HE4 2579 (1)

Day one performances keep Paris Paralympic hopes alive for leading British riders

Great Britain’s paralympic prospects received a ringing endorsement on the opening day of the NAF Five Star Hartpury Festival of Dressage on Tuesday 2 July. 

Sophie Wells and Georgia Wilson showed selectors that they were well deserving of their current place on the longlist, with the Paris Paralympic Games now coming sharply into focus.

In the Hartpury University and College-sponsored CPEDI 3* Grand Prix Test A Grade V,  Sophie Wells secured a win with the 15-year-old Don Cara M on 76.385%. She also finished in second place riding her promising eight-year-old LJT Egebjerggards Samoa (72.564%). Taking third place and also long listed for the paralympic games was fellow Brit Charlotte Cundall and F J Veyron on 70.308%.

Georgia Wilson would have to wait until the final class of the day in the International Arena, where the CPEDI 3* Test A Grade II took place under emerging sunshine. Both of Georgia’s horses are on the long list for the Paralympics but she took the win with the striking chestnut  Sakura on 73.207% and second with Faside Got The Love on 70.242%. Canada’s Roberta Sheffield and Fairuza took third with 69.897%.

After lunch with the sun trying to break through the clouds, the International Arena hosted the CPDI 3*Grand Prix Test A – Grade III.  

Another combination with their eyes on Paris was long listed Natasha Baker and Keystone Dawn Chorus - also of Great Britain, who set an uobtainable target for her fellow competitors with a score of 72.233%. Another Brit, Erin Orford and Dragons Fire took second on 72.233% with Ireland's Katie Reilly and Lymepark Riggeletto on 65.500% taking third.

The Grade IV competition saw a home win for Nicola Naylor and Humberto L of 70.528% which must have caught the eye of selectors. Second was Izzy Palmer and Last Gift on 69.222% and third, representing Australia, was Sharon Jarvis and Furst Crusador on 66.806%.

Jessica McKenna, a BA (Hons) Equine Business Management Student at Hartpury University and member of the Equine Academy competed in the Para Grand Prix Test A Grade III on her horse Davidoff 188. Jessica was very pleased with her test and paid tribute to the support she receives as a member of the prestigious Hartpury Equine Academy: “The academy helps with all aspects of preparation, not just the riding. Having the support and being able to call on everyone is great.”

British longlisted riders dominated the leaderboard across all grades, including in the Grade I where Gabriella Blake and Strong Beau achieved 72.833%. Coming a close second is another home rider, Mari Durward-Akhurst and Athene Lindebjerg on 72.625%. Ireland's Michael Murphy and the 17hh black Cleverboy took third place on 72.167%.

The Hartpury summer classic always plays host to the final British Dressage Premier League of the season, and the Bret Willson Dressage International Ltd Advanced Medium 92  started proceedings in the Hartpury Arena on day one. Australian Steffie Bryant and Atlantic II were the first in the arena and caught the eye of judge Judith Harris, leading from the start and eventually securing the win with 67.888%. Chloe Dawes and Femma Lijbra came a very respectable 2nd on 66.757%. Third place went to the final competitor in the class, Georgia Stokes and SOS Johnny Cash on 65.000%.

Despite a number of withdrawals, the Bret Willson International Dressage Advanced Medium 98 DQ saw Matthew Frost and Kerouac deliver a very impressive score of 72.544%. Despite a fairly big field, no other competitor could better their performance. Second place went to Lucinda Elliott and Kakalina 69.079% following close on their heels to take third Sonnar Murray Brown and Tomoko on 69.035%.

The action continues on Wednesday 3 July.

Photo: Kevin Sparrow Photography