Sophie Wells puts Britain within touching distance of team gold at the Tokyo Paralympics

  • Sophie Wells put Britain in the driving seat on the final day of the Tokyo Paralympics team dressage competition, with a fantastic test on Don Cara M.

    Roland Kinch’s gelding was on his toes warming up, but pulled an expressive test out of the bag – with just one mistake – to score a provisional 74.93, corrected to a final score of 75.65 – a personal best for the horse. Sophie’s test was all the more impressive as her 12-year-old ride was a late substitution for her top horse, C Fatal Attraction.

    The Grade V individual silver medallist produced a test full of quality on this sensitive horse.  They showed beautiful expression in the extended trot and a bold medium canter. There was one mistake with an uncalled-for change in the counter canter, but Sophie quickly put it behind her to keep Britain’s unbeaten golden Paralympic run alive.

    This bolsters Lee Pearson and Natasha Baker’s sterling efforts on day one of the battle for team medals. Lee topped the Grade II section on his own Breezer, scoring the pair’s personal best of 77.636%, while Natasha was delighted with Keystone Dawn Chorus’s effort in the Grade IIIs. They were second in that group with 76.618%.

    The British team now holds a total score of 229.9 on the live scoreboard. This gives them a clear lead at this stage of the teams who have completed with all three riders.

    Paralympics dressage: The Netherlands bid for podium place

    Dutchman Frank Hosmar, 43, scored 74.81% with the 16-year-old Alphaville, by Sandreo. The Grade V individual bronze medallist was bidding to boost the Netherlands’ bid for gold. The team’s combined mark of 151 would hypothetically put them in silver behind where Britain was at the two-rider stage.

    Frank lost marks for a slightly ragged halt, but by and large the transitions were beautifully accurate and the pair produced a supple and harmonious picture. Frank was a little surprised at the marks, which were lower than he expected, as he felt the test was better than his individual.

    “The result is not high, but I did my best, and he was so much nicer than last time,” said Frank. “I was on the spot in every step in the whole test. Last time he was a little scared, and this time he felt more confident, like he could rely on me.”

    The individual champion in this grade, Michele George, scored 77.05% on Best Of 8, to keep Belgium in with a shout of the medals. The mare showed off all her dynamism, although Michele did well to recover quickly from a stumble just before the simple change.

    Britain now faces an anxious wait while the Grade IV riders complete their tests. But Sophie has ensured that the other nations have to produce the tests of their lives to keep Britain from top spot.

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