Great Britain's Sophie Wells and Germany's Hannelore Brenner claimed the first individual gold medals in the Para Dressage Championship at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky, USA today.
Wells, who is also highly-competitive in able-bodied sport and who competed on the fifth-placed British team at the European Young Riders Championship at Kronberg in Germany this summer, scooped the Grade 4 title. She produced a forward, flowing test with no mistakes from her chestnut gelding Pinocchio to score 71.677 which left her just over 1.5 points ahead of silver medallist Frank Hosmar from Germany while Denmark's Henrik Weber Sibbesen claimed bronze.
"I was quite pleased with my test", the British rider said afterwards. "My horse was a little difficult in warm-up, but I thought the trot-work was actually quite good. He came against me a little bit when I picked up the canter after the walk, but then he came back to me again which was good. When we were in here on Monday he was quite distracted by the open corners, but today he was much better. I think he was a bit nervous and was holding himself yesterday - it was a little bit up and down. But I'm still pleased overall with the test itself. It was good that we had a week before to get riding and get used to the weather and the surroundings", she added.
The Para Dressage Championship is taking place in the Covered Arena, and silver medallist Hosmar's horse also took some time to get used to the venue. "Today my horse felt really good. Yesterday he was a a little bit tense because he was reacting to the sound of the sand hitting the plastic fence (which surrounds the dressage arena) and it was distracting him because the arena is so quiet. So today we asked if they could turn up the music so that we couldn't hear the noise", he explained.
The German rider pointed out that today's test was more difficult, which suited his horse "because he gets bored easily and starts looking around. Today he was so relaxed, I could feel him waiting for me and so it was a really good feeling", Hosmar added.
Lifetime of Experience
Hannelore Brenner has a lifetime of experience behind her and a long-term relationship with her 14 year old Hannoverian mare, Women of the World. The 47 year old rider's trophy cabinet is already full of awards won at European and World Championships and at Paralympic Games - she took team silver and two individual gold medals at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, and team and Freestyle silver in Athens in 2004.
Today her score of 72.400 gave her Grade 3 gold while Denmark's Annika Lykke Dalskov (Preussen Wind) took silver and Australia's Sharon Jarvis (Applewood Odorado) took bronze. Women of the World gave Brenner a great ride. "We are like an old couple", the rider explained. "She knows what I think, and I hope I know what she thinks. She was so free and very happy." Brenner recognises the extraordinary progress in her sport in recent years. "Since 1999 the Para Sport has really taken a big step forward", she pointed out.
That progress is more in evidence than ever before at these Championships and the British, who have long dominated the team medal podium, have both Germany and The Netherlands nipping at their heels as they go into tomorrow's competitions with a narrow lead. Riders will battle for the individual medals in Grade 1a, Grade 1b and Grade 2 and then the destination of the 2010 World Championship Para Dressage team title will be known.
FEI TV - As well as live competition coverage throughout the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™, FEI TV will make all competitions available post-event via VoD, plus an exclusive daily 30-minute VoD highlights show from the Kentucky Horse Park featuring the best of the day’s action, interviews, previews and reviews. There will also be lots of behind the scenes footage available. Check out www.feitv.org
Facts and Figures:
The Para Dressage Championship is taking place in the Covered Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park.
A total of 13 riders competed in the Grade 3 Individual Championship today.
A total of 18 riders competed in the Grade 4 Individual Championship.
The Grade 1a, 1b and Grade 2 riders will compete for their Individual medals tomorrow.
The Team medals will be presented tomorrow, along with Individual medals for riders in all grades.
Frank Hosmar (GER) - Individual silver Grade 4 "The Games are really nice. For our sport especially it is god that they are able to integrate us with the other disciplines. It's really good that we're all together. All of the Dutch riders are in the same hotel. Usually we don't see each other because we are at separate competitions so this is really wonderful".
Lena Weifen (GER) - 4th in Grade 4 today "We liked the arena, it felt good overall. My horse didn't make any significant mistakes, but I felt we could have demonstrated more expression. I was happy that he got increasingly better throughout the warm-up and into the test. For my Freestyle I will use music from Michael Jackson, and I have elected to do simple changes instead of flying changes."
Wendy Fryke (USA) – 8th in Grade 3 today "It was the first time for me down the centre line, and I'm thrilled, he tried really hard. He played at times but kept it together. I am so excited to be here because it is my first time at an international competition. I have only been training on this horse for 10 months, so we are just getting to know each other".
ALLTECH FEI WORLD EQUESTRIAN GAMES™ - PARA DRESSAGE, DAY 1
Individual Test Grade 4: 1 (Gold) Pinocchio (Sophie Wells) GBR 71.677; 2 (Silver) Tiesto (Frank Hosmar) NED 70.129; 3 (Bronze) Rexton Royal (Henrik Weber Sibbesen) DEN 69.419.
Individual Test Grade 3: 1 (Gold) Women of the World (Hannelore Brenner) GER 72.400; 2, (Silver) Preussen Wind (Annika Lykke Dalskov) DEN 71.067; 3, Applewood Odorado (Sharon Jarvis) AUS 68.867.
Full results and startlists at www.alltechfeigames.com
Photo Caption: Germany's Hannelore Brenner and Women of the World claimed individual gold in Grade 3 of the Para Dressage Championship at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky, USA today. Photo: FEI/Kit Houghton.