European Para Equestrian Dressage Championships

By: Horse Deals

European Para Equestrian Dressage Championships
European Para Equestrian Dressage Championships

Britain’s team returns from Norway with 11 medals

The members of Britain’s Para Dressage team lived up to their billing as the world’s number one team by taking the European Championships in Norway by storm. They began the competition with a one-two in the Grade 1a team test for Sophie Christiansen (Lambrusco III) and newcomer Emma Sheardown (Purdy’s Dream) before Lee Pearson and Gentleman took the Grade 1b equivalent.

Simon Laurens and Ocean Diamond had to settle for the runner-up spot in Grade III, but normal service was restored when Sophie Wells rode Pinocchio to win the Grade IV team test. This gave the Brits a good start going into the individual championships, where Sophie and Emma took Grade 1a gold and silver. Lee added another gold medal to his amazing tally, while Jo Pitt and Estralita joined the fray, finishing fifth in the Grade II test. Simon took Grade III bronze, then Sophie Wells finished things off with gold in Grade IV. Sophie Christiansen was delighted with Lambrusco’s 74.2%, the day’s highest score, which helped the British squad to team gold. "I was so nervous that I couldn’t sleep last night," she said. "I took note of the judges’ criticism from day one and we improved our marks. Lambrusco was brilliant."

There was another brilliant final day for the Brits, who took three golds, a silver and a bronze in the freestyles. Emma made it an international debut to remember by reversing the places with Sophie Christiansen and capturing Grade 1a gold, while Lee produced a fabulous test to take the Grade 1b honours.

Jo Pitt improved into fourth place in Grade IV, after a close finish Simon Laurens won Grade III bronze and Sophie Wells completed a fabulous show for Britain with Grade IV gold. "Today, the rider was good, the horse was good and the judges were good!" joked Lee. Performance manager David Hunter added: "We’re so lucky that the Lottery funds Paralympic sports. It’s been a terrific show and is the first time any British team has won so many medals at an international championships."

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