|Great Britain’s Natasha Baker turned in the top-scoring ride for Grade II on the rainy, windy first day of Paralympic equestrian competition. Photo: Liz Gregg/FEI|
The Equestrian events of the London 2012 Paralympic Games got off to a partly wet and windy start for Grades II and Ib in the team test today, but little could dampen the spirits of the riders and their teams as they began their Paralympic journey. There was a genuine buzz about Greenwich Park and British riders did not disappoint the enthusiastic crowds as they battled with the elements, taking pole position in both Grades.
Great Britain’s Natasha Baker performed a magnificent test riding Cabral to take the top spot in Grade II. She is not part of the team, but will definitely be one to watch in the individual medals, especially given her comfortable lead on Germany’s Britta Napel in second place. Britta Napel won Individual Championship gold in 2008 as well as team silver, so it’s a promising result for the German team and places her amongst the favorites for the individual medals. Third place in the Grade II team test went to Lauren Barwick, reigning Paralympic Freestyle champion, providing Canada with some valuable points and a good test run before the Individual Championship test gets underway.
Demonstrating the true champion that he is, Lee Pearson and the wonderful Gentleman took pole position in the Grade Ib team test in the pouring rain this afternoon, giving Great Britain its first team points. Pearson has a chance to become the most successful British Paralympian (across all sports) of all time. He currently has nine medals, so to earn that distinction would entail winning the three available to him (Individual Championship, Freestyle and Team). However, there is some sturdy competition in Grade Ib, with former international Event rider Pepo Puch from Austria close on his heels, coming in second place today. Third on the Grade Ib Team test scoreboard is Joann Formosa riding Worldwide PB, a fairly new rider to the international scene and representing Australia for the first time at a major event.
Grades Ia, III and IV will have their Team tests on Friday which will give a provisional team score made up of the best three scores per country prior to the Individual Championship test – where the best three team scores are also added to make the final mark.
Start and results can be found at London2012.com.
See all 2012 Olympic and Paralympic equestrian news at HorseChannel.com/Olympics.