Day three of the para-equestrian dressage competition at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games brought the first chance of medals for GBR in the Grade Ib Individual Championship test.
The Grade Ib featured two Brits in Lee Peason and Ricky Balshaw. Third to go Austria’s Pepo Puch threw down the early marker with his lovely chestnut mare Fine Feeling S posting an impressive 74.793%.
Lee and Zion (owned by Mr and Mrs Pearson, Gillian Chinn and Lee) were first to go in the second tranche of riders and the duo showed a picture of pure harmony today with a test packed full of energy and accuracy. The judges agreed with 77.31% proudly confirmed on the giant scoreboard overlooking the arena at La Prairie Racecourse.
After the test a beaming Lee said; “I just love that horse! He just gives me everything! He was still a bit aware of his surroundings which is quite novel because usually he’s just totally focus on dad. Today he stayed really relaxed. He warmed up perfectly; long, lose and round to get that big trot that he offers. The walk was really strong today; he stayed really relaxed.”
New Dutch superstars Nicole den Dulk and Wallace produced a lovely test to see the combination post a final score of 71.621%, which slotted them into the bronze medal position. Lee’s final main challenger came in the form of squad-mate Ricky Balshaw and LJT Engaards Solitaire (owned by the Lady Joseph Trust). It was a positive start but ‘Sid’ looked a little off colour and wasn’t his sprightly self to give 69.414%, leaving them out of the medals.
Afterwards Ricky said; “I’m gutted. He was a little flat in there. I had a mistake in the walk pirouette right in front of two judges so it cost me. It just didn’t happen for me today. I’ll look at the criticisms on the score sheets and see what can be worked on. My coach (Michel Assouline) was pleased with the test so not sure what went wrong, just one of those days.”
After the final rider from Ireland, Breda Bernie, had been Lee could finally breathe a sigh of relief and let it sink in that he’d successfully defended his World title, this time with equine partner Zion. Lee commented; “It’s a feeling of elation and relief. Years of hard work…the hard time at London…the hard time since London…not being selected for the Europeans…doing my farm up…putting other people’s trust in this horse…all paid off today. The support from friends, family, supporters, sponsors, UK Sport World Class programme plus an amazing horse has been brilliant. To be selected and to come here is amazing. It’s been great to have the chance to compete against Pepo (Puch) since he beat me in London and come and beat him on a different horse is satisfying.”
Both athletes will next compete in Friday’s Individual Freestyle competition.
Equestrian Team GBR is supported by the UK Sport Lottery funded World Class Programme; the British teams are very grateful to the support they receive from official Team GBR suppliers Dodson and Horrell, Land Rover, Mears Country Jackets, NAF, NuuMed, Point Two Equine, Tagg Equestrian and Toggi.