Dutch stars Sanne Voets and Rixt van der Horst both made it triple Gold in a memorable closing session of Adequan® Para-Dressage at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 on Saturday to conclude competition.
Having won their respective individual championship titles and helped the Netherlands end Great Britain’s reign as World Champions, they each signed off by claiming Freestyle Gold medals and completing a perfect set.
Voets launched another successful day at Tryon Stadium for the Dutch in Grade IV, edging out Brazil’s Rodolpho Rixalla with a score of 79.645% on Demantur N.O.P, to take top spot, and in doing so she became the first non-British rider to win three Gold medals at one Paralympic, World or European event. American Kate Shoemaker and Solitaer took Bronze.
“It is so amazing,” a tearful Voets said. “It was my dream, and now it is real. This horse two years ago won the first ever Paralympic gold medal for the Netherlands and he contributed very much to our first ever Team Gold medal on Friday, and now he is the first one taking home triple gold for the Netherlands in the World Games.”
Van der Horst, riding Findsley, followed suit in Grade III, but there was a dramatic twist as her main rival – Great Britain’s Natasha Baker – fell from her horse Mount St John Diva Dannebrog early in her test and was eliminated. The United States’ Rebecca Hart took second place, while Germany’s Dr, Angelika Trabert was third.
“To win three medals is amazing,” said van der Horst, who successfully defended her Individual and Freestyle titles from the 2014 WEG. “It really is something else. I have no words, really.”
Baker was unhurt in the fall, and she said, “I absolutely have no idea what happened. It was so out of character for her. She is an angel. We walked in and the crowd were massively cheering for Rixt after her test, which was great for her, but that set Diva off in the tunnel. I have watched the video back and it’s hilarious! I am fine. My ego is bruised and my backside probably is as well. At least I hit the center line when I landed!”
There was an emotional Grade I victory for Italy’s Sara Morganti, who added Freestyle Gold to the Individual title she won earlier in the week, just two years after being eliminated from the Rio Paralympics when her horse Royal Delight failed the first horse inspection.
Morganti saw off the challenge of Latvia’s Rihards Snikus and Lord Of The Dance by almost three percent, and there was another Bronze medal for the United States—their third in Para-Dressage at Tryon, before Hart’s silver made it four in total—as Roxanne Trunnell completed the podium after a fine ride on Dolton.
“It’s incredible and so emotional that I can’t describe it,” Morganti said. “I think it puts Rio in the past now. I needed to come out with my horse again and show how good she is.”
Grade II also produced a golden double for Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup, as she enjoyed a clear victory on Horsebo Smarties from Austrian Pepo Puch, while the Bronze medal went to the Netherlands’ Nicole den Dulk.
“I gave it all I got in there,” Kaastrup said. “I had no more left in me. I think we have gone to another level in terms of the partnership with my horse. I knew I had a really good horse and I know I am a decent rider, but to do all the work together really takes time. Coming here, we have found a new level.”
Britain’s Sophie Wells also secured a double Gold performance by adding Grade V Freestyle success to her individual triumph on C Fatal Attraction, which more than compensated for the two Silver medals she won at the 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games™.
Wells posted an outstanding score of 80.755%, with the Netherlands’ Frank Hosmar and Alphaville N.O.P. taking second on 79.155%, and there was a first Para-Dressage medal for Japan as Tomoko Nakamura, riding Djazz F, took Bronze.
Wells said, “My horse has given me everything, with Thursday (Team Test) being the highlight for me. I am so proud of him. The standard of the riding here, the horses, the training is amazing for the sport. It makes you proud to be part of it, but you literally have to fight every second. We all have the same dream, but only one person can win.”