Tag Archives: FEI European Para-Dressage Championships

Individual Competitions Start with Dominant Gold Medal Performances

Sophie Wells (GBR) retained her European Grade IV title with Valerius, with Frank Hosmar (NED) on Alphaville taking silver (left) and Denmark’s Line Kongensgaard and Laponio scoring bronze at the JYSK FEI Para-Dressage Championships today. (Photo: Kate Houghton/FEI)

Herning (DEN), 23 August 2013 – The individual competitions got underway at the JYSK FEI European Para-Dressage Championships in Herning (DEN) today, with dominant winning performances from Austria’s Pepo Puch in the Grade Ib contest and from Great Britain’s Sophie Wells in Grade IV.

On his way to successfully defending his 2011 European title, current world number one and London 2012 gold, silver and bronze medallist Pepo Puch, riding Fine Feeling S, scored an impressive 76.138%.

Great Britain’s Beijing 2008 silver medallist in Hong Kong, Ricky Balshaw, continued his strong return to international competition following serious injury by taking the silver medal on LJT Enggaards Solitaire with 73.586%. There was medal joy too for Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup. She took bronze on her new horse, Steffi Graf, with a score of 71.862%.

In the Grade IV competition, reigning World and European Champion, and double London 2012 silver medallist (along with team gold) Sophie Wells retained her European title with an impressive 75.643% on Valerius. In second place was London 2012 double bronze medallist Frank Hosmar (NED) riding Alphaville to 71.810%. The main surprise of the day was another bronze medal for Denmark with European Championships debutante Line Kongensgaard and Laponio scoring 70.024% to make it a double medal day for the host nation.

Speaking after his win, Pepo Puch said: “Wow! It’s amazing to defend my title. The other one (from Moorsele 2011) was on Good Boys Feeling and now it’s Fine Feeling S, my second horse, and I’m really pleased.”

Puch, who is earning increasingly high scores, added: “I was really happy, especially as it was quite noisy, but the horse was really settled and stayed concentrated. He was super, really super. I’ve worked over the summer and made progress especially in my body. My body is more smooth and I can breathe better in my riding.”

Herning marks Great Britain’s Ricky Balshaw’s return to top flight international competition after breaking his back in an accident. On receiving confirmation that he had won silver, he said: “It’s not bad at all. I’m quite pleased really. I think everyone comes here and wants to win but when I actually think about it, second at his (LJT Enggaards Solitaire) first majors, when I’ve only had him seven months, I’m really pleased.

“Pepo is so established that maybe it was a little bit premature to think that I could do it today, but fair play to Pepo and congratulations to him. I’m really over the moon to beat everyone else and get the silver.”

One of the widest smiles belonged to Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup after being presented with her bronze medal. Stinna had been adamant in the run-up to the competition that she was here mainly to expose her new horse, Steffi Graf, to a major competition environment. But it was clearly a delight for her to have won a medal. “I’m so happy and I’m so, so pleased and overwhelmed,” she said. “I knew that if she [Steffi Graf] did her best we would maybe be in the top three. It was something I dreamed of but didn’t really allow myself to believe. But today I’m just so happy and so proud of my girl.”

After her Grade IV triumph, Sophie Wells said: “I’m very happy. I’ve waited a year to try and get back on top to be honest. London didn’t go my way and I’ve been hungry for this so I’m very happy. The way my horse went today I couldn’t have asked any more of him so whatever the result I was going to be pleased, but obviously I’m ecstatic about it.”

Talking about her performance, she added: “He felt much more on form today. He was with me and was listening. Obviously I was quite cautious with all the people in the audience. I made sure I warmed up down there [at the end of the warm-up arena where more people are sitting] and exposed him to them as much as I could. He felt really on form and when I went in I asked for more power and I only had to ask a tiny little bit and he was right there.”

