Brits scoop para dressage medal pool

October 9, 2010

Britain's Para dressage Grade Ia riders claimed their second hat-trick of medals in today's freestyle competition at the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.


Emma Sheardown riding Purdy's Dream. © Kate Houghton/FEI
This time it was Emma Sheardown who was crowned World Champion ahead of Sophie Christiansen in Silver with Anne Dunham in bronze.

Emma Sheardown has had an eventful 36 hours, having won her first ever World Championship medal yesterday - a bronze in the Ia individual test - she then fell en route to yesterday's press conference breaking her two front teeth. The medical team attended and took her to the University of Kentucky hospital where the emergency dentist cemented them back. After a brief rest she was back at the Kentucky Horse Park and ready for action with Purdy's Dream.

Their test was well presented and flowed well to score 78.550% - quite an achievement under the circumstances. After her test, Emma said; "I am very happy with that performance. He felt really nice and improved on yesterday as he stayed on a better contact for me."

Scoring 78.550 she had more than one percentage point of an advantage over Christiansen, who also has cerebral palsy. Christiansen, riding Rivaldo of Berkeley in her Sir Paul McCartney-inspired music test, had a few small mistakes for a score of 77.850% to finish just behind Emma. "I stuck to my plan of extra warm up time but I got quite hot and the pressure got to me a bit. Three golds would have been nice as I could have shown Lee (Pearson) up! I was quite tired after yesterday but there are no excuses. I'm absolutely thrilled for Emma!"

Christiansen said she was "exhausted" after three days of competition. The heat at the Horse Park in Kentucky was intense today, "and since it was hotter today both of us (herself and her horse) were tired," she explained. But Christiansen is a sportswoman in the truest sense. "I don't want to make excuses," she said, "sometimes it feels good just to be done, and I'm thrilled for Emma that she rode so well after her accident".

Britain's final rider was Anne Dunham and she knew it would need to be the test of a lifetime to beat Sophie and Emma. Her partner Teddy was rhythmical as ever and consistent throughout for 74.800% but again she just couldn't better Emma's score and had to settle for bronze.

"I enjoy freestyle - it's about the challenge of making things technical and making the best use of your horse without being over the top. I've kept Teddy fresh all week by not over riding him and he's performed well in our three tests. I'm sorry my time at WEG is nearly over and this was my last test here. I'm looking forward to the Europeans and London 2012!"

In Grade 3, Germany's Hannelore Brenner proved unbeatable yet again. She racked up 79.200 on the leaderboard with a great test from her trusty steed Women of the World and her nearest rival, Denmark's Annika Lykke Dalskov, was almost four points behind when taking silver. Rounding up the truly international line-up was Australia's Sharon Jarvis and her 14 year old Dutch-bred Applewood Odorado. This was a sensational double for Brenner, who also won Wednesday's Grade 3 Individual.

Russia's Maria Zagorskaya, who rode in the Freestyle Grade 1a, said it took a few days to get used to the loaned horses, "but they were good horses that we leased. We have more complex tests that we normally do, but since these horses were borrowed, we kept it simple. I've only known this horse for a few days, but I feel that we have made a very good combination together. the first time I competed the horse in the team competition I had the feeling the horse was walking herself, without direction, as if she knew the track already!".

The medals will be presented on Sunday, October 10.

The stats

13 riders competed in the Grade 3 Individual Freestyle Championship today
18 riders competed in the Grade 1a Freestyle Championship
Germany's Hannelore Brenner secured her second individual gold medal of the Championships when topping Freestyle Grade 3