‘I want to be the best rider I can be for my horse’: First para dressage world champion of 2022 crowned in Herning

  • The first individual champion of the Orifarm Healthcare FEI World Para Dressage Championships results, presented by Elsass Fonden, has been decided in the grade IV division. The 2018 gold medallist Sanne Voets of the Netherlands has claimed back-to-back world titles as she continues her domination in grade IV with the 14-year-old Demantur RS2 NOP.

    Demantur has great ability to open and close within the pace, maintaining pleasing balance and rhythm. Their flowing canter loops were a highlight of this solid, clean test for the pair.

    “I’m just really pleased with how he felt,” said Sanne of the Vivaldi son. “He was really so soft and so focused.”

    “He always tries to give me the feeling of, ‘Hey, we got this. We’re a team, we did this before and we can do this again’. But the other side of working together for so long and having won so much already, is that the pressure keeps rising and you never get used to that.

    “Yesterday I decided just before I went to bed that the results are what happens, but it’s just a test. I just want to be the best rider I can be for my horse now.”

    This is the pair’s sixth senior championship, having won gold – and a rainbow of other medals – at every past Paralympic, world and Europeans.

    Sanne may have taken the gold on 76.75% but she was very nearly pipped by her own teammate Demi Haerkens with EHL Daula, who came close to stealing the lead in the World Para Dressage Championships results. Their final score, a tidy 76%, was enough for a decisive silver, however, at Demi’s first championship.

    “She gave me everything,” Demi said of the 14-year-old mare. “I really hoped for a medal, so it’s great everything came together.”

    The Gribaldi daughter showed her scopey trot, keeping real power and expression while maintaining rhythm and balance, to open their test with a plus-77% trending score. There was little to split Demi and Sanne in terms of marks, with the pair bang on the same trending score in the latter stages of Demi’s test.

    What is even more exciting is there look to be more marks to come from Demi. EHL Daula had a few walk steps into her halt, which was not quite square, and there did not appear to be a huge difference between the extension and collection in the walk.

    The pair’s canterwork was joyful to watch, with both Demi and the mare looking to delight in the feeling of power and quality of performance they were producing.

    In bronze was Brazil’s Rodolpho Riskalla, at his 19-year-old stallion Don Henrico’s final championship. They scored 74.93%.

    Gestüt Schafhof’s stallion is a rocking horse with a Formula One engine. He showed lift and spring through his active trot work, complemented by elegant canter work in a stunning frame.

    The duo were trending just behind Sanne through their clean test, ending with a powerful final centre line. Rodolpho punched the air with a huge grin to cheers from his supporters in the kiss and cry.

    “I am overwhelmed. He’s always doing everything for me and once again he was there and so relaxed,” said an emotional Rodolpho, who won his first medal at the 2018 World Equestrian Games, and plans to retire this Don Frederico son following the World Para Dressage Championships this year.

    “It’s amazing to have a horse that at every championship I can count on. He can be difficult, he is sensitive, but when we prepare and we go he is fine and he is happy to do it.”

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