Lexington, Ky., Oct. 5
Great Britain scored a double on the opening day of the Para Dressage Championship at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games while riders from the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium also topped their divisional contests. The U.S. team is in 10th after the first day of team tests; the British team is first, ahead of Germany and the Netherlands.
U.S. rider Rebecca Hart had been named to the U.S. team, but she decided just before the competition began that she wanted to concentrate with Norteassa on the individual competition, so first alternate Jonathan Wentz stepped in. Laura Goldman, who rides at Grade Ia, was the team leader for the United States, scoring a 68.70 percent. “I thought the test was OK. I trained to be very accurate, like my coach taught me to be,” Goldman said. “I’m amazed. It’s because my horse is fantastic—without him, I couldn’t do it.”
Robin Brueckmann and Raison d’Etre contributed a 65.75 percent to the team total. “He’s a very nice horse, and I think I maximized what I could get out of him. He lights up with a crowd. If they’d applauded louder, I think he would have been ever better,” said Brueckmann, who rides at Grade IV.
Susan Treabess, another Grade IV rider, scored 63.00 percent for the team, and Wentz was the drop score with 62.76 percent.
Lee Pearson, a living legend of the Para Dressage world, clinched the Grade Ib team test honors with his 9-year-old gelding, Gentleman, while fellow Briton, Anne Dunham, steered Teddy into pole position in Grade 1a.
Para Dressage has been included in the FEI World Equestrian Games for the first time in Kentucky, and the big question is whether any of the other competing nations can beat break the British stranglehold. Great Britain has won team gold in every championship since the sport began.
Scores in today’s team tests will be added to performances in the individual tests over the next two days before the team medals and first set of individual medals will be awarded on Oct. 7.
Pearson Will Be Hard To Beat
Pearson, a nine-time Paralympic medalist, recorded a mark of 73.81 percent to top Grade 1b. The British rider’s score left him four full marks ahead of Norway’s Jens Lasse Dokkan who steered Lacour into runner-up spot.
Dunham also finished with a significant advantage when heading the line-up in Grade 1a. Riding Sally Ann Brown’s chestnut gelding Teddy, the seasoned campaigner who has been competing internationally for the last 14 years hasn’t allowed a recent heart operation to stop her in her tracks. “I thought the test was pretty good,” she said. “It was rhythmical and steady. For my first [big test] in two and a half years it was very good. I had a heart attack, and I had nine months when I couldn’t ride,” she explained. America’s Goldman was third in this class for her leading team score.
The Dutch dominated Grade II, in which Gert Bolmer and the aptly-named Triumph pipped teammate Petra Van de Sane and Toscane by a margin of 0.57, while Germany’s Britta Napel and Aquilina finished third ahead of Canada’s Lauren Barwick and Maile in fourth. Bolmer, who claims he is “an underdog,” said: “It was really hard work, but I think we managed to get [Triumph] fit right on time. He feels now better than he has since we have been here. I am pleased. There are still medals to be won!” he explained.
In Grade III it was Germany who held the whip hand when Hannelore Brenner and her Hanoverian, Women of the World, topped Denmark’s Annik Lykke Dalskov on Preussen Wind by almost 3 points. “For the first test it was OK, because it was a little bit safe,” Brenner said. “I wanted to keep him in front of my aids. It’s not too easy, because there are only short trots [in this test], but I’m very satisfied with my horse.” No U.S. riders rode in the Grade III team test.
Belgium’s Michele George joined the winner’s circle when topping Grade IV with a test from FBW Rainman (70.68%) that put them almost 2 marks ahead of runner-up Frank Hosmar from the Netherlands on Tiesto (68.87%). U.S. rider Brueckmann was sixth in this class, and teammate Treabess was 10th.