Frank Hosmar was equally happy with his performance, especially after a quieter showing in the team competition earlier in the week. “I’m really, really happy,” he said. “I was two times bronze in London so I’m very happy with today. I have to do a little bit more now for the freestyle. On Wednesday I did the warm-up wrong so I changed it. I was thinking why was it not coming out in the arena so we talked about it and I changed it.” It’s a tactic that has clearly worked.

Bronze medallist Line Kongensgaard was, quite literally, speechless about her success. She did, however, manage to say simply: “I’m surprised and happy. I’m so speechless. It’s so amazing.”

With the JYSK FEI European Para-Dressage Championships now more than half-way through, President of the Grand Jury, Kjell Myhre, passed his verdict on the competition so far. “If you compare with some of the other championships maybe in some of the grades it’s been a bit lower, in some others it’s been a bit better,” he said. “What we do see though is that there are more and more countries at the top. If you go back a couple of years you had Britain as normal and Germany and Holland, but now we see some other countries coming up. We had Italy in the Grade Ia, so it’s really good.”

For Denmark’s Chef D’Equipe, Lis Lihme, today’s successes were a special gift, coming as they did on her birthday. “It’s my best birthday ever,” she said. “Two medals. I couldn’t have had any better. Stinna with a new horse and the first championship for Line. I’m just so happy.”

Tomorrow (24 August), the individual competitions conclude with Grades Ia, II and III. The results from those tests and today’s will then be combined with Wednesday and Thursday’s team test results to determine the overall team champions.

Follow the action: http://european-herning.dk/GB.aspx.

Live results: http://results.scgvisual.com/2013/herning.

Get social:
www.facebook.com/EuropeanChampionships2013
https://twitter.com/EMChampionships
www.facebook.com/the.fei
www.twitter.com/myfei_home

FEI TV: key performances and interviews with medal winners will be available as video-on-demand from the JYSK FEI European Para-Dressage Championships on www.feitv.org.

By Rob Howell

Media Contacts:

At Herning:

Britt Carlsen
Press Officer
bc@wiegaarden.dk
+45 96 570 580

At FEI:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
ruth.grundy@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 45

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
Email: grania.willis@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 142

Malina Gueorguiev
Manager Media Relations
Email: malina.gueorguiev@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 133

Team Tests Open JYSK FEI European Para-Dressage Championships

Pepo Puch (AUT) and Fine Feeling S claimed the top spot in Grade Ib at the JYSK FEI European Para-Dressage Championships in Herning (DEN) today. Photo: FEI/Kate Houghton.

Herning (DEN), 21 August 2013 – Grade IV and Grade Ib riders took to the arena for the first day of the team competition at the JYSK FEI European Para-Dressage Championships in Herning (DEN), today.

Great Britain’s London 2012 Paralympic team gold and double silver medallist Sophie Wells (Grade IV) and Valerius (74.333%) scored the event’s first win, gaining valuable ground in the team standings, with Belgium’s double Paralympic gold medallist Michele George claiming second on Saganne (70.500%).

Austria’s London 2012 individual gold and silver medallist Pepo Puch claimed the top spot in Grade Ib with Fine Feeling S on a mark of 75.400%, while Great Britain’s Ricky Balshaw on LJT Enggaards Solitaire scored a solid second place with 73.240%.

Host nation Denmark also got off to a good start, with its riders taking third place in both grades. Line Kongensgaard slotted in behind the leading pair in Grade IV, steering Loponio to 70.405%, and Stinna Tange Kaastrup and her new ride Steffi Graf finished on 71.240% in Grade Ib.

A new page in the history books of equestrian sport was turned today, with Para-Dressage athletes competing for the first time alongside their Jumping and Dressage counterparts at an FEI European Championship. The honour of being the first rider to compete in an integrated competition on the European stage fell to Ireland’s Rosemary Jean Gaffney, riding Ustero. “My partnership with this horse is only three months old and it is the horse’s second international start and first big test,” she said. “It’s a great honour to be the first rider at the first integrated competition.”

