ANNE Marie Dunphy heads to her first senior championship as high performance director and has a strong firing squad, demonstrating the depth of talent continuing to come through the dressage ranks in Ireland.

Kicking off next Tuesday, September 5th, 153 riders and their horses and trainers head to Riesenbeck in Germany for the FEI European Dressage and Para Dressage Championships. The venue, owned by Ludger Beerbaum, hosting the jumping equivalent in 2021 with great success. The venue has also hosted five World Driving Championships since the 1980s.

Olympians Anna Merveldt and Judy Reynolds are joined by Abigail Lyle and Sorrell Klatzko who both made their championship debuts at last summer’s FEI World Championships in Herning.

Looking at the rest of the nations, Britain’s reigning world champion Lottie Fry makes her championship comeback with her double gold world medallist Glamourdale and it will be the match-up the world has been waiting for when she finally takes on German Olympic and European champion Jessica van Bredow-Werndl with TSF Dalera BB.

For the team competition, Britain and Germany are sure to be in the reckoning once again, while the Danish team who won team gold at Herning last year will be hoping for more glory. They are without their star, Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour, who is light on horse power this season.

Fry is joined on the British team by Carl Hester, Charlotte Dujardin and Gareth Hughes, with Hester predicting in his Horse & Hound column that it could be the most exciting team since the days of Valegro, who won two individual Olympic medals under Dujardin.

Ireland are not yet qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. There are three qualifying slots up from grabs here – the three highest ranked teams not yet qualified. So far, nine countries have booked their place; they are France (host), Denmark, Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, USA, Australia and Poland.

Meet the Irish team

Rider: Sorrell Klatzko (43)

Horse: Turbo

Owner: Sorrell Klatzko and Janine Shoffner

Form: This powerful 10-year-old gelding made his championship debut at Herning last year under Klatzko where it sadly ended after an “unlevel” step in the Grand Prix.

They have bounced back since and have shown some lovely work both nationally and internationally, including a personal best freestyle score (74.465%) on their last start at CDI3* level in Hartpury. Their Grand Prix best this year is 68.087% at Hagen.

Rider: Abigail Lyle (38)

Horse: Farrell

Owner: Fenella Quinn

Form: A second senior championship for British-based Abigail who is debuting this 12-year-old gelding at the level after an excellent season which saw them recently finish fifth in a strong CDI3* Grand Prix Special at Hartpury (69.213%).

The pair are now scoring in the 73% mark for their freestyle, and set a Grand Prix personal best of 70.326% when finishing fourth in a huge class of 29 competitors at Tolbert, Netherlands, earlier this year. Trained by British legend Carl Hester.

Rider: Anna Merveldt (60)

Horse: Esporim

Owner: Mario Greco and Giovanna Mazza

Form: The most experienced rider on the team, two-time Olympian Anna Merveldt made her championship debut at the 1990 World Championships and has been a mainstay for Ireland. With the beautiful 14-year-old Lusitano stallion, this will be her ninth European Championship appearance. In fantastic form internationally this season, the pair won the CSI3* Freestyle at Ornago, Italy, back in May on a score of 73.440%, which they recently bettered (73.875) at the CDI5* in Crozet. Their best Grand Prix score this year in 69.369 but they can go higher.

Rider: Judy Reynolds (42)

Horse: Rockman Royal NG

Owner: BG J. Hinnemann and Next Generation Dressurpferde

Form: Experienced Co Kildare Olympian Judy is returning to an Irish team for the first time since the 2019 FEI European Championships where she finished fifth with the now retired Vancouver K.

She took over the ride of this 13-year-old gelding in April and brought him back to international level and they have been building the scores steadily, the best of which came on their last appearance in Neustadt Dosse, Germany, when finishing second in the Grand Prix with a personal best (70.217%) and fourth in the GP Special (68.681%).