Latvia celebrates first ever equestrian gold, while Michael Murphy takes bronze for Ireland in World Championships

  • Rihards Snikus has won Latvia’s first ever gold medal in equestrian sports, as he topped the Arifarm Healthcare FEI World Para Dressage Championships results in the grade I individual.

    Rihards rode the characterful 14-year-old Latvian warmblood King Of The Dance to a mega 78.54% score, to edge ahead of Italy’s Sara Morganti and Royal Delight, denying them a second consecutive world title.

    “I have no words – just wow,” said Rihards after learning he had become world champion. “The horse was great; the free walk was not absolutely great today but still very good.”

    King Of The Dance is an old-fashioned chunky type, with a huge, friendly face and massive ground-covering paces. He and Rihards have accumulated an impressive number of medals over the years they have been competing at top level, including silver at the 2018 World Equestrian Games, behind Sara, and double silver at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021. This, however, is their first gold medal, and is richly deserved.

    World Para Dressage Championships results Richard Snikus and King Of The Dance

    Richard Snikus and King Of The Dance at the World Para Dressage Championships

    Sara admitted that this is likely to be her 17-year-old mare’s final world championship, but was quite overcome to have got to Herning and secured a place on the podium – and a personal best score – after a challenging year.

    “I’ve had a very difficult year this year. I had to have surgery because of my neuropathic pain and then I had Covid which didn’t go very well,” she explained.

    “I have another horse and their scores are nearly the same, but we decided to bring Royal [to Herning] because I don’t know how many horses have done three world championships in a row, so we decided to do this together again.” She added: “The freestyle will be very special for me.”

    World Para Dressage Championships results: bronze for Ireland

    Michael Murphy bagged his first medal with bronze for Ireland riding John and Sue Murphy, Bronte Watson and Elder Klatzko’s Cleverboy. This was a first world championship para dressage medal for Ireland, and it came as sweet redemption for Michael, who finished at the bottom of the leaderboard in Tokyo, after losing his rein mid-way though his championship test. Today, the pair secured 74.14% to claim bronze ahead of Singapore’s Laurentia Tan, riding Hickstead. 

    “The main thing I was happy with was the fact that we stayed together,” Michael said. “There’s so many things that could easily catch his eye but he’d stayed with me.

    “And being able to do the championship test without dropping a rein is, I think, the main achievement,” he chuckled.

    Britain did not have any riders in the grade I championship today; Lee Pearson and Georgia Wilson were successful in the grade II earlier in the day, and Natasha Baker and Sophie Wells will both take to the BB Horse Arena in Herning tomorrow, to contest the grade III and grade V competitions respectively.

    In a change of format for this year, the World Para Dressage Championships results in the individual and team competition combined determine the combinations that will go forward to Sunday’s freestyle, with the top eight in each grade earning a place.

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