Gold medal for Dutch para-dressage team
At the European Para-Dressage Championship, the Dutch team won gold in the team competition. Demi Haerkens, riding Grade IV with EHL Daula N.O.P., set a world record score of 79.730 percent. The proud coach Joyce van Rooijen-Heuitink said: "We've never had such a high average as a country. This is very special." This is the fourth medal for the Dutch team at the European Championship and there's the chance of more in the Freestyle competition tomorrow.
"I always have a lot to say, but right now, I'm truly speechless," laughed the winning coach, Joyce van Rooijen-Heuitink. "I was emotionally watching the performances, and I was in tears at the end. The performances by Demi, Frank, and Sanne were so beautiful. It was how it should be—so light, so effortless, so beautiful and flawless. When something truly touches me, tears well up in my eyes. Today was one of those days. Demi achieved the highest score ever recorded in Grade IV. That's extraordinary. As a country, we've never had such a high average. We're averaging 77 percent with high grades, and that's not normal. Even before Frank and Sanne's performances, we knew we had secured gold in the team competition. Lotte's score in Grade III alone would have been enough for gold. That's super exciting and nice for her. She's already very valuable to our team."
Just enjoying the moment
The focus now goes to the Paralympic Games in Paris. "I'll have to tell one of my combinations in the higher grades that they won't be part of it because I'll only have three results in the team competition. No drop scores and no combination from a lower grade. That will be one of the toughest decisions in my life. Here in Riesenbeck we were just enjoying the moment."
Demi Haerkens was the first to perform in Grade IV in the team test and achieved an outstanding result of 79.730 percent. "A world record," was Coach Joyce van Rooijen's response bringing tears to Demi's eyes, who was extremely happy. "The realization hit me when I finished." She had won team gold at last year's European Championship. Last Wednesday, Haerkens had already secured gold in the individual test with her beautiful mare EHL Daula N.O.P. "This is truly amazing. I didn't expect it to go so well and to have team gold after just three rides" Demi smiled. "Daula was great despite the heat and maintained the right level of activity. It was pure joy during the test, but I also didn't leave anything behind. I'll do my best again on Saturday. I have really nice music, so we're going for it."
What's the reason for her success? "A very good team around me, a very good horse, supportive owners of Daula, patience and forming a bond with Daula. She's very suitable for me. She's very sensitive. Because I have limited muscle strength, she senses me perfectly. We've been together for over a year and a half now. I can really feel the difference from last year; we've grown together."
Hosmar Delivers an Outstanding Performance
Frank Hosmar delivered an outstanding performance in Grade V and he knew it. He raised his arms in celebration after the greeting. "Alphaville was amazing. Isn't he great?" was Frank's reaction as he get off from the Sandreo son (out of Marcia keur by Iglesias, bred by A. Hendriks from Reek). "I'm so happy. I had to work harder on Wednesday. Today, Alphaville was completely focused on me. He was with me. I was already super happy with the silver on Wednesday. Who would have thought that Alphaville would perform like this at eighteen after his illness? They wanted to put him to sleep; he was in such a bad state. And look at him now," Frank said emotionally, winning the Grade IV team test with a score of 76.447 percent.
Sanne Voets could concentrate on her own ride. The team gold was already secured before the leading champion performed her team test in Grade IV with Demantur RS2 N.O.P. (Vivaldi out of Kaylee keur prest sport-dres by Elcaro, bred by A.M. Reuzenaar from Schaijk). "Gold is still the most beautiful color," Sanne smiled. "I made some changes in my riding. I couldn't quite get there on Wednesday. Today the focus was on relaxation and that's when the really good parts came out. It's more than I could have dreamed of today. I promised Joyce that I would give it my all and I did. Tomorrow we'll dance in the Freestyle and I'm really looking forward to that." Voets achieved an impressive score of 74.460% in the team test.
Germany won team silver, including Regine Mispelkamp and her Highlander Delight’s (Florencio out of Pijalda MW vb prest by Jazz, bred by P.G. van Berkel from Holten).
Photo of EHL Daula N.O.P: Dirk Caremans