Roxanne arrived at the Tokyo Games as the favourite for gold, having broken multiple world records in the past year with the nine-year-old Danone I x Londonderry gelding Dolton. While they could not quite reach their best score to date in this test, which is over 83%, they took the lead with a very impressive 81.46%.
Their test was fluent, rhythmic and graceful, with a jaw-droppingly square halt across the centre line pulling in big marks. Their test sheet was covered in eights, with nines for Dolton’s beautiful paces and Roxanne’s subtle, skilful riding.
“I felt like he was really with me; he was a really good boy. It surprised me how calm he has been,” said Paralympic dressage debutante Roxanne, who won freestyle bronze with this horse at the 2018 World Equestrian Games on home soil – her first international championship medal.
“I don’t really think about the pressure [of being the favourite] – it’s all noise to me. It’s just about me and Dolton, doing our own thing.”
The bar had already been set very high in this extremely competitive grade, with the first rider into the arena, Latvia’s Rihards Snikus, producing a super performance on the 13-year-old King Of The Dance. They posted a chunky 80.18%, but dropped into the silver medal position after Roxanne’s test.
Currently holding bronze at this early stage is the reigning world champion, Italy’s Sara Morganti riding her long-time partner, the 16-year-old Royaldik mare Royal Delight, with 76.96%.
Britain does not have any riders competing in grade I, but Natasha Baker will be in action in the grade III individual later today, riding Keystone Dawn Chorus at 8.36pm (12.36pm UK time).
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