Equestrianism: Hindle gives Britain hope with best test

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The Independent Online

Emma Hindle gave British dressage an even greater boost than most people had anticipated when she rode the best test of her career on the chestnut stallion, Wie Weltmeyer, at Hickstead yesterday.

Hindle felt that her performance, on the first day of grand prix team competition at the European Dressage Championships, was merely on a par with the one she had ridden at Aachen in June, when she scored 69.25 per cent. The judges, however, were more impressed and gave her 71.08 per cent, which left her in fourth place at the end of the day.

Hindle's team-mate, Emile Faurie, also regarded her test as "definitely better than Aachen". He had already given a solid performance on Rascher Hopes for 66.46 per cent, so Britain had high hopes of both team bronze medals and Olympic qualification. These will be decided today, after the last two members of the British team, Nicola McGivern on Active Walero and Richard Davison on Ballaseyr Royale, have competed.

The defending European champion, Germany's Ulla Salzgeber on Rusty, leads with 78.25 per cent. She was clearly concentrating on her test rather than worrying about the positive dope test on Rusty after he won the World Cup Final at Gothenburg in March. She is leaving that to her lawyer, Ulf Walz, and remains favourite for the individual gold medal which will be presented on Sunday. By then she is bound to have won a team gold medal since the Germans, as usual, are already in front.

Hindle, at 28 the youngest member of the British quartet, was "very inexperienced" when she first acquired Wie Weltmeyer four years ago. "It took me a long time to learn how to ride him and to acquire a good technique in the arena," she said. She is based in Frankfurt, where she is trained by the Dutch rider, Ellen Bontje, who is now lying one place below her.

Damian Charles and the 17-year-old Racal B gave Britain a fine start in the concurrent British Jumping Derby meeting when they won the Alberta Canada Salver. The horse had been out of action for six months after falling and chipping a piece of bone off his hock.