Britain’s double gold medal debutante Julie Payne

Britain’s double gold medal debutante Julie Payne

Great Britain take gold in the Para Dressage Team Competition at the Longines FEI European Championships 2017

Thanks to scores of 73.581% from nine-time major championship rider Sophie Wells (GBR), on C Fatal Attraction, and 72.088% from Grade III individual gold medallist Suzanna Hext (GBR) on Abira, Great Britain triumphed by a margin of just 3.425% over Denmark.

“If nothing else happens in my life, this has just been the absolute pinnacle of my life, it’s an absolute dream and now I’m going to cry,” Payne said.

Inspired from the off by Stinna Kaastrup (DEN), who scored 74.000% on Horesbo Smarties in the very first ride of the day, the Danes gave the all-conquering Brits a mighty scare. Teammates Annika Risum (DEN) riding Aros A Fenris and Tobias Joergensen (DEN) on Bruunholms Caribian, both got marks above 70.000% in a wonderfully consistent display before Susanne Sunesen (DEN) and her mount CSK’s Que Faire stepped up.

The 40-year-old laid down a serious marker, scoring 74.175% in her nation’s final ride of the day. An experienced campaigner, Sunesen is used to finishing behind Great Britain.

“It would have been wonderful to beat them but I love the Brits, they keep the level up, they are wonderful horse people.”

Denmark’s team bronze medallist Susanne Sunesen

For much for the competition, the Dutch, bronze medallists behind Great Britain at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, had been right in the hunt with both Frank Hosmar on Aplhaville N.O.P. and Nicole den Dulk riding Wallace N.O.P., scoring more than 73.000% in the morning session.

But it was not to be, with Sanne Voets (NED) having to put up with another agonising defeat to her rivals, her 70.575% in tandem with Demantur enough only to see the Netherlands secure bronze.

“I was the one saying we would win team gold and I blew it,” said Voets. The individual Grade IV gold medallist did, however, share the crowd’s enthusiasm and revel in the excitement of the event.

“It’s good for the sport that it’s this exciting, till the last rider. I think the last time it came down to the last rider was 100 years ago!”

Team bronze medallist Sanne Voets (NED)

Para Dressage action continues tomorrow with the much anticipated Freestyle to Music. The Heden Arena will be rocking from 9.00 CEST. Just down the road, the Dressage Grand Prix concludes with the team medals in the Ullevi Stadium. Don’t miss it!

Full results HERE

Categories: Dressage, News