The three best combined scores from the team and individual test (in the five classifications) will decide the team medallists on Saturday, 24 August.

Speaking after her win, Sophie Wells said: “We came here to have our best possible competition and have had a solid start. It took us three days to travel here, so now my horse can rest for the rest of today and tomorrow, and then we can go out fighting (in the individual competition) on Friday. When we got here I just wanted to get on with it and it’s good to get the first day over with.

“We’ve got a really good support team around us and we definitely wouldn’t be here without the support of UK Sport and National Lottery funding.”

For Belgium’s Michele George, the day’s test was a good sign of the developing relationship with her mare Saganne. At just seven years old, Saganne (who Michele describes as being ‘born in my arms’) is relatively young and inexperienced, and so Michele was more than happy with her performance. “She is just beginning, so it is very exciting to see what this brings,” she said. “She’s a new horse and everybody is looking, but I don’t want to feel pressure. She needs to learn and, for me, she is a horse for the future. I don’t want to put pressure on her, but if the medals come I’ll be happy.”

Pepo Puch is the current Grade Ib world number one and Herning is his first major international event since winning gold and silver at London 2012. He said of his performance: “It’s amazing how positive my mare was. It’s not an easy arena as the people are quite close and in the free walk you have no reins and the horse has to be really settled and positive. I would say thank you to my mare: she did a good job. Our horses have to work to compensate for our disability and it is not easy for her to compensate for my bad hand. For me this is the most difficult test. With the music (in the freestyle competition) you get much more rhythm and that is easier, so I am really happy to get this result.”

For Grade Ib runner-up Ricky Balshaw, Herning marks a return to top flight competition since he suffered a severe injury after winning silver in Hong Kong at the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008. “I’m really pleased with the result,” he said, “as it’s the biggest arena my horse has ever seen. It is only our third international test and, for him, it’s a big learning experience. There were some things in the test where I feel I could pick up a few marks but we can fix those.”

Today’s last words go, however, to the two third placed Danish riders. Stinna Tange Kaastrup, it could be argued, is one of the faces of this competition having won individual gold and silver medals at the 2011 European Championships. Her relationship with her horse, Steffi Graf, is less than six months old and this was their first major international competition. “I had a fantastic ride,” she said. “She has developed incredibly fast and really did her best today. Steffi is a pleaser who does her best to make me happy.

“Riding on home ground is great. I can tell that people are with us. It doesn’t feel like pressure, just support. My goal is to have good rides and if it doesn’t pay off in medals I will not be disappointed. I can’t expect medals when I’ve only had my horse for so little time but, of course, I will be happy if they come my way.”

Stinna’s team mate, Line Kongensgaard, made her major international début in Herning and was the first Danish rider to take to the arena in this championship. She said: “I was very nervous, but it went well. I could have had more power but I rode on the safe side. There was a lot of pressure being the first rider of the team, but it is over now so I can relax and focus on the individual competition.”

The team competition continues tomorrow with riders in Grades Ia, II, and III competing. Among them will be Great Britain’s triple Paralympic gold medallist Sophie Christiansen (Grade Ia) and double Paralympic gold medallist Natasha Baker (Grade II). Natasha, who has been unbeaten for the past two years, makes her team debut in Herning.

Follow the action: http://european-herning.dk/GB.aspx.

Live results: http://results.scgvisual.com/2013/herning.

Get social:
www.facebook.com/EuropeanChampionships2013
https://twitter.com/EMChampionships
www.facebook.com/the.fei
www.twitter.com/myfei_home

FEI TV: key performances and interviews with medal winners will be available as video-on-demand from the JYSK FEI European Para-Dressage Championships on www.feitv.org.

By Rob Howell

Media Contacts:

At Herning:

Britt Carlsen
Press Officer
bc@wiegaarden.dk
+45 96 570 580

At FEI:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
ruth.grundy@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 45

Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
Email: grania.willis@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 142

Malina Gueorguiev
Manager Media Relations
Email: malina.gueorguiev@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 133