Sophie Wells smashes WEG record to put Britain into gold medal position

A fantastic performance from Britain’s Sophie Wells has catapulted Britain into an early lead in the para dressage at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Tryon, USA.

Sophie and Charlotte Hogg’s 11-year-old C Fatal Attraction (pictured, above) dominated the grade V division for a second day, topping the leaderboard with 77.23% — the highest grade V team score at a WEG to date.

“I knew I need to up my game for the team today,” said Sophie, who was crowned individual world champion on Tuesday. “He was amazing in the individual but I knew he could go better; we sat down and analysed the video, and I just wanted to get back in there.

“We’ve worked so hard over the winter and he’s come out like a different horse this year. Today was what I came here to do, and this was the best test to do it in — we need it for the team.”

Britain’s Lee Pearson also put in a solid performance for Britain in grade II ranks. He and his nine-year-old home-bred mare Styletta (pictured, above) didn’t get their WEG campaign off to a good start, being forced to retire in their individual test as the mare was unhappy. But they were back on form today, recording 71.6% to add to Britain’s tally.

“I was not worried about the placing today. I rode calmly and passionately in there, and said thank you to her on every transition,” said Lee who, like Sophie, is competing at his third WEG.

“I’m over the moon; it’s not the highest score in the world, and not the way I can ride, but the way I should have ridden today. I do believe that she will be a fantastic championship horse for the future.”

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The team competition will continue this afternoon with the grade IV division, while Britain’s remaining team members will compete in the grade III tomorrow. Natasha Baker will ride her individual silver medallist Mount St John Diva Dannebrog at 10.15am (3.15pm UK time) on Friday, 21 September, and Erin Orford will compete Dior at 11.22am (4.22pm UK time).

Britain sit at the top of the leaderboard at this early stage, with Denmark in silver thanks to a 74.85% grade II test from Stinna Tange Kaastrup and Horsebo Smarties. The Netherlands currently hold bronze, with two riders left to compete, while Germany lie fourth.

Horse & Hound has two journalists and a photographer in Tryon for WEG. Keep up to date with all the news on horseandhound.co.uk and in the magazine issues dated 20 and 27 September.