Franky Reid-Warrilow and Dolley Whisper gave a masterclass in all three phases at the Helvoirt 2* European Championships to claim the individual gold medal by a convincing seven point margin.
The home produced mare was third last to go in to the dressage arena and produced a stunning test. With all eyes watching, Franky delivered a truly professional, mistake free and polished performance. The little mare was attentive and expressive throughout with the real highlight coming in their last medium trot, where she belied her small stature to show unrivalled power and cadence that wowed both judges and audience alike. During the test the GB support team had a tense time watching the score board flickering the position of the pair from 3rd to 1st place continuously. Franky reported that half way through her test, during the walk, she glanced up at the scoreboard and when she saw 3rd position it made her go for it even more. The dressage concluded with the British duo taking the lead on 40.40, but only just, as the Hungarian pair of Csaba Sarkozi and PK Halle Berry sat just 0.7 penalties behind.
Meanwhile in the team standings, Great Britain had made a fantastic start. A harmonious team test, followed by a leading individual score and good solid performances underneath from all six combinations, gave Great Britain a 10 point overnight margin ahead of the Germans.
Cross country day saw a clever and technical track built by Bas Verhoeven and it was deemed a true championship test. Questions came up thick and fast especially from fence 6 onwards. The leading pair had to sit back and watch for an entire afternoon before being the last on course in the 30 degree heat. With a precarious GB team position (only two fellow team members had posted clear rounds and only one inside the time), on a course that was causing carnage, the pressure was again on. However, Dolley Whisper and her rider set out meaning business and did not disappoint. A faultless round saw them breeze through the finish line seven seconds under the optimum time to increase their lead to 2.7 penalty points, although still less then a fence in hand overnight. Sadly in the team standings Great Britain slightly fell by the wayside and had lost their gold medal chance to an unpassable German team. Two combinations failed to complete and Danielle Dunn had two uncharacteristic run outs. The team just hung on to bronze medal position. Belgium held fourth with less than a 3 penalty buffer and the Netherlands, with what seemed an unassailable lead, sat in silver position over 20 penalties to the better.
After a successful Sunday morning trot up for both the leading pair and Team GB, the final phase saw a good show jumping track set in the Helvoirt’s packed main arena. Again the British duo had to sit through an afternoon of watching before taking their chances as last to go. Poles had been flying, but the Brits remained strong with a clear round from Tyler Cassells, four faults for Danielle Dunn and an unlucky 12 faults for Zoe Wilkinson. However, in a turn of events the Dutch team sat below Team GB, when the final pair entered the fray but with less than a fence in hand. With unthinkable pressure, Franky piloted her phenomenal mare to the most notable clear round of the day. Never looking like touching a fence, they convincingly claimed their well deserved top podium position for an individual gold medal, which in turn led to the amazing feat of Great Britain rising to clinch team silver.