Madeleine Hill brings you up to date with the action on the second day of the para dressage competition in Normandy
Grade IV para dressage rider Sophie Wells (pictured top) rode a confident test this morning (26 August) to continue the British run of good scores and won her class with 74.59% on Valerius.
Sophie said: “I’m pleased. It’s his biggest competition so far, having done two Europeans but not a Worlds or a Paralympics. We’ve been working hard at home on the different parts of the test. He’s shown improvement and we can now build on that for the rest of the competition.”
The 12 year-old Dutch warmblood gelding (Flemmingh x Heidevrouwe) was a little spooky before he went into the arena, but soon settled down.
“He’s capable of a high score with his paces, but the challenge is getting it right all on the one day,” said Sophie. Horse & Hound’s blogger will be hoping to add to the team gold and two individual silvers she won at London 2012, plus triple gold at the 2013 European Championships in Denmark.
One of the most glamorous para dressage riders on the circuit, Natasha Baker rode a very obedient Cabral to win with a score of 73.647%. The pair were the last to go, but Natasha was aiming for a safe round for the team.
“He warmed up really well, but I probably did too much so I knew I’d really have to work in the test. But he just found energy from nowhere as he usually does!” said Natasha, who has established a strong partnership with the 12-year-old Polish-bred gelding. “It’s our fourth championships together. I know just what to do when he’s like that. He was totally with me and listening; just a good boy.”
The triple gold medallists from London 2012 suffered a surprise defeat in the grade Ia competition. Sophie Christiansen and Janeiro 6, who have proved very hard to beat on many occasions, were pushed down into third place here. Italian rider Sara Morganti on Royal Delight took the win with Laurentia Yen-Yi Tan representing Singapore second on Ruben James 2. It was close though, with Sophie scoring 74.261%, less than two percent behind the winners.
“It wasn’t easy in there today,” admitted Sophie, even before she knew she was beaten. “While I was walking round, before we went down the centre line, a fly started following us and it followed us right up the centre line! He tried to shake it off; these things happen!
“I like to watch my test on video before commenting, but I’ll say he felt like he went up a gear in there. He was relaxed and rhythmical, but maybe lacked the consistency for a better score. But I’m happy that way, it gives me something to work on for Thursday, which helps me to focus.”
The individual tests count towards the team result, so the team medal positions won’t be known until after Thursday’s competitions come to a close. Can Britain retain their unbeaten run at international championships? Time will tell…