Britain’s paradressage team remains unbeaten in international competition, taking gold at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.
Lee Pearson (Ib), Anne Dunham (Ia) and Sophie Christiansen (Ia) all scored over 70% to secure the team victory, Lee and Sophie taking individual gold in their grades in the process and Anne silver.
Team member Jo Pitt’s was eventually the drop score with Estralita, but had any of the other riders had disastrous rides Jo’s plus-66% score would still have been enough to secure team gold – such was the supremacy of the other riders.
Sophie was reduced to tears following the announcement of her 76.1% score.
“It’s the most amazing feeling, it’s such a relief,” she said. “I was incredibly nervous this morning; we’re under so much pressure as there’s huge expectation for Britain to keep on winning paradressage gold medals. I was exhausted and just so happy to have done well and to get that score for the team.”
Lee was hoping for more power today from Gentleman and improved his score by three per cent on the team test with 76.435%.
“I’m competitive,” he said, “I knew Anne and Sophie had already done enough to secure the team gold, but I still wanted to file the best score.”
With fellow Brit and good friend Ricky Balshaw snapping at his heals in the grade Ib, Lee couldn’t afford complacency.
Ricky pulled off a 72.870% mark riding Academy Award, which was good enough for the silver medal.
He said: “’Oscar’ went airborn in the warm-up right before my test, but in the arena he was fantastic. That was his first test here [having been held at the first trot-up they could not complete a warm-up test] so I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Sophie and Anne were joined on the podium in the grade Ia by teammate Emma Sheardown (Purdy’s Dream) in bronze, contesting her first World Games.
Emma rode a faultless test for 71.700% and said: “I’m really happy with my horse, he felt nice and fluent. I never thought that I would make it to a World Games, let alone on to the podium.”