|Team podium Para Equestrian 1. England, 2. Germany, 3 Denmark Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Lexington - Kentucky 2010 (© Dirk Caremans)|
Lexington, KY—Great Britain continued its historical domination of the Para Dressage World Championships by taking the team gold, and sweeping all three individual medals in the Grade Ia division, as well as the individual gold and silver in grade Ib. These medals follow yesterday’s gold-medal performance by Sophie Wells, bringing to seven the total British medal count in para dressage at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
Leading the British charge was Sophie Christiansen, 22, who took individual gold in the grade Ia test with a score of 76.100 percent and provided a crucial score for her team. Christiansen was overcome when her score was announced.
“My trainer decided I should ride for longer today. I normally ride for 15 minutes, and today I rode for 30 minutes,” she said. “I’m so happy with him because he just took care of me. That score is the highest I’ve ever gotten in the individual test. The feeling afterward is so wonderful. I was so nervous this morning!”
Joining Christiansen on the all-Britain individual medal podium were Anne Dunham with silver (73.200%) and Emma Sheardown (71.900%) with bronze.
“I was pleased,” said Dunham, 61, after her ride. ”It went very well. This one was better than the other day. He was freer and more forward. I try not to let the pressure affect me. I simply try to do the best I can, just do my best and let people catch up afterwards.”
Sheardown, 25, was equally pleased with her performance. “I was really happy with it. I am even happy with the score,” she said. “This is my first championship, and it feels absolutely amazing, and I so like all the disciplines being here.”
Also mining British gold was grade Ib rider Lee Pearson, 36, who performed a nearly flawless ride on the handsome bay Gentleman to score 76.435 percent. British rider Ricky Balshaw, 23, joined him on the podium to accept the silver medal (72.870).
Pearson, a 12-year team veteran, found himself surprisingly anxious. “I was really nervous today. I had to tell myself to take a breath before I entered—for the first time. It was because of my expectations of myself and because I warmed up 10 minutes short. He felt ready, but my mind wasn’t.”
He added, “Every gold medal is special, but this one is different because it’s our first time at the WEG. So we will go down in history, even though we weren’t as comfortable as we like to be with the other teams breathing down our backs.”
|Lee Pearson (GBR) and Gentleman winning the gold medal in grade 1B Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Lexington - Kentucky 2010 © Dirk Caremans|
Balshaw survived a spooky moment with the flashy chestnut Academy Award to ride a strong, clean test. “I don’t know quite what was with the spook. He was coughing,” he said immediately after his ride. “I was quite pleased with the test. The pirouettes were good. I may have backed off a little bit in the extensions because of what happened.”
Dunham, Pearson, Christiansen and grade II rider Jo Pitt, 31, contributed scores to the winning British team performance (395.456). Team silver went to Germany (390.277), and team bronze went to Denmark (418.389), which edged the Netherlands (417.480) late in the day.
Danish rider Stinna Tange Kaastrup’s score of 70.174 percent clinched team bronze for Denmark and also garnered her individual bronze in grade Ib.
“I felt awesome out there,” said Kaastrup, 16. “My horse was a little turned on. He was very proud of himself to be out there, and I was very proud of him.”