The eight-time Paralympic gold medallist Sophie Christiansen has a new star horse in the making.
The eight-year-old Danish warmblood Amazing Romance was found in Denmark by Mette Assouline earlier this summer.
“He’s big and ginger, and I considered the names of lots of famous ginger men, but being patriotic I named him Harry after Prince Harry,” said Sophie. “He’s such a joy to ride — despite being 17hh he is very balanced. The first time I rode him, it felt as though I had been riding him for years.”
After winning triple gold in Rio, Sophie made the difficult decision to take a year out of competition, giving up the ride on Di Redfern’s Athene Lindebjerg, who won triple gold with Britain’s Julie Payne at the European Para Dressage Championships in Gothenburg this week.
“I re-evaluated things after Rio — I had basically given up four years of my life for dressage and people don’t realise what a sacrifice that is,” explained Sophie, who will now be coached by Rob Trobridge. “I wanted to bring the fun back, with a new coach and a new team, and finding the right horse was the last piece of the puzzle.”
The hunt for sponsors
Currently, Harry is based with the Assoulines, and will be competed over the winter by their head girl Jess Thompson, who also piloted Athene in able-bodied dressage prior to Sophie.
“The horse has a fantastic walk and a very good brain — Sophie loves him to bits and we’re very excited about him. We hope he’ll be her Tokyo horse,” said Michel Assouline.
While Sophie has bought Harry herself, she is on the hunt for sponsors, and possibly an owner.
“Para dressage is so expensive, and I am looking for an owner if the right person comes along,” she said. “I am hoping to find sponsors ahead of Tokyo, as otherwise I may be forced to retire. There is such a lot of pressure to win gold medals, as otherwise I lose my UK Sport funding, which I am very grateful still to have.”
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