Suite of silvers on second individual day at the FEI Para Dressage World Championships

  • Written By: British Dressage | Camille Peters
  • Published: Fri, 12 Aug 2022 09:08

The stars burned brightly on day two of the individual competition at the FEI Para Dressage World Championships with Natasha Baker and Sophie Wells both earning stellar silver medals, whilst two hotly tipped favourites showed their magnitude for gold. 

Grade III: Natasha Baker back to best despite setbacks

An unsettled preparation wouldn't hinder Britain's Natasha Baker, who despite having six weeks off riding and only being back in the saddle for a fortnight, rode to a superb individual silver in the grade III medal competition. Some people are born to shine on the world's stage, and Natasha truly is one of those riders, bringing her a-game to Herning and defying the challenges presented to date in her 2022 season. 

With her parents Phill and Lorraine Baker, Christian Landolt and Joanna Jensen's Keystone Dawn Chorus (by Dimaggio), Natasha presented a powerful, punchy test with the charming 'Lottie' buzzing in the electric BB Horse Arena atmosphere. Despite the 11 year old mare being well on her expressive toes, the ride was full of class, raking in the marks win trot with expressive, uphill work and a beautiful open frame. Natasha's beaming smile said it all about the feeling her wonder mare gave during the test, and their performance was enough to deliver 73.970% - to repeat her silver medal from last year's re-scheduled Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

“Glamourdale and Lottie [Keystone Dawn Chorus] must have been chatting in the stables and she wanted to take off like a rocket ship like him," Natasha said after her test, "I think that is the quickest test I have ever done in my entire life! Literally, I was hanging on for grim death – she wasn’t fazed by the atmosphere at all, that did not bother her. That’s obviously the biggest atmosphere she’s been in because in Tokyo we had no audience and it was a lot closer here, but that did not seem to bother her – she was on a mission!”

Plus, I’m so unfit right now and I think that’s probably why, because normally if she’s a bit like that I can just get her together. From having six weeks off, I’ve only been back in the saddle for two weeks before I came here. I had a chest infection, was on two lots of antibiotics, and then I had a urine infection for a week, so I was on three lots of antibiotics! I haven’t had ideal preparation for this competition by any means. I thought when I got back from my honeymoon, that’s fine I’ve got three months to get really fit, really good, ready for this, but then for that to be halved because I was so poorly wasn’t great, but I’m just so happy with the way that she dealt with everything in there, I just need to find the brakes before Saturday!"

Denmark’s Tobias Thorning Joergensen and Jolene Hill came to Herning hotly tipped for gold and the form went to entirely to plan with the Danish-bred grey mare and her skilled rider scoring 78.676% to claim the top step of the podium, also repeating their results from Tokyo 2020 and claiming a fifth consecutive championship gold. Natasha and Lottie will look forward to putting their best hoof forward for the team on Saturday with the bigger picture, and Paris 2024, also in mind: "She’s just such an amazing horse, she’s so lovely,” gushed Natasha. “This is only the second time she’s been abroad, it’s her first time in an arena like this, with an atmosphere, with an audience, and each time we learn more and more about each other, and grow in confidence, and it’s all progressing towards Paris. That’s obviously the end goal and this is just another step in the right direction for that.”

Grade V: Sophie Wells shows skill for second silver of the day

With Denmark subject to similar scorching conditions as we're experience on our own doorstep, Sophie Wells handled the heat as brilliantly as ever with the competitive Grade V Individual competition just as hot as the August sun. With Rowland Kinch's Don Cara M, Sophie gave her Tokyo 2020 dancing partner a magnificent ride for 75.279%. The thirteen year old gelding has energy and scope to burn, which showed in the test with nines rewarded for plenty of the highlights. A small mistake in a transition to canter would be the only notable blip in an otherwise outstanding performance. After exceeding all expectations in Tokyo last year, it's a joy to see this well-suited combination to continue on their journey together with fantastic scores and medals the reward for the work behind the scenes. 

Belgium's Michele George set the grade V standard early - an impressive 76.419% with Best of 8 - and an incredibly close battle at the end of the class would see the top three separated by just over one percent with Frank Hosmar and Alphaville NOP riding to 75.256% for the Netherlands, a superb score but not one that would take away Sophie's silver. 

“He felt a bit nervous as I went in, it’s a bit of a weird atmosphere in there - it’s a bit quiet but there’s a bit of a buzz. I was pleased with the trot work," Sophie reviewed, "I had to be a bit careful because I wasn’t on full power, but he felt really good. I didn’t see the mistake coming in the walk to canter, but he kind of does that when he’s a bit nervous, he did it in Tokyo. So, it is what it is, but then he came back to me, and it was fine. The canter work was good.

“There was lots of stuff I was really pleased with in there. Although it’s his second championship, Tokyo was really weird. I didn’t know him as well, but also I haven’t been up against anyone else so I don’t know where we’re at, so it’s really nice to have got the first one in the bag. Just waiting until the last one is really hard!”

Sophie will also prepare for her team routine on Saturday, with the grade II team test coming up later today. "There’s so much more in the tank, I’m still at the point where I can’t ask for 70% of what he’s got, but it’s still enough," she explained about her talented but sensitive ride, "I came here and it’s such a different mindset to with Jorge [C Fatal Attraction] because with him I was like ‘I’m absolutely going to go and have it’. But with Don, because he’s such a different personality, I want to go in and just show him off to the best of his ability and what I can get out of him during the show is amazing.” 


Grade III
Orifarm Healthcare FEI World Para Dressage Individual Championship presented by Elsass Fonden

1. Tobias Thorning Joergensen with Jolene Hill, 78.676 % (DEN)
2. Natasha Baker with Keystone Dawn Chorus, 73.970% (GBR)
3. Rebecca Hart with El Corona Texel, 73.147% (USA)

Grade V
Orifarm Healthcare FEI World Para Dressage Individual Championship presented by Elsass Fonden

1. Michèle George with Best of 8, 76.419% (BEL)
2. Sophie Wells with Don Cara M, 75.279% (GBR)
3. Frank Hosmar with Alphaville N.O.P, 75.256% (NED)


Photo © Kevin Sparrow