Once again the competition in the Para Dressage at La Prairie racecourse at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy leaves a fine line between competitors in the top three, this time in the Grade II Test.
Queen of grade II Para Dressage, Great Britain’s Natasha Baker proved exactly why she is current European triple gold medallist and Paralympic double gold medallist by producing a “safe team test” from Cabral to score 73.647%. “He warmed up really well, I probably allowed little bit too much for it so I knew I would have to work hard in the test, but in two days’ time I can take it up a gear,” Natasha said. She was pleased with the 13 year old Polish Warmblood’s performance “As soon as we went down that centre line he was totally with me and listening, he was such a good boy.”
Natasha opted to canter around the outside of the arena before the bell rang to commence her test in order to try and settle Cabral, “I can keep his attention a little bit more and its easier for me to get him listening in the arena that way,” she said.
Natasha leads the field of competitors by a margin of 1%, with Dutch combination Rixt van der Horst and Uneik hot on her heels with a score of 72.618%. Rixt left the area with a beaming smile, “I’m very pleased, I was very nervous because it is my first international championships," she said, "Uneik was relaxed; I was relaxed so I am happy." The Gribaldi bred Dutch Warmblood showed some moments of beautiful cadence and elevation in the trot, of which Rixt believes she can improve on for the Individual Championship Test, “I was very tense when I went in,” she said, “the horse could feel that so we can do better next time.”
In third place is Canada’s Lauren Barwick who scored 70.176% with Off To Paris who showed tension throughout his test which let the scores down. “It’s a little bit challenging because the cameras weren’t there when we trained, so it can be spooky” Lauren said, “but she settled for me nicely and I am really pleased with her.”
Thanks to a third Brit leading their respective grade, it is almost impossible for the team to be beaten at the halfway stage and look set to be in team gold medal position overnight.
Photo © PSV Photos