Roxanne Trunnell wins impressive individual gold in Tokyo with ‘goofy’ young horse

  • The USA’s Roxanne Trunnell has held on to her early lead to claim the gold medal in the grade I individual Paralympic dressage at the Tokyo Games.

    Roxanne’s brilliant score of 81.46% could not be surpassed, and she has been crowned the grade I individual Paralympic champion with the nine-year-old Danone I x Londonderry gelding Dolton. Her victory makes her the first USA rider to win an individual gold medal in Paralympic dressage since 1996, and just the second woman ever to win a dressage gold medal for the USA across both Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    This is Roxanne’s first Paralympics with Dolton – and her first championship gold medal. She and Dolton won freestyle bronze at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Tryon in 2018, which was their first senior championship together, and they have gone from strength to strength, only being beaten once in international competition since WEG and breaking world records along the way.

    “I felt like he was really with me; he was a really good boy. It surprised me how calm he has been,” said Roxanne. “Dolton is a very goofy young horse. He is temperamental, but he is also easy to get along with.

    “I didn’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.”

    Taking silver was the first rider into the arena on this second day of Paralympic dressage, Latvia’s Rihards Snikus riding King Of The Dance. He set an incredible standard, posting 80.18%, but was just pipped by Roxanne, who competed shortly afterwards. This is three-time Paralympian Rihards’ first medal at a Games, having finished within the top six at both London 2012 and Rio 2016, but never having quite made it on to the podium until now.

    The bronze medal went to Italy’s Sara Morganti and the Royaldik mare she has partnered for a long time, Royal Delight, on 76.96%. This is also a first podium finish at a Paralympics for the very experienced Sara, who is already the reigning world champion with this horse, and has also won many European championship medals.

    “The horse was very cooperative and I think I did everything I can,” said Sara. “I have had some difficulties and I didn’t know if I would make it here. Everything is a victory at the moment, just to be here with my horse.”

    It was a hugely competitive class, with several combinations having the potentially to reach the podium and even win gold, but Rihards described it as being very good for the sport, saying he had been “ready to fight” for a medal in the strong grade I field.

    The next and final individual class is for grade III riders, and features Britain’s Natasha Baker as one of the favourites for a medal with Keystone Dawn Chorus. Natasha will take to the arena at 8.36pm (12.36pm UK time) with Joanna Jenson, Christian Landolt and her family’s 10-year-old Dimaggio mare.

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