany. Arnhem in The Netherlands hosted the largest ever Open European Championships in 1999 when riders from 25 nations competed.

“It is fitting that we mark the 25th year of the FEI European Dressage Championships with such an impressive entry,” said Trond Asmyr, Director of Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage at the FEI.

“Since Freestyle-to-Music was elevated to Olympic level, the popularity of dressage has risen dramatically and it’s no surprise that tickets for the Final at the impressive Kralingse Forest site sold out soon after they went on sale. Fans will need to be quick if they want to see their European heroes perform in August.

“This year’s Championships will also serve as a London 2012 qualifier for three Olympic Groups, so the teams that did not go through at last year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games will be aiming to book their ticket to next year’s Games.”

Since 1963, the European Dressage Championships have taken place every two years in the middle of the Olympic cycle and have been held since 1963.

The three best ranked teams from Olympic Groups A, B and C (North & South Western Europe, Central & Eastern Europe and Central Asia) at the 2011 FEI European Dressage Championships, excluding those already qualified at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky last year–The Netherlands, Great Britain and Germany–will qualify for the London Olympics next year.

The 18 nations which have already indicated their intention to field full teams at the FEI European Dressage Championships 2011 are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France,  Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Sweden and Ukraine.

The three nations planning to send individuals are Czech Republic, Turkey and Hungary.

The host nation, which lost its 2009 European Championships standard bearer, Totilas, to Germany suffered another blow with the confirmation that Hunter Douglas Sunrise ridden by Imke Schellekens Bartels will not have recovered sufficiently from an injury to be a prospect for the Dutch team.

For further information on the Championships and ticket sales click here.