The Netherlands maintained their reputation as one of the strongest para-equestrian dressage nations ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. At the three-star CHI AL SHAQAB, the Dutch took the team title and four individual titles as competition concluded 5 March in Doha, Qatar.
The team beat Denmark and Germany, who finished second and third respectively, for the overall title. Dutch grade Ib rider and world and European medallist Nicole Den Dulk scored her first international wins on her horse Faust (known as Bubbles) in both the individual and freestyle tests. Den Dulk beat Austria’s Pepo Puch and France’s Celine Gerny, who took second and third respectively in both events.
Writing on her Facebook page, Den Dulk said: “We won! In the individual competition he gave me so much confidence to score 73.506%. In the freestyle I was really happy with the way Bubbles performed. We know what we can work on, but now we’re the top!”
There was a major win for Latvia’s up-and-coming rider Rihards Snikus on King of the Dance, ahead of Denmark’s Jens Lasse Dokkan in the freestyle grade Ia – a reversal of positions from the individual test. Portugal’s Ana Isabel Mota Veiga was third in the individual, while Germany’s Elke Philip took third in the grade’s freestyle.
In their international debut, the Netherlands’ Demi Vermeulen took the individual test grade II win on Burberry, ahead of Denmark’s Caroline Cecilie Nielsen and Dutch world and European champion Rixt van der Horst. But Van der Horst found success in the freestyle on Caraat, ahead of Nielsen and Germany’s Angelika Trabert.
South Africa’s double-Beijing 2008 gold medallist Philippa Johnson-Dwyer returned to form to win the freestyle grade III on Lord Louis; Denmark’s Susanne Jensby Sunesen came in second and Norway’s Ann Cathrin Lubbe in third. The same three also made the podium in the individual test, with Sunesen taking the win, Lubbe in second and Johnson-Dwyer third.
In the grade IV, Denmark’s Camilla Christensen won the individual test on Oestergaardens Deleight, ahead of Carolin Schnarre on del Rusch. However, Schnarre won the freestyle ahead of Christensen. Ireland’s James Dwyer (Johnson-Dwyer’s husband) came third in both competitions.