Brits Take the Top Spot in the Grade IV Competition.
Sophie Wells was only the third rider to go in the competition and gave a solid performance with Valerius to achieve 74.595% which was good enough to keep her in the lead for the rest of the session. Her 12 year old Dutch Warmblood (KWPN) gelding showed tension at times which was attributed to his lack of experience at international level, “I was pleased, he went into the arena and listened to me,” she said, “this is his biggest competition so far, he wasn’t spooky or looking at things and we have areas to build on the marks throughout the competition.”
Sophie is confident of being able to improve her scores further after the Individual Championship Test on Thursday to give her a second WEG individual gold medal, “He should be capable of a good high score, his individual movements and the quality of his paces [should improve the marks] but it is just being able to get it all together on the day in the test.” Sophie has further strengthened Great Britain’s chance of sitting in gold medal position at the half way point of the team competition, “Lee got 77% yesterday, I just got 74% so hopefully that puts us in good stead for the rest to come this afternoon" She said. "We have two more days left for the team so we have still got a long way to go but it is a good start.”
Belgium’s Michele George is never far behind Sophie in international competitions, and today is no exception. She sits less than one percent behind Sophie in second place with a score of 73.643% on her 2012 double Paralympic gold medallist FBW Rainman. “I’m very happy for our first ride, I always try to keep my horse confident and I used the test to discover the arena and see how he reacted to the crowd.” She said, “So I can’t say I am unhappy, I now know what to work on so it was a good day for me.”
The rivalry between the riders is clearly competitive but always amicable, and this is the first time in international competition that Valerius and FBW Rainman have gone head to head. Michele reflected “I really like it like this because it means you have to compete, Sophie is very good and I try to beat her all the time so we will see what happens in the next test.”
Trailing Michele by exactly half a percent is Dutch Rider Frank Hosmar riding his nine year old Sandreo bred KWPN gelding, Alphaville N.O.P, “I was very pleased with my horse,” he said. “It was a shame about my last transition [from canter to trot] but other than that I was happy with my test.”
The smallest of margins lies between an individual World gold medal and potentially leaving the championships empty handed. So the pressure is on for the grade IV riders as well as their teams, whose standings will be clearer after the end of today’s competition.
CLICK HERE for the full grade IV results.