‘This means such a lot’: Britain’s Sophie Wells crowned world champion in Tryon

Sophie Wells added to Britain’s gold rush with victory in the grade V individual championship at the World Equestrian Games, in Tryon.

The multi-medalled para rider piloted Charlotte Hogg’s C Fatal Attraction (below) to gold with 75.43%, in a test filled with harmony and power. It didn’t get off to an ideal start however, when Sophie and “Jorge” cantered out of their first halt, instead of trotting.

“I think he was a little bit nervous and it would have been helpful not to have a blip, though it does bring you back down to earth. But as we went along it got better and better,” said Sophie, who took gold with the 11-year-old Fidertanz gelding at the Gothenberg Europeans in 2017, but has not had an individual world title since 2010.

“This feels amazing, I’m so chuffed,” said Sophie. “I missed out on gold in Normandy in 2014, and it feels like a long time to get a chance to try again. I’m just so proud of Jorge — it’s been a long journey and this means such a lot. He came out today and he wanted to work and wanted to do it. But I think there’s even more in the tank for later in the week.”

Sophie’s long-time grade V rival, Frank Hosmar of the Netherlands, scored 73.17% to claim the silver medal with Alphaville NOP, while Germany’s Regine Mispelkamp took bronze on Look At Me Now in her first season of para dressage.

There was disappointment for Britain’s Lee Pearson, who retired his home-bred mare Styletta in the grade II individual earlier in the day, after the nine-year-old became unsettled.

“She seems to be struggling a bit with the humidity here. She’s only nine years old; she’s a spectacularly powerful horse and each day she’s been here she’s been feeling like she’s struggling a bit with the weather,” said Lee.

“I didn’t want to retire; I’m passionate about doing my best in the arena for my country but I felt that it was the right thing to do.”

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Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup took her first world title in the grade II, riding the Gribaldi gelding Horsebo Smarties. It proved a tight tussle between Stinna and Austria’s Pepo Puch, with a new championship ride, Sailor’s Boy. But Stinna’s 72.74% was just enough to clinch the title over Pepo, with the Netherlands’ Nicole De Dulk and Wallace NOP collecting bronze.

The grade IV championship went to the Netherlands, Sanne Voets leading from first draw with  Demantur NOP, the talented Vivaldi gelding on whom she took freestyle gold in Rio and the European championship title in Gothenberg last year.

Rodolpho Riskalla landed silver for Brazil — his first championship medal — aboard another stunning chestnut, the Don Frederico stallion Don Henrico, while Denmark’s Susanne Jensby Sunesen won bronze with CSK’s Que Faire.

The individual para championships continue tomorrow, with Britain’s Natasha Baker and Erin Orford both in action in the grade III division. Natasha will ride Mount St John Diva Dannebrog at 9.30am (2.30pm UK time), while Erin will compete with Dior at 12.18pm (5.18pm UK time).

The full report on the para dressage from WEG will be in next week’s Horse & Hound magazine, out Thursday 27 September, including exclusive analysis and expert opinion