Dramatic European Championships Special Won by Charlotte Dujardin & Valegro, Edward Gal & Undercover Eliminated

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Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro holding aloft the gold medal won in the European Championship Grand Prix Special. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro holding aloft the gold medal won in the European Championship Grand Prix Special. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J, BRADDICK

AACHEN, Germany, Aug. 15, 2015–In perhaps the most dramatic European Championships, Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro showed again why the British pair are world No. 1 by capturing the Grand Prix Special gold medal with a near-flawless ride Saturday while Edward Gal and Glock’s Undercover were eliminated with blood in the mouth of the horse a day after Totilas was withdrawn.

The ride by Charlotte and the 13-year-old KWPN gelding brought gasps of astonishment from the 28,000 spectators in an otherwise hushed stadium as the scores for each movement popped up on scoreboards and came to a total of 87.577 per cent, just 0.445 per cent shy of the pair’s world record for the Special set in Germany more than three years ago.

The 30-year-old Charlotte said the score of 83.067 per cent for Germany’s Kristina Bröring-Sprehe on Desperados FRH that was flashing on the scoreboard when she rode into the stadium “drove me more… it doesn’t make me afraid it makes me fight harder.”

The result for Kristina and her 14-year-old black Hanoverian stallion was also just shy of the personal best of 83.824 per cent posted a month ago. Kristina and Desperados have been on an almost parallel championship track as Charlotte and Valegro in recent years–team medalists at the Olympics in London in 2012 and the Europeans in 2013, team and individual medals at the 2014 World Games and the highest scoring combination for Germany in the Nations Cup here as well as Saturday’s silver medal.

The bronze medal of Hans Peter Minderhoud on Glock’s Johnson TN on a personal best score of 79.034 per cent for the bronze medal was, he admitted, bitter-sweet as his team mate and life partner Edward Gal was eliminated when the judge at C, Andrew Gardner of Great Britain, saw blood in the foam on the mouth of Undercover and rang the bell to eliminate the pair.

Throughout the ride, his legs “felt like spaghetti” as he had “been throwing up all night” with food poisoning. “I was happy with the medal but it would have been nicer if it wasn’t for s–t that happened” to Edward and Undercover.

The expression on Edward Gal's face says it all after the Dutch rider and Glock's Undercover were eliminated from the European Championship Grand Prix Special because of blood in the mouth of the horse. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
The expression on Edward Gal’s face says it all after the Dutch rider and Glock’s Undercover were eliminated from the European Championship Grand Prix Special because of blood in the mouth of the horse. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Undercover was extremely tense when Edward, who also suffered from a stomach upset, rode the 14-year-old KWPN gelding into the stadium, a result of a scary awards ceremony Thursday night when the pair led Netherlands to the Nations Cup gold medal.

Edward Gal on an extremely tense Glock's Undercover at the beginning of their European Championship Grand Prix Special from which they were eliminated for blood on the horse's mouth. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Edward Gal on an extremely tense Glock’s Undercover at the beginning of their European Championship Grand Prix Special from which they were eliminated for blood on the horse’s mouth. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The seven-judge championship panel awarded Charlotte and Valegro 28 marks of 10, with a mistake in the one-tempi changes possibly costing the double Olympic gold medal pair an improvement on their already existing world record for the Special. Thy also hold the world records for the Grand Prix and the Freestyle.

Charlotte Dujardin riding Valegro on the final centerline of the Grand Prix Special at the European Championships. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Charlotte Dujardin riding Valegro on the final centerline of the Grand Prix Special at the European Championships. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Charlotte said of her ride, “On Thursday I think I was maybe a little too laid back and just rode for a clear round.  But today, because of my mistakes, I thought ‘Right, I’m sick of this!’ and I wanted to go in and better my performance as I know Valegro can do much better than that. Last year coming here wasn’t that great; it’s not a place I get the nicest vibes from should I say. Today he felt on great form and I knew I just had to go in and ride him.  I had a good ride from start to finish.”

She and Valegro had more than just the test to conquer.

“It’s tough with a German crowd,” she said, “they really get behind their riders–a bit like we had in London. Coming here and doing it is amazing; the crowd are fantastic and know what they’re watching.  It’s such a great feeling to come out and know that they appreciate what they’re seeing and applauding what I’ve done. It’s tough; but I have to remember that this is my passion and what I love and that’s how I keep the nerves from kicking in. I know I have to go in there nail it and do my best but today, I really did enjoy it.”

Thumbs up from Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro after their European Championship Grand Prix Special that won the British pair the gold medal. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Thumbs up from Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro after their European Championship Grand Prix Special that won the British pair the gold medal. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Aside from the drama of the horses that also included Sweden’s Patrik Kittel on Deja retiring when the horse balked several times early in the test, the judging at these championships has been a source of widespread attacks and Saturday was no exception.

Eduard de Wolff van Westerrode of the Netherlands who had been the judge at C during the Nations Cup when widely disparate scoring drew sharp criticism, had his mark of 83.824 per cent for the Dutch combination of Diederik van Silfhout on Arlando “corrected” by the Judges Supervisory Panel to 77.255 per cent. That made it more in line with the other six scores–it was more than 13 percentage points higher than the lowest mark–and the total became 77.255 per cent.

