Paralympian secures new ride who she hopes can go ‘all the way’ to Paris

  • Paralympian Sophie Christiansen has secured a new ride, who she will be aiming at this summer’s World Championships.

    Sophie bought the 11-year-old gelding Scirocco T, known as Rocco, from Jersey and Ellie Garrett a couple of weeks ago.

    “Rocco came to my yard for an able-bodied rider to try, but he got off the lorry and he was a lot bigger than they thought he was going to be. He’s nearly 18hh,” Sophie told H&H.

    “He was a bit too big for the rider, and my trainer who manages the yard said ‘this horse is for Sophie’.”

    Sophie lost her Tokyo-qualified ride Innuendo II to colic, on 13 March, a few weeks after buying Rocco.

    “I don’t believe in fate, but sometimes when a horse ends up in your lap you think ‘This is it’. Rocco’s temperament is amazing. He reminds me of Athene who I won gold on in Rio,” she said.

    “His walk is amazing, but as his movement is so big it means I’m going to have to get used to him rather than him getting used to me. It’s interesting, a lot of horses won’t make grand prix able-bodied horses but they can go all the way in para.”

    Rocco has competed to elementary level with Jersey, and Sophie will be aiming him at the para dressage World Championships in Herning, Denmark (6-14 August).

    “I have to get a medal at the World Championships otherwise I will lose my place on the GB squad, so no pressure! I totally get it, I haven’t won a medal in five years, but I was selected for Tokyo. I was hoping to take it slowly and see where we got to, but if I lose my funding I can’t afford to do it any more,” she said. Sophie had to withdraw Innuendo II before Tokyo owing to veterinary issues and was unable to compete.

    “Rocco has done a lot of demos in front of lots of people which was one of my prerequisites, because we’ve only got three years before Paris and I needed to know my next horse is comfortable in front of a crowd, so that’s a big bonus for me. It’s going to be a busy time getting to know each other and I’m very grateful to Jersey and Ellie.”

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