‘She’s a princess’: reigning Paralympic champion eyes world medal hopes

  • Reigning Paralympic champions Michèle George and Best Of 8 set their cap at a World Para Dressage Championships medal with a plus-76% score in the individual grade V results.

    This lovely, uphill mare, who the Belgian rider sourced from Isabell Werth in 2019, presents a beautiful picture. A little tension did creep in through the trot work, but she held it together. Best Of 8’s canter is always a delight to watch, even with an unfortunate boot of the white boards which spooked her for a couple of strides, and her soft, balanced transitions were a real highlight.

    Michèle cited the mare’s performance as a significant milestone as she looks ahead to Paris 2024 on the horizon.

    “I’m very pleased with the mare. I think it’s a very difficult competition because there’s a lot of things that she sees and hears here, so she was a little tense, but I tried to manage it,” said Michele, who won double gold with her late, great campaigner FBW Rainman at her last World Championships in 2014.

    Michele punched the air with delight after their final halt, and their mark of 76.42% in the Orifarm Healthcare FEI World Para Dressage Championships results took the pair to the top of the provisional leaderboard.

    “I’m really proud because it was the first time I was riding her in these circumstances, so I didn’t know how she would react,” she said.

    “Whatever the others do, I’m really proud of her and I enjoyed it, even though there were difficult moments because she was a little spooky.”

    Michèle added that the Bonifatius daughter, who she co-owns with Wendy Laeremans, never ceases to surprise her.

    “But every time [we compete], I get to know her better. She’s very special, she’s a little princess,” said Michèle, likening their “give and take” relationship to living with a partner. “I’m sure that a few years ago when I bought her, it wouldn’t be possible to ride her in these circumstances.

    “She made another big step with me towards Paris and I’m really glad for that.”

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