As competition for slots at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games heats up, riders from as far as Brazil, the USA and Australia are in Hartpury for this week’s three star Para Dressage competition from Wednesday, held as part of Great Britain’s annual Festival of Dressage.
Rio 2016 double bronze medallist Sergio Oliva and double world silver medallist Rodolpho Riskalla are among the stars who travelled to Hartpury. They’ll be joined by the multi-Paralympic and world medallist Michele George from Belgium, who has two horses to compete, and who also supports the Brazilian team.
Kate Shoemaker and Rebecca Hart will fly the US flag. Hart, who won a silver and a bronze at last year’s World Equestrian Games (WEG) has competed at Hartpury before. Meanwhile, WEG bronze medallist Shoemaker is making her European debut.
Writing on her Facebook page, she said her horse, Solitaer 40, was: “doing great and settled in immediately. He seems to know he is back in Europe and is very at home since we arrived.”
With Germany, Great Britain and the Netherlands already qualified slots for Tokyo 2020, the race is on for nations to secure the remaining team places by finishing in the top seven ranked countries in the world, or as their continental region’s top team.
Team Ireland is making a big push for qualification, sending a full field to Hartpury, including Rosemary Gaffney and Kate Kerr Horan. Australia is represented by Matilda Carnegie.
At the major home competition of the year, and with competition for places at August’s European Championships at stake, a large contingent of British riders are on show. Defending European champions Julie Payne, Suzannah Hext and Erin Orford will be there, as will Rio 2016 and WEG gold medallist Sophie Wells and her regular teammate, Sir Lee Pearson.
The Hartpury Para dressage competition runs until 5 July and more information, including livestream, is available on the event website.
Stadl Paura and Somma Lombardo recap
In other Para dressage news, Austria’s Pepo Puch, Singapore’s Laurentia Tan and Belgium’s Barbara Minneci saw big wins at the Stadl Paura competition in Austria.
Meanwhile Italy’s double world champion Sara Morganti took the home wins in her grade I at the annual Somma Lombardo competition. That win capped off a great few weeks for Morganti, in which she was also named best female athlete at the Italian Paralympic Awards.