Great Britain Leads as the Grade Ib Contest Heats Up

Despite the deluge of rain throughout the afternoon, the Grade Ib Team Test heated up to provide some thrilling competition which reward the spectators that braved the weather.

Great Britain Leads as the Grade Ib Contest Heats Up
© PSV Photos

The Godfather of Para Dressage, Great Britain’s Lee Pearson, gave a masterclass in producing magnificent trot work from horse at it’s first major Championship. Zion, a horse notorious for his flowing movement, showed some tension in his walk work but displayed a cadence in his trot that no other rider in the class could match. Although the pair were averaging a score of 77% throughout their test, the initial final mark displayed was only 74.28% which put them into second behind Austria’s Pepo Puch and Fine Feeling S who posted a score of 76.48%. However Pearson’s score was adjusted after the realisation of a calculation error which put him up by more than 3% to give him a final score of 77.96%, good enough to push the Brit into first place.

Lee was elated to see the increase in his marks, “I’m just really please for the team, it starts us off in a really good place,” he said “it’s days like today you wish it was a medal day!” But Lee has given himself every chance of clinching yet another World gold medal to add to his collection of six.

Considering the electric atmosphere and Zion’s apparent anxiety, the 10 year old Dutch Warmblood coped well with his first experience of such an environment and worked with Lee throughout the test. “He was quite nervous in the arena but I was still really pleased with him,” he said, “the trot work was phenomenal but the walk was a bit precarious and that showed in the marks.”

Puch, previously a 4* eventer before his tragic accident in 2008, showed off the long ranging walk of Fine Feeling S which allowed their marks to creep up throughout the test, despite the foul weather. “I am really happy, especially as my horse doesn’t like the rain,” Pepo said of the 17 year old Hanoverian mare. “Normally when it rains, she goes back in the stable, and with the water on the floor today it was not easy to hold the horse on a line.”

A surprise score of 72% gave Italy’s Silvia Verati third place at the end of the day with her own 10 year old Westphalian gelding, Zadok. “I’m happy, I didn’t expect this - I expected a worse position so I am positive,” she said.

The individual test to come, which contains more trot work and asks for extensions in the gait, will favour Pearson’s horse so it is likely that he will drive a bigger wedge between himself and Puch, whose horse lacks the fluidity in the trot that Zion shows. But all is to play for in the individual rankings, there are easily six to eight riders that could put themselves in medal contention by the end of the individual test, potentially pushing Silvia and even Pepo from their current podium positions.

CLICK HERE for the full Grade Ib results.

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