Snikus makes history for Latvia on amazing day of Para Dressage firsts

Media updates
10 August 2022 Author: Rob Howell & Stinna Tange

Latvia Rihards Snikus won Latvia’s first ever equestrian gold medal at a European, World, Olympic and Paralympic competition at the Orifarm Healthcare FEI Para Dressage World Championship 2022 in Herning (DEN) today.

On King of the Dance, Snikus scored 78.535% to take the gold in the Grade I Individual competition, narrowly ahead of defending champion Sara Morganti (ITA), at her third World Championships on Royal Delight, with 78.393%.

And in moment of history, Ireland won its first ever World Championship Para Dressage medal, with Michael Murphy taking the bronze on Cleverboy with 74.143%. An exhilarated Snikus said: “There are no words. Wow! It’s a historical moment. “The halt was great and the free walk was not perfect, but it was very good.”

An accomplished deejay when he’s not riding, he added that if he had to choose a song from his collection to play tonight it would be The Black Eyed Peas’ I’ve Gotta Feeling. “Tonight’s going to be a good night,” he laughed.

Katrine captures the crowd’s hearts

As World Championship debuts go, they don’t come much better than that enjoyed by Denmark’s Katrine Kristensen. In front of an enthusiastic home crowd and in only her second global championships, she took the gold medal in the Grade II Individual competition. Riding Goerklintgaards Quarter, she scored 75.778% to finish ahead of two of the biggest names in Para Dressage, Austria’s Pepo Puch, and Great Britain’s Sir Lee Pearson.

Puch, riding Sailor’s Blue, scored 75.333% to take the silver, just a whisker ahead of bronze medallist Pearson, on Breezer, who scored 75.091%.

“It was fantastic, and the Danish audience was amazing,” Kristensen said after receiving her gold medal. “It was a very big experience. We will celebrate a little bit later, but we have riders competing tomorrow and we have the team competition around the corner, so maybe a little celebration. “It’s hard to put words on it – maybe tomorrow when I’ve slept on it I will be able to. But it’s huge. For a para dressage rider, it’s the biggest goal to reach and it’s amazing.”

Thirteen not so unlucky after all

The first competition of the day saw The Netherlands’ Sanne Voets win her 13th European, World and Paralympic individual or team gold medal in the Grade IV Individual test.

Riding Demantur RS2 N.O.P., she scored 76.750% to take the title in a blistering competition which saw her pushed by her new teammate, Demi Haerkens. She scored 76.000% on EHL Daula to take silver, with Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Rodolpho Riskalla from Brazil picking up the bronze medal, riding Don Henrico to score 74.925%.

“I’m just really pleased with how he felt,” she said. “He was really so soft and so focused. He always tries to give me the feeling of ’Hey, we got this. We’re a team, we did this before, we can do this again’.

After collecting her medal, she added: “It’s still special, and the horse is really special. It’s different every time and every championship has its own story, and every medal has its own story.

“When I got out of the arena I didn’t see any cheering like in Tokyo and I didn’t know they couldn’t see the live scoring so I was like ‘OK, I might be happier than the scores are but if that’s the case then that’s the case. And then the scores came up and I was like ‘Oh no, never mind’.”

Tomorrow will see the Grade III and Grade V athletes take to the arena in Herning. Denmark’s double European and Paralympic champion Tobias Thorning Joergensen will be the main attraction in the Grade III contest, while Grade V will see defending champion Sophie Wells (GBR) try to retain her titles against an increasingly competitive field.