Italian rider sweeps to reining gold at European Champs

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Giovanni Masi de Vargas won individual reining gold at the FEI European Championships in Aachen on Dance Little Spook.
Giovanni Masi de Vargas won individual reining gold at the FEI European Championships in Aachen on Dance Little Spook. © Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans

Italy’s Giovanni Masi de Vargas has won individual reining gold on Dance Little Spook at the FEI European Championships in Aachen.

The field of 20 of Europe’s finest horses and riders performed in the Deutsche Bank Stadium, and 22-year-old Masi de Vargas was last to enter the arena. He flawlessly guided the talented seven-year-old mare, by Smart Spook out of Sailors Dance, through pattern nine. His deep stops, fast spins, smooth lead changes and perfectly painted circles pleased both the crowd and the judges who rewarded him with an outstanding score of 222 and the top step of the podium.

“Earning two gold medals here is unbelievable and so emotional,” said Masi de Vargas, who also posted the highest score in the team competition on Friday when Italy took home the gold. “I cannot thank my team enough, our coach and the president of the Italian Equestrian Sports Federation (FISE), Cav. Vittorio Orlandi, for being here to cheer for us.”

The pressure was on for Masi de Vargas once it was his turn to enter the arena. German veteran Grischa Ludwig and the eight-year-old stallion Shine My Gun (Colonels Smoking Gun x Shiners Mistress), owned by Stephanie Maudas, had thrilled the crowd with their run and their perfect spins. Once they had performed their last stop, a 221 appeared on the scoreboard, meaning the duo just missed out and had to settle for individual silver on home soil.

Individual silver medalist Grischa Ludwig and Shine My Gun.
Individual silver medalist Grischa Ludwig and Shine My Gun. © Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans

“I came here aiming for the gold,” Ludwig said. “I did not have much luck in my last stop but it was a great fight until the very end and I am proud of our results.”

Germany also kept the bronze medal at home as Elias Ernst and USS N Dun It (Reminic Dun It x USS Entrprise) closed their run with a 219. The talented 10-year-old stallion is owned by Christine Wilinski. “I can’t describe my feelings! To show here is awesome and the crowd was super,” the young German rider said.

Austria’s Daniel Schmutz and BH Cielo Dry opened the competition with a score of 214.5. Closing the first judging block, and raising the score by a point, was the duo that made it through from the second qualifier, Verena Klein of Germany and Olena Joe Cody.

Italy’s team veteran Pierluigi Fabbri was in the lead following the second of four judging blocks after posting a 217.5 aboard Broadway Jaba (Little Red Jaba x Tuff Lady Boss), owned by Az. Agricola Pollarini.

With a strong performance, Klaus Lechner of Austria and Cody Rooster Delmaso (Ricochet Rooster x Made Of Lacy), owned by Giulia Gaupmann, received a 218.5 from the judges, the highest score before the last five competitors which also earned them fourth place overall.

The individual medal podium at the FEI European Reining Championships (from left), silver medalist Grischa Ludwig (GER), gold medalist Giovanni Masi de Vargas (ITA), and bronze medalist Elias Ernst (GER).
The individual medal podium at the FEI European Reining Championships (from left), silver medalist Grischa Ludwig (GER), gold medalist Giovanni Masi de Vargas (ITA), and bronze medalist Elias Ernst (GER). © FEI/Dirk Caremans

Reporting: Simona Diale

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