Britain’s Pony Dressage team had what could only be described as a ‘character building’ time at their European Championships last week in Poland. They had a real roller coaster experience but a hard trip ended on a high with some great performances.
The team competition had a delayed start when the main arena wasn’t quite finished in time so all the tests had to be completed in one very long day on Thursday (28 July). First to go for the British team was Gaby Lucas, sadly in her final year of ponies, with the striking palomino Top Star. They were solid for a good foundation score of 64.278%.
Next was our youngest rider, Amiee Witkin (right) riding Ferrari and she showed no signs of nerves to earn 66.917% - even scoring over 70% from one judge. Third to go, often the most vital ride, was first-timer Maisie Scruton and Jane Gill’s impressive black stallion, Rembrandt DDH. Although they’ve only been together since March, this combination has been impressive and certainly gave the judges a great performance. Her score of 72.25% gave the team a huge boost and left her in sixth overall. Anchor-woman was team ‘veteran’ (as she’s the only rider who has been on a team previously) Erin Williams (above) with mum Clare’s Danny Boy B. A cool performance under pressure to score 69.722% again boosted the team chances and it looked like a medal was in reach.
The scores came in, the calculators came out and the results were announced – it was a joint team bronze with the Danish! The medal ceremony took place – albeit with a crowded podium – and a jubilant team plus followers and officials retired for the evening. Friday morning dawned and they were given the distressing news that there had been a scoring/counting error and in fact, the team finished fourth – just 0.111% behind the Danish team. Completely gutting for the four young ladies.
However, with true British resilience, the foursome put the bad feeling behind them and focused on their individual performances with the aim of achieving personal bests. And do that they did.
With her team score, Gaby (right) was in the consolation competition with Top Star. A strong test left them with an overall mark of 67.158%. This gave them a placing of fourth – a great result. What’s even more exciting for the future is that two judges had her in first place – one with 71.316%!
The three other riders progressed to the first round of the individual championships. Debutante Aimee Witkin finished 21st on 66.763% with Ferrari – an excellent achievement for the young pairing at their first European Championship with bodes well for the future. Our highest paced combination in the team round, Maisie Scruton and Rembrandt DDH went on to score a second plus 70% - 71.842% to be exact which gave her ninth spot and a coveted place in the Freestyle. Erin Williams and her loyal partner Danny Boy B improved on their team test score by over 2.5% with 72.447% for seventh place – that’s two riders in the top 10 and through to the Freestyle!
Sunday’s Freestyle saw a battle at the top with Dutch rider Dana Van Lierop finally coming out on top of the German contingent when she won gold with 80.75% - the only rider to break the 80% barrier over the Championships. Maisie (below) posted 73.525% in her Freestyle giving her ninth overall and a personal best; a great effort at their first ever European Championships. Erin ended the Championship in eighth – a five place improvement on her 2010 results – and she’s just 13 so we’ll be hearing more from her on the international stage.
6th Maisie Scruton and Rembrandt DDH, 72.250%
12th Erin Williams and Danny Boy B, 69.722%
=21st Aimee Witkin and Ferrari, 66.917%
34th Gabrielle Lucas and Top Star, 64.278%
1st Germany - 230.333
2nd Holland – 219.667
3rd Denmark – 209.000
4th Great Britain – 208.889
4th Gabrielle Lucas and Top Star, 67.158%
7th Erin Williams and Danny Boy B, 72.447%
9th Maisie Scruton and Rembrandt DDH, 71.842%
21st Aimee Witkin and Ferrari, 66.763%
8th Erin Williams and Danny Boy B, 74.25%
9th Maisie Scruton and Rembrandt DDH, 73.525%