Report by Madeleine Hill in Deauville
Team GBR won a gold and four silver medals during the last day of the FEI European Para Dressage Championships in Deauville, France, returning once again as the undefeated world, European and paralympic champions with a haul of 11 medals in total.
Today (Sunday 20 September) was freestyle day and the British team won medals in every class they contested. Sophie Christiansen, riding in grade 1a, rode an outstanding freestyle to win the gold medal on her young Gribaldi mare Athene Lindebjerg. Sophie was the only rider in the competition to break the 80% barrier, but ever modest she came out saying “It wasn’t perfect…” but later admitted: “She was absolutely fab, it was amazing even if I hadn’t won!.”
Sophie’s team mate Anne Dunham, finished in silver medal position riding the Lady Joseph Trusts’s Knapstrupper stallion Lucas Normark. In the 1b test, the Austrian rider Pepo Puch on his chestnut mare Fine Feeling, beat long term rival Lee Pearson into silver medal position, winning his second gold of these championships. Lee was philosophical to finish second. “The sport has developed so much,” he said. “My aim was to be in the medals, not necessarily to win. I’m really pleased for Pepo.”
Individual rider Natasha Baker was thrilled with her silver medal, as she was less than satisfied with her test. She was beaten by the Dutch rider Rixt Van Der Horst, who went home with two gold medals. It was an exciting championship for Natasha as it was her ride, Christian Landholt’s seven-year-old mare Sookie St James, first major championships.
Another happy silver medallist for Great Britain was grade IV rider and H&H blogger Sophie Wells. She had to decide a week ago to bring her own young ride – Charlotte Hogg’s powerful eight-year-old Fidertanz gelding C Fatal Attraction – and she was also delighted with how the horse dealt with the championship atmosphere.
There was no British grade III rider at these championships, and the class was won by the consistent German combination of Hannelore Brenner and her own chestnut Walt Disney mare Women of the World.