FEI European Championships Rotterdam 2019 officially opened: Teams hungry for success

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The team presentation on Monday evening marked the official start of the FEI European Championships Rotterdam 2019. The competitors in the dressage, showjumping and paradressage championships are excited to ride in The Netherlands and are ready to fight for victory.

The teams were brought to the podium by boat across the waters of the Kralingse Plas for their introduction to the crowd on the EK Boulevard. The upcoming days, the competitors will not only be fighting for the medals at these championships. For many countries, qualification for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year are also at stake. Good results from the past are no guarantee for future success, Belgian showjumper Pieter Devos knows: ,,Yes, these past few months we had some good results, but every time we start at zero. We’re hoping for succes and also on a bit of luck.'

With a particularly strong team in all disciplines, Germany is the lead favourite to take home the medals. As the defending European Champion and current World Champion, dressage rider Isabell Werth is bound to leave her mark in Rotterdam. ,,These championships are a highlight in the season. All year I train my horses for moments like these’’, Werth says. ,,I am in the comfortable and fortunate position to have three amazing horses. Bella Rose is in top form, but the competition is strong. I have three team members who would also like to win, so we’ll see what happens.’'

The British dressage riders are hoping to repeat their success of 2011, when they won the team gold at the European Championships also held in Rotterdam that year. Carl Hester has high praise for fellow team member Charlotte Fry, who made her championship debut on Monday. ,,She’s a great rider with a great horse. My first time competing at this type of event I didn’t win a rozet I think, so for her to get a score like that is amazing’’, he says. ,,Me and Charlotte (Dujardin) have great memories here, but of course she has a different, younger horse now. We will both have to do our best tomorrow and keep our fingers crossed.''

The Dutch team will do their very best to keep the medals in The Netherlands. ,,We can be proud to compete at a stage like this in our home country’’, says showjumper Maikel van der Vleuten. ,,We are going to fight for the best possible result’’, Marc Houtzager adds.

The Dutch dressage equipe started their campaign on Monday with Hans Peter Minderhoud and Anne Meulendijks’ tests and finished the day in a preliminary fourth place. Edward Gal hopes that he and Emmelie Scholtens can also produce some nice scores on Tuesday. ,,The team feels good here. The arena is nice to ride in and the weather’s nice too, so what more could you ask for? It makes a huge difference for us to be riding in front of a home crowd. It’s always nice to compete in Rotterdam.’'

The Dutch parariders hope to repeat the success they had at last year’s World Equestrian Games in Tryon, USA, when they broke the long reign of the British team with a historic victory. Rider Nicole den Dulk: ,,We have a great team, the same as last year at the WEG. Last year we managed to become World Champions and we hope we can once again take home the gold.''

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