It was a day of mixed fortunes for some debutantes in the ECCO FEI European Dressage Championships in Herning, Denmark. The best debutant with a splendid and harmonious ride was German Fabienne Lütkemeier showing d'Agostino. In a wonderful style the elegant pair proved nerves, fitness, harmony and abilities, deserving more than 73% for the second place of the first half.
Fabienne Lütkemeier showing d'Agostino Pictures Julia Rau www.rauphoto.de
Dutch debutant Danielle Heijkoop had deserved her teamplace after her appearance in Aachen. She could not repeat that performance, unfortunately having a mistake in the one tempi changes and missing that little extra in piaffe and passage that Kingsley Siro normally shows. However her score of more than 70% is good enough for a debut.
Danielle Heijkoop and Siro
Bad luck occurred for British debutant Gareth Hughes with Jane Brewin's DV Stenjkers Nadonna for their first appearance in British team colours. The chestnut mare by Donnerschlag can be fiery and the atmosphere and sense of occasion got to her. Gareth used all his experience to ride as sympathetically as possible but the disappointment was clear even before his final mark of 60.866% was announced. Gareth commented; "That was the worst test she's done for three years. We've had a great year, she's just gone better and better and we've had two amazing Nations Cup performances so hopes were high but the tension just got to her. She's a beautiful mare and she did try her hardest but it all got the better of her today."
The score then put added pressure on the second rider to keep Britain amongst the leaders.With Jon and Julie Deverill's Half Moon Delphi, Michael Eilberg was certainly thrown in at the deep end today A score of 72.264% put the combination in the mix and in turn Britain's team hopes back on track. A delighted Michael said; "I arrived hoping to match my personal best of 73% (at Hartpury CDI3* in July this year) which I suppose is a big ask at your first Championship so I'm happy with my score. I went in not knowing how hard to push after Gareth's test with the risk that my mare could boil over too. I had to think of the team as it was a big atmosphere in there so rode conservatively to start and as our confidence grew, she began to enjoy it – we both did. Afterwards, dad didn't talk to me in German so I knew instantly it wasn't too bad! I'm chuffed to bits with how she coped and we put down a good marker for the team; I really love that mare and I can be braver with her next time. Now Carl and Charlotte have got to fly!"
Isabell Werth and Don Johnson FRH
The duo end day one in fourth place individually with Germany in the ascendancy as veteran maestro Isabell Werth leads on 75.213% with Don Johnson FRH and Fabienne Lutkemeir and D'Agostino 5 second on 73.237%. Andreas Helgstrand flew the home flag for Denmark with 72.72% aboard Akeem Foldager for third spot.
Andreas Helgstrand and Akeem Foldager
Hans Peter Minderhoud and Glock's Romanov
After two riders, the leaders in the team competition are Germany with hosts Denmark in second and The Netherlands in third.
But chances will be changed again as the best pairs still have to come tomorrow. British Carl Hester goes early at 08.18 local time with Uthopia which will prove pivotal for Britain's medal chances, immediately followed by Dutch Edward Gal on Glock's Undercover.
All eyes will then be on double Olympic gold medallists Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester and Roly Luard's Valegro at 10.34
To be continued!