Team GB para riders continued their unbeaten record at international level last weekend, returning home from the European Para Equestrian Dressage Championships in Moorsele, Belgium (2-4 September) with team gold and a clutch of other medals.

As well as keeping their unbeaten record at international level with team gold the squad also won seven other golds and three silvers.

“This is a truly outstanding result and deserves recognition from across sport,” said British Equestrian Federation performance director Will Connell.

The first all-female British para squad was: Anne Dunham and Teddy (Grade 1a), Emma Sheardown and Purdy’s Dream (Grade 1a), Deb Criddle and LJT Akilles (Grade III), Sophie Wells and Valerius (Grade IV). Natasha Barker rode Cabral in the Grade II) as an individual.

The team finished on a score of 444.26% after the two rounds, to finish nearly 14% ahead of silver medallists Denmark with Germany in bronze.

This breaks the previous highest ever team total.

“To achieve this with three equine and one human [Natasha Baker] ‘championship newbies’ makes the success even more astounding. These results show the depth of talent we have in Britain,” added Will.

“The standard in all Grades continues to rise and we still have much work to do ahead of London 2012 — competition for selection will be strong and we will need to ensure the core focus is on performing during the Games not just getting selected.”

Deb Criddle and LJT Akilles have only been together since February.

She said: “I’m just so pleased with him. I’m over the moon with where our partnership is and I’ve learned so much about him. There’s a lot still in the tank and I’m still discovering more and more about him.”

“It’s been amazing,” said Sophie. To come with a new horse [nine-year-old Valerius] was a risk but it’s all come together.”

British Dressage chief executive Amanda Bond added: “The girls and their support team have been simply stunning this week. It’s been a happy, determined and focused squad, which has shown in the results.

“With three horses and one rider making their debuts we had mixed expectations, but everyone rose to the challenges. They coped with the pressure and delivered the results, we can’t ask for more and I’m proud of everyone.”

Para riders Lee Pearson and Ricky Balshaw were in Moorsele supporting the team from the sidelines, following injuries that ruled them out of the championships.

In June Lee, 37, fell off during a training session, fracturing three vertebrae and crushing a fourth. And in July Ricky Balshaw also fractured his back.

Lee is back riding and taking it “a step at a time” but he has not yet decided on a return to competition date. Ricky is half way through is convalescence so will be a bit longer.

Full results

Individual

Grade Ia
Gold — Anne Dunham and Teddy
Silver – Emma Sheardown and Purdy’s Dream

Grade II
Gold — Natasha Baker with Cabral

Grade III
Silver — Deb Criddle and LJT Akilles

Grade IV
Gold — Sophie Wells and Valerius

Freestyle

Grade Ia
Gold — Anne Dunham and Teddy
Silver — Emma Sheardown and Purdy’s Dream

Grade II
Gold — Natasha Baker and Cabral

Grade III
Gold — Deb Criddle and Akilles

Grade IV
Gold — Sophie Wells and Valerius