The scoreboard for Diederk van Silfhout on Arlando before the mark of 80 per cent by one judge was "corrected" by the JudgesSupervisory Panel. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
The scoreboard for Diederk van Silfhout on Arlando before the mark of 80 per cent by one judge was “corrected” by the Judges Supervisory Panel. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

There was considerable comment about the fact that he will be a member of the the ground jury at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Kristina Bröring-Sprehe, who will celebrate her marriage to her longtime boyfriend after the championships, talked of the “fantastic atmosphere” in the stadium that saw her earn her highest individual championship medal, the silver.

Kristina Bröring-Sprehe and  Desperados FRH in the European Championship Grand Prix Special. © 2015 Ken Braddck/dressage-news.com
Kristina Bröring-Sprehe and Desperados FRH in the European Championship Grand Prix Special. © 2015 Ken Braddck/dressage-news.com
Monica Theordorescu, the three-time Olympic gold medalist and German team coach, had tears of joy after Kristina’s ride.
“They looked so beautiful together, and I’m so very proud,” Monica said afterwards. “I train Kristina at home and she is such a nice and quiet person. I knew what a nice job they could do, and today they were so harmonious, it made me very happy.”German team coach Monica Theodorescu who is also the personal coach of Kristina Bröring-Sprehe celebrating with team chef d'equipe Klaus Roeser with major sponsor Martin Richenhagen, who lives in Atlanta, back to camera and Johnny Hiiberath who assists Monic. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

German team coach Monica Theodorescu who is also the personal coach of Kristina Bröring-Sprehe celebrating with team chef d’equipe Klaus Roeser with major sponsor Martin Richenhagen, who lives in Atlanta, back to camera and Johnny Hiiberath who assists Monic. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Hans Peter Minderhoud on Glock's Johnson on their way to a bronze medal in the European Championships Grand Prix Special. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Hans Peter Minderhoud on Glock’s Johnson on their way to a bronze medal in the European Championships Grand Prix Special. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Great Britain’s Fiona Bigwood on Atterupgaards Orthilia rode during the worst of teeming rain, made more difficult as she wears eyeglasses with a patch over the right eye that has not worked correctly since a horse accident in April 2014.

“The water was pouring off us, She was a bit nervous of the photographers in their plastic coats but I can’t fault that mare. She went in there in her first year of Grand Prix and gave me that.

“I felt I was riding a bit blind; it’s the first time I’ve struggled with the patch. I’ve had a great week; it’s such a good team. The freestyle will be training now; my focus was the Grand Prix for the team. She’s been brilliant so far.”

The ride by Fiona Bigwood on Atterupgaards Orthilia came during the worst of a teeming downpour.  2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
The ride by Fiona Bigwood on Atterupgaards Orthilia came during the worst of a teeming downpour. 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The Grand Prix Freestyle starts at 1:30 p.m. Central European Times local (7:30 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time) Sunday with 15 rides. Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro start last at 4:39 p.m. local (10:39 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time).

Results:

European Championships Grand Prix Special

Judges: K: Eduard de Wolff van Westerrode (NED E: Annette Fransén-Iacobaeus (SWE) H: Katrina Wuest (GER) C: Andrew Ralph Gardner (GBR) M: Susanne Baarup (DEN) B: Jean-Michel Roudier (FRA) F: Anne Gribbons USA)

RANK NR. RIDER

EUR %
HORSE 

1 27
Charlotte Dujardin
GBR
12000 87.577
Valegro 

2 30
Kristina Bröring-Sprehe
GER
8000 83.067
Desperados FRH 

3 44
Hans Peter Minderhoud
NED
6000 79.034
Glock´s Johnson TN 

4 14
Beatriz Ferrer – Salat
ESP
5000 77.395
Delgado 

5 29
Carl Hester
GBR
4000 77.003
Nip Tuck 

6 68
Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén
SWE
2500 76.148
Don Auriello 

7 33
Isabell Werth
GER
1500 75.924
Don Johnson FRH 

8 32
Jessica von Bredow-Werndl
GER
1000 74.790
Unee BB 

9 26
Fiona Bigwood
GBR
74.510
Atterupgaards Orthilia 

10 45
Diederik van Silfhout
NED
74.426
Arlando N.O.P. 

11 11
Anna Kasprzak
DEN
73.473
Donnperignon 

12 24
Karen Tebar
FRA
73.193
Don Luis 

13 46
Patrick van der Meer
NED
73.151
Uzzo 

14 13
Morgan Barbançon Mestre
ESP
71.429
Painted Black 

15 55
Gonçalo Carvalho
POR
71.148
Batuta

16 63
Marcela Krinke Susmelj
SUI
70.714
Smeyers Molberg 

17 8
Jorinde Verwimp
BEL
70.560
Tiamo 

18 25
Pierre Volla
FRA
70.238
Badinda Altena 

19 28
Michael George Eilberg
GBR
69.930
Marakov

20 21
Terhi Stegars
FIN
69.636
Axis TSF 

21 2
Victoria Max-Theurer
AUT
69.412
Blind Date 25 

22 66
Emilie Nyreröd
SWE
69.384
Miata 

23 5
Jeroen Devroe
BEL
69.160
Eres DL 

24 47
Trude Hestengen
NOR
68.992
Tobajo Pik Disney 

25 57
Marina Aframeeva
RUS
68.824
Vosk 

26 16
Jose Daniel Martin Dockx
ESP
68.179
Grandioso

27 10
Mikala Münter Gundersen
DEN
67.997
My Lady 

28 59
Inessa Merkulova
RUS
67.003
Mister X 

29 43
Edward Gal
NED
ELM
Glock´s Undercover N.O.P. 

30 65
Patrik Kittel
SWE
RET
Deja