‘You can always rely on him’: para team star makes remarkable comeback to help Dutch secure back-to-back world titles

  • A stalwart of Dutch championship sides, who came back from the brink after vets recommended he be put down this winter, produced the deciding test to secure team gold for the Netherlands in the Orifarm Healthcare FEI World Para Dressage Championships results today (13 August).

    Team anchors Frank Hosmar and Alphaville needed 75.3% for the Netherlands to successfully defend the title they won at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon. They delivered, posting 75.79% to help the Dutch side top the World Para Dressage Championships team podium.

    Home side Denmark took silver, their second ever para dressage team medal at a World Championships, with the USA repeating their bronze medal-winning performance from the Tokyo Paralympics to complete the podium.

    But while the battle for the top two podium spots in the team contest at the World Para Dressage Championships were eye-wateringly close, Frank did not feel pressure. An advantage for the team anchor spot, certainly, and testament to why this pair have won medals at every senior championships from London 2012 onwards.

    “I’m never nervous,” he said. “That’s my luck. All the years [I’ve been doing this] and I’m never nervous when I’m on the horse. When I was at stable I felt a little bit like, ‘Oh my god do I have to throw up?’ But when I’m on a horse, then that feeling is over.”

    The pair were trending over 77% for their early trot, dropping to around the 74-mark in the walk, where there were a few moments of tension with Alphaville coming against the hand slightly in the first turn on the haunches. Their canter lifted their mark, giving them their final plus-75% score.

    Frank had two horses qualified for these championships, and while he says the 11-year-old Guetta is “better” than Alphaville, he is still green – and growing – and he knew he could rely on Alphaville.

    “I can always trust him. We come in, and he says, ‘Okay, boss. Let’s do this.’ You can always count on him,” said Frank, who owns the Sandreo son with A Hosmar-Keekstra and Adelinde Cornelissen.

    The fact Alphaville is here at all is remarkable. The 17-year-old gelding became very ill in November and Frank nursed him back to health in the hope he could enjoy a comfortable retirement.

    “The vets told me to put him to sleep, that he won’t get better – it’s over. But my feeling told me, ‘no, it’s not over. There must be something more possible’,” he said.

    Alphaville lost a lot of weight and muscle, and Frank gave him round-the-clock care to nurse him back to full health.

    “I thought maybe I can help him so that he can retire, but never thought I would ride him again,” he said. “I never thought he would be in a Dutch championship or to be here in the World Championship – already winning one bronze medal and now his marks counting for gold.”

    What comes next will be decided by Alphaville. The horse comes first, competition – and gold medals – always second. But as long as the horse is well and is “having fun”, Paris could be on the table.

    World Para Dressage Championships: ‘Gold is my favourite colour’

    Team-mate Sanne Voets, who scored 78.42% in the team test with her multiple gold medal-winning ride Demanteur RS2 N.O.P, spoke about what this result means.

    “We are really happy. Of course you enter a World Championships with half a new team, which is pretty exciting – it’s hard to make predictions,” she said. “To win team gold again, it’s what I said, the other day, it’s still my favourite colour.”

    Senior championship debutants Demi Haerkens and EHL Daula, and Lotte Krijnsen (Rosenstolz), who has changed grade since her last team appearance at the 2017 Europeans, completed the gold medal-winning side.

    Nicole Johnsen, a relative newcomer to the sport, was the final competitor for Denmark. The grade V rider continued her impressive championship debut by producing a counting score for the team with Karina Johnson’s 13-year-old Moromax.

    The Trakehner stallion son of Occacio looked super focused throughout, with his powerful canter extensions and elastic paces impressing the judges, for a score of 73.31.%

    They were joined on the podium by Katrine Kristensen and Goerklintgaards Quater, Karla Dyhm-Junge aboard Miss Daisy, and Tobias Thorning Joergensen on Jolene Hill.

    New tactics paid off for grade III rider Rebecca Hart and El Corona Texel, who were last to go for the US side in the team competition, with the pair’s score of 74.71% World Para Dressage Championships results table securing team bronze. Kate Shoemaker (Quiana), Beatrice de Lavalette (Sixth Sense) and Roxanne Trunnell (Fortunato H2O) completed the US team.

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