There was little indication (other than large puddles and the odd abandoned car) of the unusual and unexpected deluge of rain (even by British standards) which, yesterday, had submerged Hartpury, the stunning venue for the FEI World Para-Equestrian Championships. Indeed, a new day had dawned, with important medals at stake and both World Individual (per Grade) and Team medals up for grabs.
There were many surprises in store and despite the domination of the British riders throughout Fridays competition (see press release The Show Must Go On), todaybs Individual competition and medals were much more indicative of the international presence here at Hartpury (A brief description of the individual winners follows the team results).
However, there was little that could stop the overall brilliant performance of the British team, thus re-confirming their status as the definitive World Champions (lest we forget European and Paralympic), a title which they have conserved since itsb inception!
The athletes to contribute to yet another British Gold were: Anne Dunham - Grade Ia, Lee Pearson b Grade Ib, Simon Laurens b Grade III and Michelle Crunkhorn b Grade IV. Itbs a remarkable result for the home team and is more than deserved for a country whose dedication to disabled sport and Para-Equestrian has been proven time and time again.
The importance of the team medals can not be underestimated as they will also provide the first three teams with the coveted and hotly disputed qualification slots for the 2008 Paralympic Games in Hong Kong.
Thus in second place, and also the proud recipients of 5 qualification slots to the Paralympic Games, is Germany with Britta Napel b Grade II, Angelika Trabert b Grade II, Hannelore Brenner b Grade III and Bettina Eistel also from Grade III.
Bronze goes to Norway, very closely followed by Brazil. The team members to have secured the 5 coveted qualification slots for Norway for the 2008 Paralympic Games are: Jens Lasse Dokkan b Grade Ib, Silje Guillund b Grade III, Ann Cathrin Lubbe b Grade IV and Sigrid Rui also Grade IV.
For purposes of clarity, we shall now report the new World Champions of the different Grades in chronological order, starting with Grade Ia.
The new World title for Grade Ia goes to Brazilian rider Sergio Oliva riding El Grand Champ, an amazing achievement given that this is a borrowed horse (trained by Nicolas Commenge and owned by Annabelle Dervin who is also at the Championships, competing for France in Grade IV) and he has only had all of 10 days, if that, to get acquaintedb& Silver went to Slaven Hudina from Croatia riding Tulasi (another remarkable achievement) while Bronze went to Sophie Christiansen (European Champion) from Great Britain with Gazel.
There was little debate as to the winner and new World Champion for Grade Ib, the highly decorated and experienced Lee Pearson (GBR) aboard Altino (a very recent and by the looks successful partnership) proved to be the man of the day with the highest score across all Grades with 77.333%. Silver was awarded to Nicole Kullen from Australia aboard Worleston Billy, a fantastic result given the few weeks Nicole had to prepare with her borrowed horse. While Bronze went to Ricky Balshaw from Great Britain aboard Deacons Giorgi.
The new World Champion for Grade II is determined and accomplished rider Nicola Tustain (GBR) aboard Hotstuff, who competed despite recovering from a cracked coccyx which should have kept her well away far from the arena. Silver went to German rider Britta Napel with Durbridge 28 while Bronze was awarded to another German national, Steffen Zeibig on Waldemar.
Grade III was hotly disputed and saw Annika Lykke Dalskov from Denmark aboard Alfavard April Z become the new World Champion, only just ahead of German rider Hannelore Brenner on Women of the World and in third place British rider Deborah Criddle aboard Figaro IX.
The new World Champion from Grade IV is none other than Norwegian rider Ann Cathrin Lubbe (current Paralympic Champion) aboard Zanko. In second place came Philippa Johnson on Benedict while Bronze went to Sabine Peters from The Netherlands with Papillon.
It was, in every way possible, a fantastic day of sport, spirit and resilience b and it is with great anticipation that we look toward tomorrow for the Individual freestyle competition.
A very warm hand to the new World Champions, all the competitors in todaybs events, the organisers and the staff for providing yet another great moment in the history of Para-Equestrian Dressage and taking the sport to yet another level!
For full results please consult the official website: http://www.hartpury.ac.uk