‘There have been endless tears’: Natasha Baker defends her individual gold in Rio

  • Natasha Baker successfully defended her individual grade II title from London, when she rode Cabral into the gold medal spot again in Rio. Natasha — the only British rider from London 2012 to have been selected again on the same horse — scored 73.4% to finish ahead of Dutch riders Demi Vermeulen and Rixt van der Horst, who took silver and bronze respectively.

    After a difficult team test in which a large spook before entering the arena left ‘JP’ tense and nervy during the first half of the routine, Natasha was completely overcome at how well the 15-year-old gelding coped with the atmosphere today.

    “I said to him as we were trotting round in the 10 minute box, ‘just trust me, JP’, and he did. He worked with me and was so relaxed and the whole thing felt lovely,” said the 26-year-old.

    “Winning gold is a dream come true but this is his last championship, so I really just wanted to come here and show the world what he can do and I’m so grateful that he has let me do that today. I cried coming out of the arena and there have been endless tears since.”

    Dutch triumph

    The Netherlands had double reason to celebrate with Demi Vermeulen  and Burberry claiming silver ahead of their teammates Rixt van der Horst and Caraat.

    Burberry is an expressive, rhythmic horse, with a beautiful swinging trot, and their test — which earned 71.6% — was only marred by the 10-year-old Lord Loxley mare throwing her head up in one transition to walk.

    “It wasn’t a faultless test but I was so pleased with the score. I just wanted to get any medal so silver is amazing,” said Demi, for whom this is the first championship on this horse.

    Continued below…

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    Rixt held the lead for a long time from first draw, after an uphill and correct performance. But the Gribaldi mare broke to canter in her final medium trot, pulling her mark down to 70.7%.

    Sophie Christiansen will ride this afternoon in a bid to defend her grade Ia individual title, with Anne Dunham also in action for Britain.

    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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