Tryon 2018: Netherlands' team triumph
Tryon 2018: Netherlandsâ team triumph 22.09.2018
British overthrown in event for first time during thrilling two daysThe Netherlands' Para equestrian team celebrate a historic result at the 2018 World Equestrian Games Â© â¢ FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst By Rob Howell for th IPC
The Netherlands turned the established order of international Para dressage on its head over the last two days (20-21 September) by winning the team competition at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, USA.
In doing so, the Dutch not only secured the first team spot at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games (the top three qualify), they also knocked Great Britain off the top of the podium for the first time at European, Worlds and Paralympics.
At a champagne celebration, Dutch Chef dâequipe Joyce Heuitink said: âItâs been a dream since I started this job six years ago after London 2012 and the gap with Great Britain was so big. But every year, the gap seemed to be getting closer, so we kept working hard and just worked on everything that we can.
"Riding here is such a big deal and being here as a team and actually doing it, thatâs something else â" w anting it and doing it"
âAnd then you happen to have four amazing riders that do four amazing tests â" and Great Britain also did a great job and it was very close. But we were so nervous and thought âWhat if they beat us by just one per cent?â And then the score came out and my team manager went straight to the general store to get champagne. Iâve been full of tears for the last two days and Iâm afraid I will break into tears when I stand on the podium.â
The Dutch team â" grade IIâs Nicole den Dulk, grade IIIâs Rixt van der Horst, grade IVâs Sanne Voets and grade Vâs Frank Hosmar - clinched the championship with a total score of 223.597 per cent.
Van der Horst, on Findsley, scored 73.559 per cent to start things off.
That initially left the door slightly open for Great Britain to catch up, and would have needed scores of 73 plus from both Natasha Baker and Er in Orford to defend their title.
Of the pair, Baker rode first and was the highest scorer in the grade, with a personal best 74.118 per cent on Mount St John Diva Dannebrog. Orford, competing at her first global championships on Dior, then scored 69.029 per cent. In the end, the gap between the two countries was just 0.622 of a percentage point.
With the top two spots decided earlier in the first session of the day, the afternoonâs grade I contest turned into a battle royal between Germany and Denmark for bronze, and the final qualifying spot for Tokyo 2020.
Denmarkâs Line Munk Madsen was up first, on Hoennerups Beebob, and scored 73.179 per cent. That left Germanyâs individual bronze medal winning Elke Philipp a target of 73.208 per cent. Riding Fuerst Sinclair, Philipp surpassed that mark, scoring 74.375 to secure her country a Tokyo 2020 slot.
Britishâs best not enough
The Netherlands won the two-day team competition despite Great Britainâ s Sophie Wells giving her team the best possible start in the first test of day one, the grade V.
Riding C Fatal Attraction and first into the arena, Wells scored a personal best of 77.233 per cent, a fraction off the world record.
âYou learn to deal with the pressure and I just focussed on what I needed to do,â Wells said. âWe want to retain our title but we can only do the best that we can do.
âI knew I needed to up my game from the other day for the team. I had a look at my test with my coaches and looked at different areas.â
Voets, however, then kept the pressure up in the grade IV test riding Demantur N.O.P to a massive personal best of 76.550 per cent.
Some 14 countries competed in the team contest, each with three or four across the five Para dressage grades. The top three scores from each team then combined to determine the overall winner.
By winning the competition, Hosmar and Dulk picked up their first Worlds titles.
âWe worked hard for it and finally we beat the British,â Hosmar said. âEvery year we were closer and closer and closer and then, today, we beat them.â
âFirst gold, thatâs amazing,â added den Dulk. âWe really rode as a team and there are no words for it yet. Riding here is such a big deal and being here as a team and actually doing it, thatâs something else â" wanting it and doing it.
âWe rode our hearts out and the judges saw that today and yesterday â" happy horses and happy athletes.â
The 2018 World Equestrian Games concludes Saturday (22 September) as the top eight riders and their horses in each of the five grades dance it out for freestyle titles.
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