11th-hour horse change to British Paralympic squad as multiple medal-winner ruled out

  • Sophie Wells’ reigning world champion ride C Fatal Attraction has been ruled out of the British dressage squad for the Tokyo Paralympics owing to a “fitness issue”.

    The 14-year-old Fidertanz gelding, owned by Charlotte Hogg, was the most experienced horse on the British side coming into these Games, with eight individual and four team senior championship medals on his CV. “Jorge” has been on every senior championship team since 2015, with the exception of the 2016 Paralympic Games where Sophie partnered Valerius to individual and team gold plus freestyle silver.

    The pair have taken home three medals – all gold and silver – from every senior championship they have contested, including double gold (individual and freestyle) and team silver at the 2018 World Equestrian Games.

    Sophie will now contest her third consecutive Paralympics with her direct reserve ride, Don Cara M (Don), owned by Roland Kinch.

    “I’m gutted that Jorge won’t be going to Tokyo, especially when he has felt so good. However I need to put his welfare first and it’s just come a little bit too soon,” said Sophie.

    “Massive thank you to Charlotte Hogg, my home team and the World Class team for doing everything we can this year.

    “Don is in great form and I’m looking forward to giving him the best experience possible for him to shine and show the world what I can see and believe in him. Huge thank you to his owners Rowland and Maria [Kinch] for their support and Amy Woodhead and Tracy [Woodhead] for passing me the ride.”

    Sophie, who had been preparing both horses in tandem ahead of the Games, has a stellar record with Don. The grade V rider took over the reins of the 12-year-old Don Jovi gelding from Amy Woodhead at the start of 2020 and the combination have never finished outside the top two in national or international competition.

    They have consistently scored in the mid-70s across the team, individual and freestyle tests over the last 18 months, and recent highlights include 78.51% at Hartpury CPEDI freestyle in July.

    British Equestrian para performance manager Georgina Sharples said: “Sophie, her home team and the World Class Programme equine sport science staff have done everything possible to have C Fatal Attraction fit and ready for Tokyo, but we have to put his welfare first.

    “We are grateful for the support of his owner Charlotte Hogg, and hope that she and Jorge will have further chances to represent Great Britain with Sophie at championship level.

    “In Don Cara M, Sophie has an equally able partner. She has worked hard this year to build his strength and consistency to match his talent and presence and we are looking forward to his Paralympic debut. Thank you to owner Roland Kinch for allowing him to make the trip to Tokyo.”

    This is the second change to the British squad in recent days, following the late call-up for grade I rider Georgia Wilson (Sakura) to replace Sophie Christiansen and Innuendo III, owing to a “minor veterinary issue”.

    The change also means Tokyo will be the first senior championship – as well as a first Paralympics – for all horses on the British side.

    The para dressage horses are currently in quarantine ahead of their flight to Japan on 18 August. The first horse inspection at the Games is scheduled for 25 August, with the competition running from 26-30 August.

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