Tokyo Paralympic dressage competition begins tomorrow (Thursday, 26 August) with the grade II, IV and V individual medals.
British riders’ times: day one (Thursday, 26 August)
- Grade II: Georgia Wilson (Sakura) – 4.16pm (8.16am BST)
- Grade II: Sir Lee Pearson (Breezer) – 5.20pm (9.20am BST)
- Grade V: Sophie Wells (Don Cara M) – 10.20pm (2.20pm BST)
Tokyo Paralympic dressage start times: who to look out for on day one
Grade II competitors will be the first riders into the atmospheric arena at Equestrian Park, starting with Beatrice de Lavalette and Clarc for the US at 4pm (8am BST). Tokyo is the pair’s first senior championship and they come to the Games on the back of a strong string of +70% scores in Germany and the States.
The combination is followed by Australia’s Victoria Davies – who is also making her senior championship debut – aboard her striking 14-year-old buckskin Lusitano stallion, Celere.
Next up are Georgia and Sakura (4.16pm/8.16am BST). The seven-year-old mare, who Georgia owns with Geoff and Julie Wilson, is aptly named for these Games – Sakura is the iconic cherry blossom that blooms across Japan each spring.
Georgia was a late call-up for these Games, following the withdrawal of Sophie Christiansen and Innuendo III, and it is testament to the strength of British para dressage that the side had a European champion waiting on the subs bench.
Tokyo is a completely new experience for the young British-bred mare Sakura, but there is no doubting her talent and Georgia has shown just how impressive she is under pressure. She won freestyle gold at her first ever senior championships at the 2019 Europeans exactly two years ago, that time aboard Midnight, and will be looking to make her mark on the Paralympic stage.
The multiple Paralympic and European gold medal-winning combination of Pepo Puch and Sailor’s Blue will be ones to watch at 4.40pm (8.40am BST). The pair have never finished outside the top three in international competition and will be aiming for the top.
But to do that they will have to get past Sir Lee Pearson, who has seven individual Paralympic golds (along with his four team golds) in his trophy cabinet. Lee rides his homebred Breezer, who he describes as “one of the most talented horses” he has ever had. The 10-year-old Bacardi son is out of the same mare as Lee’s world team silver medal-winner, Styletta. The pair produced an international individual tests personal best on their last outing, scoring 75.65% at Hartpury in July, and Lee will be looking to add Paralympic individual medal number eight to his collection at 5.20pm (9.20am BST).
Germany’s Saskia Deutz and the 10-year-old Swarovski mare Soyala open the grade IV individual competition, heading up the centre line in search of a medal at 5.51pm (9.51am BST). Brazil’s 2018 World Equestrian Games double silver medal-winning combination of Rodolpho Riskalla and Don Henrico will have medals in their sights at 6.09pm (10.09am BST).
Judges and viewers are given a short breather, with a break in competition before the formidable Dutch partnership of Sanne Voets and Demantur seek to open their Tokyo account at 7.13pm (11.13am BST). The combination went home with three gold medals at both WEG 2018 and the 2019 Europeans, so head to Tokyo in search of the elusive “triple-triple” of consecutive championship titles.
Rosemary Jean Gaffney, who has been Irish reserve for the last two Paralympic Games, has her time to shine at 7.40pm (11.40am BST) with the 12-year-old Painted Black mare Werona, who she co-owns with Susan Smallman. The strong US combination of Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer 40 round off the session at 8.07pm (12.07pm BST).
A fierce line-up follows with the grade V individual contest. Tamsin Addison and Fahrenheit will set the Irish challenge at 8.49pm (12.49pm BST). Three-time Paralympic individual gold medallist Michèle George will be next into the arena on the rising star, Best Of Eight. The 11-year-old Bonifatius mare’s scores have steadily and significantly increased across all three tests since their double European bronze medal-winning performances in 2019, and the Belgian rider will be seeking to turn those to gold here.
The established Dutch duo of Frank Hosmar and Alphaville, who have won a remarkable 22 medals at Paralympic, world and European championships, will be hard to beat. The pair are reigning grade V European champions, winning triple gold at the 2019 Europeans, and are hotly tipped to add Tokyo Paralympic gold to their CV at 9.53pm (1.53pm BST).
Britain’s Sophie Wells, too, will have medals in her sights. Sophie is drawn third last to go, with a start time of 10.20pm (2.20pm) aboard Roland Kinch’s Don Cara M, who stepped in to fill the place of her experienced championship ride C Fatal Attraction. This promises to be a particularly exciting test to watch – “Don” is a top-quality horse, who Sophie rates very highly and appears to be thriving with the attention and atmosphere that come with the Games. As this is his first championship, what he is capable of in the arena is unknown. But with his ability, Sophie’s experience and strong international results under their belts ahead of Tokyo, this is a partnership not to be missed at 10.20pm (2.20pm BST).
The equestrian competition will be live-streamed in full on Channel 4’s digital platform paralympics.channel4.com. Find out more about how to watch the Tokyo Paralympic dressage live and see the full start lists for each grade
You might also be interested in:
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.