British WEG team confirmed: riders aim for more golden glory

The para dressage team that will attempt to continue Britain’s unbeaten championship record at this September’s World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Tryon, USA, has been revealed.

The multi-medalled Paralympian Sir Lee Pearson will return to a championship team for the first time since Rio 2016, this time partnering his own home-bred mare Styletta. Lee and the dainty nine-year-old Sandros Dancer daughter claimed a double grade II victory at the Hartpury international in early July, and while WEG will be the mare’s first championship, it will be Lee’s 14th.

Sophie Wells MBE also brings plenty of experience to the team, having been selected with her European gold medallist, Charlotte Hogg’s 11-year-old C Fatal Attraction. Grade V rider Sophie also has a reserve horse listed: Jackie and Neil Walker, Valerie Woolford and her own seven-year-old KWPN stallion Gladstone.

Grade III rider Natasha Baker is another multiple gold medallist who took a year out of competition in 2017, but she returns to the British team for her second world games. Her ride is a horse she has partnered for just seven months, Emma Blundell’s nine-year-old Don Schufro daughter, Mount St John Diva Dannebrog.

WEG first-timer Erin Orford makes up the quartet, riding Annabel Whittet’s Dior. Grade III rider Erin and the Dimaggio mare made their team debut in 2017, helping Britain to gold and picking up individual bronze along the way.

Multiple medal-winning para dressage rider Sophie Christiansen announced last week she was withdrawing from the WEG shortlist to give herself more time to develop her partnership with Amazing Romance.

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Three more reserves have also been selected: Suzanna Hext with the Lady Joseph Trust and Henrietta Cheetham’s LJT Enggaards Solitaire, Izzy Palmer with the Wells family’s Touchdown M and Georgia Wilson with her own Midnight.

“It’s great to see Erin cement her place in the team after her debut in Gothenburg last year, as well as welcome both Lee and Natasha back with their new rides,” said British Dressage chief executive Jason Brautigam. “Their experience, along with Sophie’s leadership and cool head, makes this quartet a very exciting prospect.”

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