She scored 75.643% to finish nearly 4% ahead of her nearest rival, The Netherlands’ Frank Hosmar, while the host nation’s Line Kongensgaard finished 3rd.
Sophie said: “I’m so happy with that performance — he was so on form, was really with me and listened all the way. When I asked for more, it was there. I’m so pleased.”
Earlier in the day Ricky Balshaw took silver in the grade Ib class with the Lady Joseph Trust’s LJT Enggaards Solitaire on his European Championship debut.
Riding ‘Sid’, a horse he’s had since the start of December, Ricky scored 73.586%, just behind the Paralympic Freestyle Grade Ib champion, Pepo Puch from Austria. Denmark’s Stinna Kaastrup took the bronze.
Ricky said: “He couldn’t have done any more today. It’s the first major championships I’ve competed at since I broke my back in 2011 and I’m absolutely buzzing. I want to get straight back on and do my freestyle now!”
The individual championship tests for grades Ia, II and III will take place tomorrow, when the team medals will also be decided. All eyes will be on British riders Sophie Christiansen and Anne Dunham, who compete at 13.03 and 14.29 respectively in the Grade Ia class. Natasha Baker, GB’s final team rider, enters the arena at 15.47.
Full report on all the action from the European para dressage championships in next Thursday’s Horse & Hound magazine (29 August, 2012)