GERMANY’S Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera BB reclaimed the Freestyle title they won 24 months ago on the thrilling closing day of the FEI Dressage European Championship 2023 in Riesenbeck, Germany, last Sunday.

In the months leading up to the event, speculation was rife about the clash of the sport’s giants and the emergence of many new stars, but the expected fireworks didn’t materialise earlier in the week.

On Sunday, however, the reigning individual World championship duo of Britain’s Lottie Fry and the fabulous stallion Glamourdale pushed the reigning Olympic and defending European champions von Bredow-Werndl and her magical mare all the way to the line to take silver, while fellow-Briton and triple Olympic gold medallist Charlotte Dujardin stepped up to bag the bronze with Imhotep.

Fourth last into the arena, von Bredow-Werndl set off for a test that was filled with seamless transitions and showered with maximum marks of 10, but it wasn’t without an uncharacteristic mistake in the one-tempi changes. The pair still stayed in tune with each other to the very end, when the scoreboard showed a colossal 92.818 for the new lead. It didn’t seem likely any of the rest could come anyway close to that. But Fry and Glamourdale did.

The stallion was on fire today, much more like the super-steed who wowed the spectators at the World Championships last summer. Heavenly half-passes and lovely piaffe/passage saw the scores piling up despite a mistake when picking up the canter lead for the first time. The crowd held their breath while the score was being calculated, just short of the target, but a phenomenal personal best of 92.379.

Dujardin, last into the ring, did what she does best. It didn’t seem possible that a 10-year-old horse with no real experience could withstand the pressure, the noise, the tension in the arena that was now like a cauldron of excitement. But he did, overtaking Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald for bronze medal spot when earning 91.396 for a wonderful test.

Biggest buzz

Dujardin did not expect to be at the Europeans this year after giving birth to her daughter, Isabella, just six months ago. “I had a baby six months ago and I didn’t think I’d be here this year. I kind of ruled out the Europeans and was aiming at Paris next year and here I am at the end of the week with one gold medal and two bronze medals. I can’t ask for more. It’s been a great week for me and for dressage,” she said.

Dujardin is loving her new role as a mother, commenting: “It has definitely changed me, 100%. I’m 38 now and it took me quite a while to actually be ready to have a baby but for me I really feel like my mentality has changed. I’ve realised that as wonderful as this sport is, and amazing as it is, it really doesn’t matter!

“Having a baby is real life, and that’s the most important thing. And Isabella, waking up to her every day, that is what’s important. There’s always another show, another championship and something else to focus on.”


Asked how she is feeling this evening after a super-close race to the finish line today, silver medallist Lottie Fry replied: “I guess I feel a little relief that we are back on the podium, but mainly just excitement and super happy. The feeling that he gave me in there today was that we are really back on track. The first two tests (this week) maybe weren’t what I had hoped they would be, but today it was the most incredible feeling and I’m a bit speechless to be honest!”


Meanwhile von Bredow-Werndl reflected on her magnificent defence of both individual titles this week. “It was my goal to come here and defend as many titles as possible,” she said. “I gave my very best for the team (Germany finished in team silver medal spot) but at the end the ladies next to me, and the men next to them, were better, so we have more work to do before Paris to make it more difficult for them!”

Asked about coming up against Fry and her stallion for the first time this week she said: “I was prepared to meet her in Omaha, or in Aachen, and I was just finally happy to meet her here! I’m focusing on myself and Dalera and I’m happy we had great sport and other riders coming up, but this pushes me to train better, more precisely and to keep on improving.”

What they said:

“I’m the one that lives on the property, so I hear them doing the Grand National at night, nobody else has to worry about them galloping around. And I spend my life hanging out the window wondering if they are going to be in one piece in the morning!” - Carl Hester talking about his and Charlotte Dujardin’s horses living outside.

“I am thinking about giving up and becoming a broodmare! I quite like this having a baby lark! I can’t wait to do it again, it has definitely mellowed me!” - Charlotte Dujardin speaking about life after having her first baby.