Team competition gets underway for Great Britain’s para-equestrian athletes

12th Sep 2016

Today saw the first of the Great Britain team riders take to stadium at the Deodoro Equestrian Centre, as the second day of competition got underway, with three riders getting their Paralympic Games started for ParalympicsGB across the Grade IV and Grade Ia classes.

Great Britain’s Sophie Wells got the team off to a good start earlier this morning with Valerius, a horse that she’s developed for the past ten years, after producing some lovely work in the Grade IV class.

With some good marks awarded for the duo’s halts, half passes and their final centre line, the pair finished on 74.405%, which saw them secure second place on the scoreboard, just behind Belgium’s Michele George.

“I feel really good, he went in and he listened to what I asked him to do,” Sophie commented afterwards, “he got a little bit nervous when he first went in, which is understandable as he’s never been to a Paralympics before, but he concentrated and he did what I wanted him to do today. There were no big mistakes in the test which is important for day one, and it’s nice just to get in there.

“I got him ten years ago, the amount of work I’ve put in and the amount we’ve grown together, I was sixteen when I got him, and ten years later we’re here and it’s just awesome. I just wanted to go in and enjoy it; it’s awesome to be here and I want to do the best test for my horse and my support team.”

Up next for the British team were Grade Ia riders Anne Dunham and Sophie Christiansen. Taking to the arena first, Anne with The Lady Joseph Trust and Henrietta Cheetham’s Lucas Normark, produced a superb test in the midday heat to be awarded 73.957%, after scoring highly in their centre line work and halts.

Commenting after her test Anne said; “I was pleased, it was hard work but you expect it to be hard work. The arena felt enormous, I felt like a dot in there. The three of us, Amber [Anne’s groom and daughter], Lucas and I, were a team in there and we really focussed on each other.

“It was much better than I had hoped for; it was hot and he’s not great in the heat, he gets a bit sluggish but I was really pleased with him, and he went in there and went for it. I really enjoyed it; it’s everything I expected and hoped for.”

Sophie Christiansen with Di Redfern’s Athene Lindebjerg were the final ParalympicsGB athletes in for Great Britain today, and they had to wait until the very end of the Grade Ia class to get their Games underway. Showing some stunning work in the arena, the judges agreed with high marks awarded across the board for a final total score of 77.522%.

Sophie said; “She’s so young [9 years old] so to cope with that arena I was over the moon. It felt a bit tentative today, but I know that there’s more to come. Athene’s been absolutely amazing, for any nine year old to go out and do that, she doesn’t really like noise but she absolutely knows her job.”

With Sophie’s score being the highest mark awarded of the competition so far, Sophie and Athene topped the Grade Ia scoreboard, with Anne and Lucas finishing second. Tomorrow sees Great Britain’s final team rider head into the arena, as Natasha Baker and Cabral get their campaign underway in the Grade II event.

Full results from today’s tests can be found on the Rio 2016 website