"Italy’s Sara Morganti, one of the last riders to enter the arena, went one step further, dramatically edging out Tan to take top spot"
The form book was turned on its head on Tuesday (26 August), day two of the team tests in the para-equestrian dressage competition at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy, France.
In a thrilling conclusion to the Grade Ia team competition, Singapore’s Laurentia Tan pushed ahead of Great Britain’s multi-Paralympic and world champion Sophie Christiansen and looked set for top spot.
But then Italy’s Sara Morganti, one of the last riders to enter the arena, went one step further, dramatically edging out Tan to take top spot and move Christiansen into third as the test, and the day’s competition, came to an end.
Morganti, riding Royal Delight, scored 75.783% to Tan’s 74.552% on Ruben James 2, and Christiansen’s 74.261% on Janeiro 6.
An overwhelmed Morganti said: “I can’t believe it. It was my dream to come first, but Laurentia and Sophie are such good riders that I didn't think I could, but I worked very hard and I’m just so, so happy.
“I thought I would never come first before Sophie,” she added. “It is because I admire her and Laurentia so much that for me this is so precious.”
Great Britain’s Sophie Wells, riding Valerius, took top spot in the Grade IV with 74.595%, ahead of her close rival Belgium’s Michèle George, who rode FBW Rainman to score 73.643%. In third place was the Netherlands’ Frank Hosmar on Alphaville N.O.P. with 73.167%.
“I was pleased. He [Valerius] went in and listened to me,” said Wells following her debut ride at these Games. “It’s his biggest competition so far and he’s not done much this year with one thing or another.
“He got a little bit tense going around the outside but I reassured him so he came back to me and listened to me through the test. We’ve been working on different areas like the walks and the halt and those things improved and maybe I can build on them.”
The Grade II team test win went to Great Britain’s reigning Paralympic and European champion, Natasha Baker, on Cabral, with a score of 73.647%. She was ahead of the Netherlands’ Rixt van der Horst in second, who picked up a valuable 72.618% on her horse Uniek, and Canada’s Beijing 2008 Paralympic gold and silver medallist, Lauren Barwick in third, riding Off to Paris, who took bronze scoring 70.176%.
The end of the first two days of competition marks the halfway point of the team competition. Great Britain currently leads with 226.816 points ahead of the Netherlands on 217.838 and Germany on 216.697.
Wednesday (27 August) marks the build up to team medals, which are then awarded on Thursday (28 August), as well as the first Rio 2016 spots for para-equestrian dressage.
For more information on the Alltech World Equestrian Games 2014, visit the event website.