‘She’d go through fire for me’: Grade III gold goes to Denmark with Britain’s Natasha Baker scooping silver in Tokyo

  • The individual section of the Paralympic dressage at the Tokyo Games has concluded with Danish rider Tobias Thorning Jorgensen claiming grade III gold ahead of Britain’s Natasha Baker in silver. The bronze medal went the Netherlands’ way, with early leader Rixt van der Horst holding on to a podium place.

    Tobias had strong scores to beat, with Rixt having posted 75.76% with Findsley and Natasha going into the lead from midfield with 76.26% on Keystone Dawn Chorus. But he and the lovely grey mare Jolene Hill are not the reigning European champions for nothing, and with another two years under their belts to get to know one another, they produced a stunning performance here to clock up a huge 78.97% and take over the lead.

    Their score proved untouchable, and Tobias has been crowned grade III individual Paralympic dressage champion on his Games debut. Paralympics are in Tobias’s blood, however, with his mother Line having competed at the London Paralympics.

    “I was so focused all the ride and then the last turn, I just had this feeling that it was good. I was so happy, so I just smiled,” said a very chuffed Tobias, explaining that he knew he had very stiff competition. “I knew that Rixt and Natasha would always come in to take the medals. I knew they would be my biggest opponents, but that if I did my best I could take the gold. I had to do my best, because if I didn’t, they would both be there.”

    Paralympic dressage grade III gold medallist Tobias Thorning Jorgensen

    Paralympic dressage grade III gold medallist Tobias Thorning Jorgensen

    The highlights of Tobias’ test included the Blue Hors Schufro Hit mare’s floaty medium trot, and wonderful lengthened walk, which earned several nines, and the very fluent leg yields.

    Tobias said that the extra year has proved useful, as they have been able to “take those steps back [in training] and then take 10 forward”.

    Jolene Hill is a mare with attitude, though, according to her rider.

    “She’s a real mare and if I don’t ask her first, she gives me the finger and says, ‘You can do something else’,” laughed Tobias. “But if I ask her correctly she’ll be there and will go through fire for me.”

    Natasha’s silver means that every one of the four British riders in Tokyo has won an individual medal, with Lee Pearson taking grade II gold, and Georgia Wilson claiming bronze in the same grade, and Sophie Wells winning grade V silver.

    Keep up with all the Paralympic dressage results.

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