"I’m very happy that we did it all. I hoped to get a medal because that was possible, but I never expected gold."
It was an emotional day at the Para-Equestrian Dressage competition at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy, France, on Thursday (28 August), as a debut rider took Grade II gold, and Great Britain, the Netherlands and Germany booked the first three team spots for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The Netherlands’ Rixt van der Horst, at her first major international competition, defeated Great Britain’s Natasha Baker in the Grade II individual test. Riding Uniek, she scored 72.457% to Baker’s 71.429% on Cabral. Canada’s Lauren Barwick took the bronze, riding Off to Paris to score 70.914%.
A tearful Van Der Horst could not contain her emotion, stating: “I’m very happy that we did it all. I hoped to get a medal because that was possible, but I never expected gold. I can’t believe it. Now I have individual gold I’m going to really enjoy the freestyle.”
Belgium’s double London 2012 gold medallist Michele George won the Grade IV individual competition with FBW Rainman on 74.881%, just over half a per cent ahead of Great Britain’s defending world champion Sophie Wells, on Valerius with 74.333%. The Netherlands’ Frank Hosmar took bronze on Alphaville N.O.P., with 73.500%.
It was two out of four for Great Britain on Thursday. As well as picking up the team gold, Sophie Christiansen bounced back from her third place in the Grade Ia team test on Tuesday (26 August) to take gold in the Individual test. Riding Janeiro 6 she scored 77.565% with Italy’s Sara Morganti, riding Royal Delight, on 76.478%. London 2012 silver and bronze medallist, Singapore’s Laurentia Tan, on Ruben James 2, took the bronze with 75.087%.
Christiansen said: “I feel amazing. I teared up a bit in the national anthem. Today meant a lot to me because I had to come back and fight for the gold medal in a way that I haven’t done recently at least. It made it all a bit more special.”
Great Britain maintained its unbeaten run in the team competition comfortably taking the gold ahead of the Netherlands and Germany. The British team scored 456.024, The Netherlands 436.941, and Germany 432.510.
Friday (29 August) is the final day of the Alltech World Equestrian Games 2014, when Freestyle medals will be decided across all grades.
For more information on the competition, visit the event homepage.