Lexington, KY - The unofficial results for the team tests in the Para-Dressage Championships indicate that the top three teams are very close. Great Britain stands in first place on 214.98, with a slim advantage of 2.1 penalty points over second-placed Germany on 212.88. The Netherlands follows in third place on 211.91. The USA is eighth on 198.16. Please remember that these are provisional results.
The highest placed rider for the USA was first-time international competitor Laura Goldman on Carlingford JD, the flashy black and white Irish Sporthorse gelding owned by Trudy Phillips. Classified 1a (most severely disabled, Goldman's walk test netted a provisional score of 68.706 which put them in third. Great Britain's Anne Dunham and Teddy scored 71.294 to secure first place, followed by Brazil's Sergio Froes Rieriro De Oliva and Reliquaia on second with 69.529.
"I thought the test was OK," said Goldman. "I trained to be very accurate, like my coach taught us to be. I've got to tell you, I was scared. Now it's not scared. I'm amazed at myself. It's because my horse is fantastic; without him I couldn't do it. And my coach is really on the ball. I hope the sport grows in this country, and we get as strong as the Europeans."
Goldman has only ridden Carlingford since the end of May - about 30 times all told before coming to Kentucky for the Games.
"I never thought I'd get to this stage. I had to fight to ride and to get people to work with me outside of therapeutic classes," admitted Goldman. "A lot of people think we're like a sack of potatoes on a horse, but we're not. I've always, always wanted to show, but I couldn't. I'm hoping my score will help our team and we'll move up. I hope I helped."
Robin Brueckmann partnered with Elly Schobel's Raison d'Etre and Susan Treabess did the honors aboard Moneypenny, owned by Katy Peterson. Both para-equestrians are classified Grade IV (least disabled). Brueckmann scored 65.750, netting sixth, Treabess earned 63.000 to stand 10th out of the 12 para-equestrians in the division. Michelle George (BEL), fourth to go, set the bar by earning the judges' approval and 70.687 percent. The next two scores were respectable - 68.875 awarded to Frank Hosman (NED) and 68.500 earned by Henrik Weber Sibbesen (DEN) with the remainder ranging from 66 and change down to the mid-50s.
All things considered, Brueckmann felt very pleased about their test. She started riding the Lexington, KY bred three-quarter Thoroughbred gelding last October. "My trainer Elly Schobel showed him at Grand Prix and I started riding him last October; he's a very nice horse and I think I maximized what I could get out of him," said Brueckmann. "He lights up with a crowd. If they'd applauded even louder, he would have been even better."
Susan Treabess also thought it was a good test, not to mention that the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games also happen to be her first time ever to get her feet wet in international competition.
"My goal was to have a clean test and a nice test and I did that," said Treabess. " We have a good harmony together because we have a really good relationship, and I thought this test was typical of that. I've been overwhelmed here. This has been a goal of mine for five years, and I've been riding this horse for three years to get ready. I show Prix St. Georges/Intermediaire I in able-bodied dressage. The horses have to be about the same level to do this. Really, this is way more competitive than Prix St. Georges in California. You have to have a quality horse to compete here."
That's a fact that became more apparent as the day continued. Lee Pearson (GBR) and Gentleman claimed the day's high score of 73.818 (Grade Ib), with the Grade III leader Hannelore Brenner (GER) aboard Women of the World breathing down their necks on 73.556.
Jonathan Wentz (USA) found himself way down in the standings for Grade II, 15th out of 18 in the class, but his attitude reflected the spirit that prevailed all day in spite of cool temperatures and a not quite warming sun.
"It was really solid! Quite an experience! My whole goal was to have a clean and precise test, and I did that. For the future, we'd like to push the highlights more," said Wentz. "There was pressure being added to the team at the last minute, but my goal is to support the USA."
Para-Dressage competition continues with the Individual Championship Tests Wednesday and Thursday. Individual Freestyle will run on Friday and Saturday.
Photo Credit: Laura Goldman on Carlingford JD was the highest place rider for the USA in Tuesday's para-dressage competition. Photo © 2010 Lauren Giannini.