‘Gold is still my favourite colour’: defending champion on coping with pressure as she leads in World Para Dressage Championships

  • Defending champions Sanne Voets and Demantur RS2 N.O.P. set their campaign off to a strong start to take the provisional lead in the Orifarm Healthcare FEI World Para Dressage Championships results for the individual contest.

    This Dutch partnership has dominated the grade IV ranks in recent years and they delivered another top-class performance in the team test today (10 August) to score 76.75%. The test name is a red herring, as the results of this performance decide individual medals and freestyle qualification at the World Para Dressage Championships, presented by Elsass Fonden.

    “I had quite a lot of nerves yesterday and, when we got here and from the moment I got in the saddle at the stables I was like ‘OK, this is our job and we can do this,” said Sanne, adding she was “really pleased with how he felt – so soft and so focused”.

    The Vivaldi son, owned by RS2 Dressage Center de Horst, showed his quality from the start and real scope through the trot serpentine, watched on by a sea of orange-clad supporters in the kiss and cry area.

    Demantur RS2 N.O.P. has a real ability to shift through the gears within a pace – moving from medium to collection while keeping his balance and rhythm. Their flowing canter loops were a highlight of this solid, clean test for the pair.

    “He always tries to give me the feeling of ‘We’ve got this. We’re a team, we did this before 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, OK, the results are what happens but it’s just a test but I just want to be the best rider I can be for my horse now.”

    Sanne and the 14-year-old gelding arrive in Denmark for their sixth senior championship, having won gold – and a rainbow of other medals – at every past Paralympic, world and Europeans.

    They scored individual and freestyle gold at Tokyo, where they helped the Dutch side to team silver. Their outstanding medal haul also includes triple gold at the 2018 World Equestrian Games and 2019 Europeans, plus gold medals at Rio 2016 and the 2017 Europeans.

    Reflecting on what another title would mean, Sanne added: “Each one is different of course, but if I look back to the five years leading to Tokyo my preparations and the way I handled the sport and championships when I look back was quite obsessive. I did hardly anything but ride and prepare and make sure he was fit.

    “My focus has changed a little, though of course it’s still a championships – you still want to win and gold is still my favourite colour, but the focus has changed even more to being a good rider, horse welfare and making him happy and fit and that’s what I really realised yesterday.

    “At the vet check I realised this might be the first championship [we] could lose, but there’s no way you can lose if you have such a horse. Such an amazing partner who is happy and fit and having a good ride there is no way you can lose.”

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