Para Riders Expressing Abilities
Britain’s Natasha Baker will go down in history as the first rider on stage when para equestrian dressage premiered at CHI AL SHAQAB 2015. “It was never an option not to come”, the triple gold medalist immediately knew when she got her Federation’s invitation via e-mail. “This brings us together with the other equestrian disciplines. We need every opportunity to attract people and sponsors. Every bit like this helps.” After being placed second in the first test, she is already certain: “This is the best show I have ever been to.” Her personal goals are set: “The flight from England to Doha was already an excellent preparation for Rio 2016.”
Dutch Rixt van der Holst won the first Grade II test riding Uniek, her gold partner at the World Equestrian Games 2014. “He is always Uniek for me”. she played on words after scoring 76,765 per cent in the 20 by 40 metre-arena. Natasha Baker finished close behind on 74.853 per cent. “He gets better every year”, she describes her horse Cabral. The Polish-born horse is called “JP” at home, abbreviated for Pope Jean Paul, but his competition name Cabral after Brazil’s explorer might point to Rio, indeed.
World ranking No.3 Elke Philipps from Germany had a big entry with Regaliz. “The wait at the entry tunnel, with the music coming on and while looking at the large arena – that beats every birthday party excitement”, she said following her ride, scoring 75,942 for her performance, all done in walk due to her impairment after viral meningitis that has kept her in a hospital for 18 months.
Lee Pearson, who is the most successful para dressage rider of all times, ruled the competition in Grade 1b. Showing his Paralympic partner Zion in the arena at walk he earned 77.33 per cent for the test with 18 prescribed movements and the added collective marks. “It was a nice safe test”, he said. “After relaxing further we aim for more power and expression tomorrow”, the well known Ambassador of his sport announced.
Riders grade 3 and 4 used the full measurement of the arena for their 31 prescribed movements in three gaits. At their level lateral movements are added to the difficulty of the tests. Dutch Sanne Voets scored 70.965 for her win with Zoya Sollenburg who was a farm bound broodmare until two years ago. “I am thrilled to ride such a talented horse”, Voets was happy after her performance. “She was less nervous than me and behaves like a pro. As if she does this every day.” Robert Sheffield finished close behind, riding double Agent. The Briton turned Canadian had finished fourth at the World Equestrian Games in Caen.
The Dutch Federation has sent a seven-rider team to Doha and Frank Hosmar presented Alphaville N.O.P in great shape with impressive but yet relaxed movements for 71.349 per cent. Training with World Cup winning Olympian Adelinde Cornelissen, he partners with his dark bay Alphaville since seven years and took him to the London Paralympics where they won bronze.
Multiple gold medalist at Paralympics and world championships, Michelle George from Belgium lived up to her reputation. Travelling to Doha with her European championship horse Saganne they achieved 70.992 for fluid extensions and an overall impression of elegance and harmony. “I am very proud of her doing so well in this competition.”
Carolin Schnarre and Del Rusch, first out in this class, scored 69.603 per cent, excelling especially in the canter where she got 8’s. “Both managed to keep their nerves under control. “He can get quite sensitive when he feels this is all getting too much”, the almost blind rider said. Schnarre who worked towards becoming a professional rider before she lost her eyesight is an example for the close knit para equestrian set. She works and trains with Elke Philipps who is the owner of Schnarre’s horse Del Rusch. Every ten days the Philipps family is travelling from Bavaria to Schnarre in Northern Germany, some 600 kilometres, to see their horses and get into an intensive four days training period.
The level of AL SHAQAB’s first para equestrian competition was remarkable. Dr. Jan Holtschmit, Chief Judge of the Ground Jury said: “It could not have been better.”
Results for Para Equestrian Dressage after the first test:
1.Elke Philipp/ Regaliz (GER) 75.942
2. Laurentia Yen TiTan/ Ruben James (SIN) 73.333
3. Gemma Rose Jen Foo/ Cassis Royal (SIN) 72.101
1.Lee Pearson/Zion (GBR) 77.333
2.Nicole den DULK/ Wallace (NED)74.26
3.Anne Frederique Royon/J’Adore (FRA) 67.800
1.Rixt van der Holst/ Uniek (NED) 76.765
2.Natasha Baker/ Cabral (GBR) 74.853
3.Demi Vermeulen / Vaness (NED) 74.063
1.Sanne Voets/ Zoya Sollenburg (NED) 70.965
2.Roberta Sheffield/ Double Agent (CAN) 70.132
3.Ann Cathrin Lübbe/ Cypres (NOR) 64.737
1.Frank Hosmar/ Alphaville N.O.P. (NED) 71.349
2.Michelle George/ Saganne (BEL) 70.992
3.Carolin Schnarre/ Del Rusch (GER) 69.603