Best of British in Germany at Horses & Dreams

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Carl Hester and Uthopia.
Carl Hester and Uthopia. © Leslie Bliss

The Horses & Dreams meets Great Britain CDI4* later this month in Germany will be a vital test of strength for the best riders in the run up to the Olympics.

Running from April  25 to 29 in Hagen, the event is the first international riders’ tournament of the outdoor season.

Among the frontrunners for titles are World Championship runner-up Laura Bechtolsheimer, and her British team colleagues Carl Hester, Charlotte Dujardin, and Emile Faurie.

Since winning the European Championship title in 2011, the British team has been a favourite for the Olympics in London. Bechtolsheimer is a fan of the tournament, at the foot of the Borgberg mountain.

“I rode in my first ever international tournament in Hagen a.T.W. in 1998 – with my pony. Since then, I have competed there as a junior, as a young rider, and many times as an adult,” Bechtolsheimer said.

“It is a fantastic tournament with super conditions and the atmosphere is always great, thanks to Ulli and Bianca Kasselmann’s typically wonderful hospitality. I am already looking forward to Horses & Dreams.”

Another strong change at Hagen is 25-year-old German Olympic hopeful Kristina Sprehe, with her black stallion Desperados. It was only a short while ago in Dortmund that she left world-class competition such as Laura Bechtolsheimer and Isabell Werth behind her, with an impressive 81.978%.

Matthias Rath has also announced his intention to come to Hagen with Totilas, meaning three black stallions – Desperados, Carl Hester’s Uthopia and Totilas – will be on show.

Isabell Werth will also be in Hagen for the German team, as will Helen Langehanenberg with Damon Hill. Former German Championship horse Donnperignon will be there with his new young Danish rider, Anna Kasprzak.

• Following the successful première in 2011, Horses & Dreams meets Great Britain will once again be the opening station of the international DKB Riders Tour. This showjumping series, won last year for the fifth time by team European Champion Ludger Beerbaum (Riesenbeck), who now holds the record, is now on its 12th run and will this year again start at Hof Kasselmann.

It won’t just be the “Germans” battling it out for victory – although almost the entire German Championship squad will be competing – the international show-jumping elite will also be using Hagen a.T.W. as a chance to prepare for the Olympics.

Denis Lynch (Ireland), for example, has already enjoyed consistently good results this year. The start of the outdoor season will also be a good assessment of his performance, just as it will be for Spaniard Sergio Alvarez Moya. Even the French national show-jumping team coach, Henk Nooren, who has already trained the teams from Spain and Sweden, has identified Horses & Dreams as a signpost for London.

Patrice Delaveau and Penelope Leprevost are two of the French riders amongst the top 20 in the world rankings, who want to recommend themselves for London in Hagen.

The perfect sporting and other general conditions at Hof Kasselmann inspire both the national and international riders: Team World Champion Marcus Ehning (Borken) says: “It’s a fantastic place that Ulli Kasselmann has – I’m always happy to ride there”.

The event won’t just be very sporty, it will also be very British. Great Britain in the Osnabrück region will feature the most popular Beatles cover band around at the moment – The Silver Beatles.

The English Village will be providing a truly “strapping” taste of British sport: The Highland Games, which originates from the time of the Celtic kings in Scotland . The most famous events are Tossing the Caber, Putting the Stone and Scottish Hammer Throwing.

There will be a rally of original British vintage cars and both the biggest and smallest British horse breeds – Shire Horse vs. Shetland Pony.

Anyone feeling rather peckish after some serious spectating will be able to fortify themselves in the English double-decker bus – a British restaurant. And speaking of food: Fudge, Cream Cheese, and the British national dish Fish & Chips will all be on offer; not to mention whisky, the summer classic “Pimm’s Cup No. 1” and nice cold Guinness.

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