Holland’s Dana van Lierop & DJ Tiesto Stars of European Junior & Young Rider Champioships

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Dana van Lierop and DJ Tiesto secured a golden hat-trick for The Netherlands at the 2012 FEI European Dressage Championships for Young Riders and Juniors. © 2012 FEI/Valeria Streun

BERNE, Switzerland, July 15–Dana van Lierop was the show-stopper as The Netherlands scooped all gold in the Junior division, while Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour recorded a Danish double in the Young Riders at the 2012 FEI European Dressage Championships for Young Riders and Juniors which drew to a close in Berne, Switzerland Sunday.

Germany, so dominant when claiming five of the six titles on offer in 2011, took just a single title this time around when topping the Young Rider Teams.

The Championships were staged at The National Horse Center of Switzerland, a green oasis in the heart of Berne with stabling for over 200 horses, outdoor and indoor arenas. The centre was host to this same event 18 years ago.

A total of 52 competitors from 17 nations lined up this year–Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain, France, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine.

The Netherlands threw down the gauntlet when pipping Germany for Junior Team Gold.  Dana Van Lierop registered the highest score of the team competition with her 11 year old gelding DJ Tiesto, awarding her a mark of 77.405 per cent. And when this was added to 72.081 for Anotoinette ter Riele (Ziggy) and 71.973 per cent from Suzanne van de Ven (Donna Gracia)–Jeanine Nieuwenhuis and Hexagon’s Baldacci’s 67.703 per cent providing the discard–then the Dutch completed with a 2.78 point advantage over their German rivals. Denmark claimed the bronze another 11.73 marks further in arrears and the bronze medal.

In a class of 58 starters, the 17-year-old rider who took Freestyle gold at the FEI European Pony Championships in 2011, showed just why she felt so confident about moving up a grade this season with the family-owned horse she has been competing for the last two years.

She burst into tears when she realized she had taken Individual gold.

“It’s unbelievable!  I never expected to do so well because all the best riders are here and they are in great shape!” she said.

Her score of 77.184 per cent this time around put her more than two percentage points ahead of silver medallist Vivien Niemann who steered Wirsol’s Cipollini to a mark of 74.711 per cent with Niemann’s German team-mate, Vivian Scheve, slotting into Individual bronze medal position with Bellheim on a score of 74.184 per cent.

Sunday’s Freestyle victory was the icing on the cake–DJ Tiesto awarded the No. 1 spot by four of the five judges as van Lierop marched to the top of the lineup with a score of 81.850 per cent. The silver and bronze medals were reversed this time out–Germany’s Scheve standing on the second step when pinning Niemann into bronze separated by only 0.1 points. In a repeat of the Individual result, the Netherlands’ Antoinette ter Riele and Ziggy finished fourth.

Dutch Chef d’Equipe, Tinneke Bartels, said her Junior team’s success was “quite unexpected.”

“I’m over the moon,” she said, “a year ago we struggled but we’ve made great progress and the girls have been working extra hard over the last few months.”

In 2011, the talented Sanneke Rothenberger led a German whitewash of the Young Rider medal table, but it was a different story this

Sanneke produced the second-highest score in the Team event when racking up 75.026 per cent with Wolke Sieben. Combined with 74.105 from Charlott-Maria Schurmann (Burlington) and 72.842 from Florine Klenbaum (Don Windsor) as Louisa Luttgen’s (Habitus) 70.868 with the discard score, this was good enough for a clear German victory.

But it was no fluke when Denmark’s Cathrine Dufour produced the leading score of the Team competition with 76.290 from the exciting eight-year-old Atterupgaards Cassidy. After joining team-mates Nanna Skodborg Merrald (Millibar), Andreas Kragekjaer (Rozo Soneca) and Rikke Lindberg (Rigoletto) to take the silver ahead of The Netherlands in bronze, Dufour settled into a comfort zone that resulted in a sensational winning score of 84.925 in Sunday’s Freestyle.

The 20-year-old, who is in her second year at Young Rider level, took Team and Individual Silver as well as Freestyle bronze at the 2011 European Championships and, as her trainer, Rune Willum, points out she, and her young horse “make an incredible pair – they fit so well together.” On Saturay  the Danish duo scored 78.816 to pip Charlott-Maria Schurmann and Burglinton for Young Rider Individual gold while Sanneke Rothenberger and Wolke Sieben claimed the bronze.

But Sunday, the performance of Atterupgaards Cassidy was even more overwhelming as judges were in complete agreement about their Freestyle champion.

Germany took silver and bronze, Schurmann (Burlington) enjoying a single-point advantage over Florine Klenbaum (Don Windsor), while Rothenberger finished just outside the medals in fourth.

“I was a bit cautious at the beginning of my test but then it got better and better and I was very happy in the end, we made no mistakes,” Dufour said. “I was so happy I nearly fell off with the excitement–this is a dream come true!”

Young Rider Team Championship:  GOLD – Germany 221.973 – Don Windsor (Florine Klenbaum) 72.842, Habitus (Louisa Luttgen) 70.868, Burlington (Charlott-Maria Schurmann) 74.105, Wolke Sieben (Sanneke Rothenberger) 75.026; SILVER – Denmark 218.185 – Rozo Soneca (Andreas Kragekjaer) 68.763, Rigoletto (Rikke Lindberg) 60.368, Millibar (Nanna Skodborg Merrald) 73.132, Atterupgaards Cassidy (Cathrine Dufour) 76.290; BRONZE – Netherlands 213.000 – Urchin B (Michelle van Lanen) 69.895, Rambo (Danielle Houtvast) 70.500, Winston (Stephanie Kooijman) 72.368, Flash (Angela Krooswijk) 70.132.

Junior Team Championship: GOLD – Netherlands 221.459 – Hexagon’s Baldacci (Jeanine Nieuwenhuis) 67.703, Ziggy (Antoinette ter Riele) 72.081, Donna Cracia (Suzanne van de Ven) 71.973, DJ Tiesto (Dana van Lierop) 77.405; SILVER – Germany 218.676 – Flemenco Girl (Maxi-Kira von Platen) 70.216, Bellheim (Vivan Scheve) 72.541, Dauerbrenner (Bianca Nowag) 71.919, Wirsol’s Cipollini (Vivien Niemann) 74.216; BRONZE – Denmark 206.946 – Donna Charlan (Caroline Smidt) 68.622, Lambada (Cecilie Lyndrup) 66.622, Langkjaergaard’s Donna Fetti (Mille Larsen Warncke) 69.243, Capriciella (Anna Zibrandtsen) 69.081.

Young Rider Individual Championship:  GOLD – Atterupgaards Cassidy (Cathrine Dufour) DEN 78.816; SILVER – Burlington (Charlott-Maria Schurmann) GER 77.026; BRONZE – Wolke Sieben (Sanneke Rothenberger) GER 76.868.

Junior Individual Championship: GOLD – DJ Tiesto (Dana van Lierop) NED 77.184; SILVER – Wirsol’s Cipollini (Vivien Niemann) GER 74.711; BRONZE – Bellheim (Vivian Scheve) GER 74.184.

Young Rider Freestyle: GOLD – Atterupgaards Cassidy (Cathrine Dufour) DEN 84.925; SILVER – Burlington (Charlott-Maria Schurmann) GER 79.600; BRONZE – Don Windsor (Florine Klenbaum) GER 78.600..

Junior Freestyle:  GOLD – DJ Tiesto (Dana van Lierop) NED 81.150; SILVER – Bellheim (Vivian Scheve) GER 78.350; BRONZE – Wirsol’s Cipollini (Vivien Niemann) GER 78.250.