‘Paris is the end goal’: Natasha Baker produces counting score for the Brits as team competition goes down to the wire

  • Natasha Baker kept her cool to secure a counting score for the British side in the World Para Dressage Championships results table as she looks ahead to the long-term plan of Paris 2024.

    Natasha reported after her individual silver medal-winning test earlier in the week that Keystone Dawn Chorus (“Lottie”) was feeling exuberant (“she wanted to take off like a rocket ship”) and their performance told a similar story.

    “Some bits were better. It still felt marginally out of control,” said Natasha. “We just need to keep reinstalling those brakes!”

    Lottie looked to be relishing the Herning atmosphere, with Natasha’s sympathetic riding helping the Dimaggio mare to settle as the test progressed. Their score of 73.68% will count for the British team. Denmark, the US and the Netherlands are looking very strong as the hunt for medals hots up. There is one final grade to go (grade V) today, and the final team results are very much all to play for in the Orifarm Healthcare FEI World Para Dressage Championships.

    Paris qualification is also on the table at these championships, as the top seven teams – not including host nation France – will secure a ticket to the 2024 Paralympics.

    A step forward in the first halt and loss of rhythm in the medium trot – where Lottie took a single canter stride – were costly, and reflected in Natasha’s mark. But there was much to like, too, and Natasha spoke of how much they gained from this experience as she looks ahead to Paris.

    “She went in there and that atmosphere didn’t faze her. She wasn’t fussed by the clapping and coming here, our focus is so long-term – it’s Paris – and this is just a great opportunity for her to come to this kind of event,” said Natasha, who co-owns the 11-year-old mare with Joanna Jensen, Christian Landolt, and her parents, Phil and Lorraine Baker.

    “We have got such low mileage compared to everybody else that’s here. I’ve literally done one competition this year.”

    Natasha had a delayed start to her World Para Dressage Championships campaign as she got married to Marc Jaconelli in the spring. On her return, Natasha came down with a nasty illness, which meant she has had the best part of six weeks off.

    With all that considered, Natasha said she is pleased to “still be cracking the 70s”.

    “All you can do is do your best on the day. And I think I’ve done that with everything that has been thrown at me this year. I don’t think I could have done any more if I’m being honest,” she said.

    “I think from being so much weaker at the moment physically, I just can’t hold her together as well as I would like to. It’s amazing having that much power, but you need to be able to control it. I just don’t feel strong enough at the moment to be able to do that. But it’s great to be that way round, rather than having to motivate them.

    “Paris is the end goal, and it’s just all little steps to make sure that we’re in tip top position for that.”

    Team-mates Georgia Wilson (Sakura) and Sir Lee Pearson (Breezer) scored 72.97% and 73.53% in yesterday’s grade II, with team anchor Sophie Wells (Don Cara M) last to go at 3.32pm local time (2.32pm UK time) this afternoon.

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