Britain won the second leg of the FEI Nations Cup Dressage 2013 series at Rotterdam in The Netherlands yesterday. Charlotte Dujardin produced the biggest score of the competition with a strong performance from her London 2012 Olympic Games double-gold medal winning partner, Valegro.
Just over 1.5 percentage points gave the British the edge over the host nation in the final analysis, while, despite fielding only three riders, Sweden lined up third.
But it is the Dutch who hold the advantage at the top of the league table as the four-leg pilot season moves on to Aachen, Germany next week. The British failed to start at the opening round in Vidauban, France last month when, having arrived with only three riders, one horse didn’t pass the first horse inspection.
This time around they brought the full complement of four horse-and-rider combinations, and although two of the side, Daniel Watson (Fideramber) and Gareth Hughes (DV Stenkjers Nadonna) were considerably less experienced, the combined scores of the best three team-members secured success. Dujardin finished at the top of the individual rankings with 82.191, Carl Hester was fourth with Fine Time on a mark of 71.532 and first-timer Hughes was most impressive when slotting into seventh with DV Stenkjers Nadonna when posting 70.149. British pathfinder, Watson, scored 67.830 with Fideramber.
Some of the highest individual marks of the day were collected by The Netherlands’ Edward Gal and Glock’s Undercover who filled runner-up spot on 79.660. This pair’s passage/piaffe work was often sensational, but they were penalised by a big mistake in the tempi changes. Dutch Chef d’Equipe, Wim Ernes, said afterwards that the partnership “is getting better and better, but there is still plenty more room for improvement. I’m very pleased with Edward’s progress,” he said.
A total of seven nations competed, with Denmark slotting into fourth ahead of Germany in fifth, France in sixth and Belgium in seventh place. The competition brought the FEI Nations Cup Dressage pilot season to the half-way stage.
Dujardin said afterwards that the concept of the FEI Nations Cup Dressage series is “fabulous! We had two new riders on our team, so to pull off the win with them, and to give them their first experience at this level, is a great opportunity for everyone”.
It seems Valegro’s success hasn’t gone to his head. After setting a new world record in the Grand Prix at London Olympia with a score of 84.447, the 11-year-old Dutch-bred gelding had “a bit of a holiday, he went out in the field a lot,” according to Dujardin. “When he came in he went hacking a lot with a friend of ours, Trish Gardner who is 76 years old – although actually she probably won’t be too happy with me for mentioning that!” the British rider said with a laugh.
The European Championships at Herning, Denmark in August are the next big target for the gentlemanly horse and his talented rider who will turn 28 next month. “We made a plan to get going here in Rotterdam, and after this I’m not quite sure yet what we’ll do. We may go to Hickstead, but it’s all up to Carl (Hester) to decide,” Dujardin said.
If the British want to win the inaugural FEI Nations Cup Dressage series, they still have plenty of work to do with an eight-point gap between them and the leading Dutch at this stage.
The FEI Nations Cup pilot series takes place over four events. CDIO 3* Vidauban, CDIO 5* Rotterdam and CDIO 5* Aachen all took the option to stage a Grand Prix competition as part of this trial FEI Nations Cup Dressage season, while CDIO 3* Hickstead has chosen to stage a Freestyle to Music competition to bring the test series to a close.
1. Great Britain 74.624: Fideramber (Daniel Watson) 67.830, Fine Time 13 (Carl Hester) 71.532, DV Stenkers Nadonna (Gareth Hughes) 70.149, Valegro (Charlotte Dujardin) 82.191.
2. Netherlands 73.035: Blom’s Wynton (Madeleine Witte-Vrees) 68.404, Glock’s Tango (Hans Peter Minderhoud) 69.681, Uzzo (Patrick van der Meer) 69.766, Glock’s Undercover (Edward Gal) 79.660.
3. Sweden 69.291: Weihenstephaner (Mads Handeliowitz) 63.447, Lennox (Cecilia Andren Dorselius) 68.660, Don Auriello (Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven) 75.766.
4. Denmark 68.638: My Lady (Mikala Munter Gundersen) 67.426, Loxana (Maria Anita Andersen) 68.170, Jonstrupgardens Raneur (Lisbeth Seierskilde) 68.362, Mariett (Lars Petersen) 69.234.
5. Germany 68.113: Nymphenburgs (Johanna Von Fircks) 68.043, Der Hit (Benjamin Werndl) 67.383, Darjeeling 5 (Stephan Koberle) 68.915.
6. France 67.986: Talitie (Pierre Subileau) 65.277, Florentino (Karen Tebar) 67.128, Noble Dream Concept (Marc Boblet) 67.213, Riwera de Hus (Jessica Michel) 68.574.
7. Belgium 66.730: Wipsy V Heihof (Delphine Meiresonne) 66.128, Pari Lani (Wim Verwimp) 66.277, Wodan (Francoise Joux-Hologne) 66.149, Vradin (Simon Misslaen) 67.766.