Stars Line Up for European Championships, Norway Starts 2 Days of Nations Cup, Germany Last of 18
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
AACHEN, Germany, Aug. 11, 2015–The powerful German team favored to win Nations Cup gold will be the last of 18 teams to start in the European Championships Grand Prix Wednesday after a veterinary check in which all 72 horses passed.
All eyes were on Totilas, the 15-year-old black stallion jogged by rider Matthias Alexander Rath in the vet check at these show grounds that are hosting European Championships in five disciplines over the next 10 days.
The buzz was about the head-to-head clash with the world’s No. 1 combination of Valegro and Charlotte Dujardin–she displayed a glamorous image of British school style blue blazer and khaki slacks–after their last duel at this same venue a year ago when the German pair won both the Grand Prix and the Special.
In the background as a possible challenger for a spot near the very top is the German duo of Desperados FRH that Kristina Bröring-Sprehe won 2012 Olympic team silver and 2014 World Games team gold. She married her long time boyfriend in a civil ceremony before these Europeans but put off a celebration until after the competition.
Order of go for the teams is: 1. Norway; 2. Portugal; 3. Poland; 4. Luxemburg; 5. France; 6. Belgium; 7. Ukraine; 8. Italy; 9. Finland; 10. Austria; 11. Russia; 12. Denmark; 13. Switzerland; 14. Netherlands; 15. Great Britain; 16. Sweden; 17. Spain; 18. Germany.
The two days of Grand Prix Nations Cup, the Grand Prix Special and the Freestyle will be streamed live on FEI TV beginning at 9:30 am Central European Time (3:30 am U.S. Eastern Time) Wednesday
Most of the top horses will not compete in the Grand Prix until Thursday.
A group including Hans Peter Minderhoud on Glock’s Johnson, Carl Hester on Nip Tuck, Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfvén on Don Auriello, Morgan Barbançon on Painted Black and Matthias Alexander Rath on Totilas are scheduled for about 12:10 p.m. Central European Time (6:10 a.m. US Eastern Time) Thursday.
A second group that includes Inessa Merkulova on Mister X, Edward Gal on Glock’s Undercover, Charlotte and Valegro, Patrik Kittel on Deja and Kristina Bröring-Sprehe on Desperados begin at about 4:50 p.m. and runs to about 6 p.m. Thursday.
As well as bragging rights and the medals, three starting places at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are also at stake. Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain are already in as a result of their placings at the World Games in Normandy last year.
Sweden with Olympic and World Games veterans Tinne Vilhelmsson-Silfvén on Don Auriello and Patrik Kittel on the fancy Deja are given the best odds of qualifying for Rio.
Spain with Morgan Barbançon on Painted black and Jose Daniel Dockx on Grandioso, owned by Hampton Green Farm of Wellington, Florida are given a shot at getting a start in Rio as will Denmark whose team includes the Florida-based Mikala Gundersen on My Lady that she owns with Janne Rumbough of Palm Beach and Russia led by the Mister X ridden by Inessa Merkulova. The horse’s extravagant gaits and the showmanship of the rider made the pair one of the favorites at the World Cup Final in Las Vegas in April.
Austria’s top rider Victoria Max-Theurer switched her mount to Blind Date from Augustin OLD because her top horse will not go to Rio even if qualified because of an inability o handle different hay and other feed that kept him out of the World Games in Kentucky in 2010.