Battle of the Titans for Grade IV Gold

Belgium’s Michele George takes her first Grade IV Para Dressage World title today just 0.55% ahead of Great Britain’s Sophie Wells in the Hippodrome at La Prairie racecourse in Caen.

Battle of the Titans for Grade IV Gold
© PSV Photos

In the tightest competition for a gold medal yet at the World Equestrian Games 2014 (WEG), the victory was Belgium’s. Michele George rode her 2012 Olympic Games partner FBW Rainman to a score of 74.881% with an accurate test that pleased both the crowds and the judges to push herself into first place as British rival Sophie Wells was riding into the arena to commence her challenge for the gold.

I can’t put into words how happy I am because it was so close at the end, Sophie and Frank were so good today,” Michele said as she spoke of the competition. Her 12 year old gelding was more alert going around the arena today than during her team test on Tuesday but Michele managed to settle him before the bell, “For me it was really hard to get him where I wanted but I did it and I am very happy,” she said.

Michele believes that the strong competition within the sport, and particularly this grade, can only be good for the sport of Para Dressage, “If there are no other rides who are competitive then there is no sport,” she said, “so we have to try to be the best all of the time, for me it is necessary, otherwise I quit.” Sophie agrees with this also, “Frank and Michele have always been close [to my scores] in the past five years, they are always going to be there so hopefully we will push each other to do better.”

Sophie rode her heart out on board the expressive Valerius, but the final score fell just short of clinching the top spot with a mark of 74.333%. “I couldn’t be prouder of him, he felt amazing in the test,” she said of her 12 year old KWPN, “but it just wasn’t quite good enough on the day, maybe another day the same test would have got a different mark.”

Following the form book from Tuesday, The Netherlands’ Frank Hosmar claimed the bronze medal riding Alphaville N.O.P on a score of 73.500%. The Dutch rider was pleased with their performance, “I am satisfied, there are things that could have been better but at this moment I couldn’t do anything more,” he said, “the trot was better on Tuesday, he was carrying himself more so today I had to work a little harder but the canter was so nice.”

This is the first time that the two grade IV titans, Valerius and FBW Rainman, have competed against each other, and by no means are the results today indicative of what could happen in the Freestyle, the small margin of just 1.5% between the top three leaves the door wide open for medal contentions tomorrow as the top seven from the two days of competition qualify.

Individual Championship Test Scores:

  1. Michele George (BEL) – 74.881
  2. Sophie Wells (GBR) – 74.333
  3. Frank Hosmar (NED) – 73.500

CLICK HERE for the full Grade IV Individual Championship Test results.


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