2012 Paralympians among squad selected to represent Britain in Denmark
British Dressage have today announced their selected squad of five riders, to contest the upcoming ecco FEI Para-Equestrian Dressage European Championships* in Herning, Denmark (21-25 August), which includes three multi-medallists from the 2012 London Paralympic Games.
The selected team comprises:
- Sophie Christiansen (Grade Ia) riding her own Janeiro 6
- Anne Dunham (Grade Ia) riding the Lady Joseph Trust’s LJT Lucas Normark
- Ricky Balshaw (Grade Ib) riding the Lady Joseph Trust’s LJT Engaards Solitaire
- Natasha Baker (Grade II) riding Mr & Mrs P Baker and Mr C Landolt’s Cabral
- Sophie Wells (Grade IV) riding her own Valerius
World Class Performance Manager for Para-Equestrian Dressage, David Hunter, commented; “The riders selected for this year’s European Championships are once again a very strong combination, covering experience and newcomers. Selection is never a straightforward process and I’m very grateful to the Selectors. My congratulations go to those going to Denmark and commiserations to those staying behind. On a personal note, I’m thoroughly looking forward to the Europeans and it will be an honour to lead such a strong bunch of riders and critical support staff. It will be a huge positive being a combined championships alongside able bodied dressage and showjumping.”
Will Connell, Equestrian Performance Director commented; “It’s fantastic that we have members of last year’s successful British team representing Great Britain again, this time on the European stage, and it’s great to see Ricky and Anne back on the squad. The funding we receive from the Lottery and Exchequer through UK Sport greatly aids our preparation for major Championships; Herning is a case in point as it is a long journey and the funding will mean we can put everything possible in place to ensure the horses and athletes arrive in peak condition.”
Commenting on their selection;
Sophie Christiansen: “After last year it’s such an honour to be on the team again representing Great Britain. I think we have a really strong team again this year, and it’s great to have Anne back on the team, so in Grade Ia we can really push each other. It’ll feel a lot like it did at the World Equestrian Games in 2010, being alongside dressage and jumping and will be great to be able to cheer them on. I’m just really looking forward to it!”
Anne Dunham: “It’s fantastic; I’m absolutely over the moon. It’ll be the first Championships that Lucas has competed at for GB, he really deserves it and it’s great that he’ll be competing on home soil [Danish born]. I’m really pleased that the Championships are fully integrated, I think it will make it a really great event and I’m looking forward to it enormously.”
Ricky Balshaw: “To be honest, it’s just fantastic news! It’s been a tough few years for me but to find a new horse and be selected within seven months together is amazing. I obviously can’t thank the Lady Joseph Trust enough for finding the horse and I have to say, he’s the best I’ve ever sat on. I also have to say thanks to my support crew and loyal sponsors who’ve stuck by me. Now it’s down to me to make them all proud in the coming weeks.”
Natasha Baker: “I’m really pleased, JP was a star at both Hartpury and Hickstead, and I’m really pleased with how he’s going. He had a fantastic Hickstead and he’s just getting better and better, with our warm-up at Hartpury probably being our best ever. I think it’s fantastic that the Championships are combined this year, there’s still so much excitement from last year’s Games and I hope people will enjoy this year’s competition”.
Sophie Wells: “He [Reece] feels really ready for the Europeans, I’m so pleased; he feels like he’s come into his own. I think that the Inter I at Hickstead really gave us the opportunity to push him at that level and I’m excited for both of us. I think it’s great that the dressage Europeans are on at the same time out in Herning and am really excited to be able to gain as much experience as possible and soak it all up!”
All five riders are on the World Class Programme, which is generously supported by Lottery and Exchequer funding via UK Sport. The Programme incorporates both the Development and Performance Programmes and the Equine Pathway, and works closely with the three British Equestrian Federation Olympic Member Bodies, British Dressage, British Eventing and British Showjumping.
All selected riders will contest the individual and freestyle medal events in their respective grades. In addition the four riders to compete in the team will be named on event. The best three scores from the team and individual tests combined will count towards the team total. As with dressage, the horses and riders complete a set of movements in an arena, either 40x20m or 60x20m - depending on the grade. Each rider is classified within a specific grade, depending on the severity of their disability, Ia being the most severely disabled.
The British para-equestrian dressage team are the current holders of the European, World and Paralympic team title.