Sophie Wells fourth in Paralympic freestyle: ‘I can’t be disappointed – he’s been amazing this week’

  • Britain’s Sophie Wells came away from the Paralympics dressage freestyle without a medal after finishing fourth in her grade V class today on Don Cara M.

    Sophie scored 73.56%, some 3% behind the medals, but said she couldn’t be disappointed looking her week overall. Don Cara M, owned by Roland Kinch, is a championship debutant who was originally the rider’s reserve mount for the Tokyo Paralympics.

    “He’s not such a fan of music so he just didn’t like the speakers all around the arena,” said Sophie. “We choose quieter music anyway and try to get away from a bit of a beat, but there’s only so much you could go backgroundy.

    “We just had a tricky ride – good luck to the judges marking my simple changes because I didn’t know what leg I was on when. I was like,‘I’ll do another one because the others had been pretty s**t’.

    “But he could have done that all week. He’s got a little bit hotter as the week’s gone on, but I can’t be disappointed at all because he’s done amazing this week. We’ve got two medals [team gold and individual test silver] and we did it on the day that counted for team purposes.”

    Paralympics dressage freestyle: Gold for Michele George

    Belgium’s Michele George repeated her gold from the individual test by taking top spot again on the 11-year-old mare Best Of 8 on a score of 80.59%.

    “The mare was just fantastic,” said Michele. “I’m a bit speechless because coming over here with a youngster – for me she’s still a youngster – and showing the world what she’s capable of, it’s just genius. I knew she could, but I thought it was maybe a little bit early to show everyone. At home, she can work like a queen, but as I always say, at home is at home. They are all superstars at home.”

    Michele was the last to go in this Paralympic dressage class and had to beat a big score of 80.24% laid down by Dutch rider Frank Hosmar (Alphaville), who eventually took the silver.

    “Once you’re riding into the arena, you don’t look at the scores,” she said. “I knew he had a huge score, but I thought, well the mare feels good. So I come into that arena and I push and go to the limit and I try to make something even better. That’s the spirit. You don’t have the focus on what the others do. I have to focus on my own horse and how she presents herself and that’s magic in freestyle, especially with younger horses because then you really can dance.”

    Michele described this as a “historical moment” for her. It is the second time she’s taken both individual golds in her grade of Paralympics dressage, after doing the same at London 2012 on FBW Rainman.

    Germany’s Regine Mispelkamp took the bronze on Highlander Delight’s with 76.82%, after fourth in last week’s individual test.

    The Paralympics dressage continues with the freestyle medal showdowns in three remaining grades still to come today.

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