Sweden Qualifies for Paris
The excitement for the team rankings has been high at the FEI Para Dressage European Championships in Riesenbeck the last two days. Not only were the evident glory of team medals at stake, but for one team, a good result meant a nation spot for the Paralympic Games in Paris next year.
As the top-placed team not already qualified for the Games would earn that spot, the stakes were high for countries such as Ireland, Austria and Sweden. The last Austrian rider, Bernd Brugger, was also the last rider of the day, so tension was drawn out to the very end. It was therefore a happy and relieved Swedish team that found themselves in possession of a nation’s qualification for Paris 2024.
Mette Ubbesen, Swedish team trainer, said, “I am so excited! I think the riders have been doing a great job. For the last ten months I have worked with them, they have just been getting better and better and they have worked so hard. Our plan for these championships was to qualify the team for Paris, but we didn’t quite believe in it. But we actually succeeded!”
The Netherlands takes Team Gold once again
The defending European Championship team from 2019 in Rotterdam reclaimed their title at the FEI Para Dressage European Championships in Riesenbeck. For a long time it looked like it could be German gold, but then the European championship debutant Demi Haerkens (Grade IV) and her super mare EHL Daula entered the arena. The pair absolutely smashed it in the Grand Prix B and were rewarded with an outstanding 79.730%. Not only did they have the highest score of the day, but more importantly they put the Netherlands in gold position. Before her, Frank Hosmar (Grade V) riding Alphaville N.O.P. and Lotte Krijnsen (Grade III) on Rosenstolz N.O.P. had laid a strong foundation for the gold. Finally, Sanne Voets (Grade IV) and Demantur RS2 N.O.P. sealed the deal and brought the team score up to an impressive 232.637%.
In the end, the German team consisting of Heidemarie Dresing (Grade II) on Horse24 Dooloop, Melanie Wienand (III) on Lemony’s Loverboy, Martina Benzinger (Grade I) on Nautika and Regine Mispelkamp (Grade V) on Highlander Delight’s took the silver medal with a total score of 226.979%.
In the bronze position, the super ladies from Great Britain – Georgia Wilson (Grade II) riding Sakura, Gabby Blake (Grade I) on Strong Beau, Charlotte Cundall (Grade V) on FJ Veyron and Sophie Wells (Grade V) on LJT Egebjerggards Samoa – finished with a total score of 222.663%.
National trainer for the Netherlands, Joyce Heuitink, said after the final result, “I am incredibly happy, and I am more than proud. I think from most of them it was a pure masterclass! It gave me goosebumps and tears during the test already, because it was so nice and effortless and beautiful and mistake-free. I have riders that perform under pressure and they have to show it every show, which is never a guarantee, but once again they have proven that they can perform under pressure which also makes me extremely proud that you can rely on such good riding.”
The action finishes up Saturday with the Freestyles.