Great Britain will once again be the team to beat when Adequan® Para-Dressage begins at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 on Tuesday.
And British talisman Sir Lee Pearson will break a WEG record if he adds to his medal collection during a packed Para-Dressage program that sees more than 60 competitors from 23 countries lining up.
Pearson is currently tied with fellow Briton Sophie Christiansen and Germany’s Hannelore Brenner on a record six WEG medals – all of them Gold, in his case, and he will be backed to move ahead with Team, Individual and Freestyle titles at stake during five days of competition in Tryon Stadium.
He will be joined in Tryon by London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic colleagues Natasha Baker and Sophie Wells, with WEG debutant Erin Orford completing the quartet.
Pearson, Baker and Wells all helped Britain to 2014 World Championship title glory in France, and the British team remain unbeaten at the World, European and Paralympic level.
Adequan® Para-Dressage competition begins tomorrow, September 18, and continues through Saturday, September 22 in Tryon Stadium.
“Having had a quiet year last year and coming back and being selected, I am just thrilled and honored,” Pearson said. “It’s amazing to be on a home-bred horse and definitely more special, but it does add to the nerves as well.”
Baker, meanwhile, will be aboard new ride Mount St John Diva Dannebrog and she added, “She is the perfect horse for me. I knew it the first time I rode her she was perfect. It was love at first ride. It will only be her second time abroad with me, and it will be my first time competing in America, but I am just going to go out there and enjoy it and do my best.”
Para-Dressage is conducted under the same basic rules as classical Dressage, but with riders divided into different competition grades based on functional abilities.
Athletes are required to perform specific tests dependent on their classification, which encompass different levels of movements, similarly to classical Dressage. Tests will include movements at the walk, trot and canter, some at just the walk and trot, while others are judged at the walk.
Many experienced and medal-decorated riders feature among the WEG nominated entries, including Austrian Pepo Puch, Belgium’s Michele George, Italian Sara Morganti and the Dutch pair of Sanne Voets and Rixt van der Horst, who were all world medalists in 2014.