Britain’s Suzanna Hext has made an impact at her first championships, claiming individual grade III gold at the Para Dressage European Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.
H&H blogger Suzanna rode Pammy and Charlie Hutton’s Don Perignon gelding Abira to a score of 71.58% to take the top spot, with her team-mate Erin Orford claiming bronze with Annabel Whittet’s Dimaggio mare Dior.
“To see my name at the top of the leaderboard was a bit of a shock and totally surreal,” said Suzanna. “He was quite fresh in there and definitely up for it – the good bits were really good. I wanted a medal, but I’m absolutely over the moon with gold.”
This is 17-year-old Abira’s fifth European Championships, having partnered Charlie Hutton at the junior Europeans in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and the young rider Europeans in 2010.
Having only found out she would be competing in Gothenburg a week ago, after Natasha Adkinson and Sweet Caledonia had to withdraw, Erin Orford and “Pimms” pulled off a correct, flowing test for 70.38% and bronze.
“Pimms was a little nervous in the warm-up but as soon as I picked up the reins she started trotting off with me, which is when I know she feels good. She held her breath a little in the arena but kept it together and stayed with me,” said Erin, who was also making her championship debut for Britain.
The silver medal went to Germany’s Claudia Schmidt, who scored 70.61% with Romeo Royal.
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Sophie Wells and Julie Payne will also be in action for Britain later today. Sophie will ride her own and Charlotte Hogg’s C Fatal Attraction in her grade V individual championship test at 1.20pm BST, while Julie will compete in grade I with Di Redfern’s Athene Lindebjerg at 2.20pm BST.
All four team members will compete again tomorrow in the team tests, from which the team medals are solely determined. The freestyle takes place on Wednesday and will be contested by the top eight riders from each grade, based on today’s individual results.