‘I’m taking the best horse home’: Lee Pearson claims individual silver

  • Lee Pearson added another medal to Britain’s tally today, taking the silver in the grade Ib individual championship. He and Zion earned 74.1% with a smooth and very accurate performance to finish behind Austria’s Pepo Puch and Fontainenoir, on 75.1%.

    “Sunday was just a bit too perfect,” reflected Lee, referring to his excellent plus-75% team test on day one of the competition. “I had to work harder today — he has so many gears in trot and I had to work harder to help him stay in the correct one.

    “But I’m really proud of him to go in that lions’ den and come up with the goods and I’m over the moon with silver. I’m taking the best horse home, no matter what colour the medal.”

    ‘He was fighting so hard’

    Pepo Puch bettered his individual bronze from London, at Fontainenoir’s first Paralympics. The Florencio I 11-year-old always produces pleasing tests but today’s was particularly relaxed and fluid. The former eventer was quite overcome by his horse’s performance, especially when he heard the result.

    “He was fighting so hard and really on my side and helping me. He gave me everything and I am so proud of my Fondi.

    “The only problem is with the positive feeling in the test comes emotion, and with emotion it is so much harder to control the movement of my body,” added the Austrian, who injured his spinal cord in a cross-country accident in 2008.

    “We have been working so hard for four years — the first day after London was the first training day for Rio. We have so much support, but with that comes more pressure.”

    Austria's Pepo Puch rides Fontainenoir at the Rio Paralympics

    Austria’s Pepo Puch rides Fontainenoir to gold at the Rio Paralympics

    Continued below…

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    Denmark’s Stinna Kaastrup was the last rider into the arena, shaking things up by sneaking ahead of the Netherlands’ Nicole den Dulk and snatching bronze with Smarties. The 22-year-old, for whom this was a first Paralympic medal, has only been competing the Gribaldi 15-year-old since January this year.

    The day was not without drama as Canadian rider Ashley Gowanlock suffered a heavy fall from Di Scansano. The 15-year-old De Niro gelding took fright after the final salute of their 65.1% test, letting out a large buck and jumping out of the arena. Ashley, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was taken to hospital as a precaution but suffered no serious injuries.

    With Lee competing as an individual, Britain still have three team riders to contest the individual championship tomorrow before the team medals are decided. Natasha Baker and Cabral will be in action in the grade II at 2.20pm BST, with Sophie Christiansen and Anne Dunham riding in the grade Ia at 7.55pm BST and 8.40pm BST respectively.

    More information about how to follow the Paralympic dressage can be found here, and don’t forget to stay tuned to the H&H website for the latest news, results and scores.

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