Baker Crowned British Para Champion for First Time

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July 01, 2015 14:55

Natasha Baker became 2015 British Para Dressage Champion for the first time at Dressage at Hickstead with her Rio prospect Sookie St James. She clinched the title *please note that all prices are in us dollars. buy prozac with confidence. buy prozac online (fluoxetine- generic alternative). check prozac prices prozac after winning the freestyle with an impressive 76.13% using brand-new Hollywood-themed music, having won both Grade II individual and team tests.

Natasha, who has ridden the now seven-year-old for two years since best friend/big brother Christian Landolt bought the Oldenburg mare for her, said: “After competing in Belgium, where the judges didn’t like my floorplan or music, I decided to leave it to the expert. I only received the CD from Tom Hunt two days before and had ridden through it a total of three times.”

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The result, which was a fraction short of her personal best with Sooki, was particularly pleasing for Natasha as she hopes to use the music in Rio.
“It is good to get it established and this was a great start,” said Natasha, who describes the mare as being completely transformed from when she arrived “small and leggy”.
“I love her to pieces. She was tired in the freestyle, having competed in the individual test just one hour before, but she always stays with me whatever and I am so proud of her.”
Grade IV rider Sophie Wells withdrew from the freestyle final despite having qualified, but it was a feat that she was competing at all.
Sophie, who managed to repeat last year’s first and second placings in the individual and team tests with Valerius and C Fatal Attraction, said: “I had a bad fall three weeks ago and couldn’t ride for a whole week – that’s something that’s never happened to me before – so I took the minimum number of horses I could. It wasn’t the best preparation for a selection trial for either the horses or myself. I’ve had the best help to get back into the saddle thanks to the World Class support team and was heavily strapped.
“I had a bit of a blip the first day when Valerius shot across the arena after someone popped out of the hedge next to us wearing a white shirt. It was not what I needed; I was in a lot of pain already and then lost track of where I was,” said Sophie, who was proud that the eight-year-old C Fatal Attaction scored a national PB in the team test and beat Valerius for the first time.
It’s been a challenging time for the winner of these championships for the previous three years, Grade Ia rider Sophie Christiansen, who has had to adjust to a new trainer and horse.
She finished fifth in the freestyle final with her new partner, Athene Lindebjerg, having won both team and individual tests with the eight-year-old mare as well as finishing second in both with her usual, hugely successful partner, Janeiro 6.
It’s a remarkable achievement considering this new combination have only been together since March, had competed at three shows prior to this championship and the fact that Sophie has had to adjust to a new trainer after her 15-year “marriage” to Clive Milkins ended last year as he moved on to train the Hong Kong para-equestrian team.
Sophie, who works for Goldman Sachs, said: “The Assoulines found her in Denmark a year and a half ago. Their headgirl Jess Thompson rode her until recently as she needed basic training and competition experience and they won the National Elementary Championships last summer. She is a complete star and takes everything in her stride.

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“I also found a new trainer in Lindsay Coleridge-Smith. I couldn’t wish for anyone better. She has thrown herself into the world of para dressage; you need to be more than just a trainer when you are coaching para riders. She has been amazing and I credit her with my continued success.
“Getting qualified for Hickstead was difficult. It’s all come together just in time, although things are by no means perfect yet. We have got to the stage where we trust each other. Now we will build on that. It was the first time she beat Rio, which was both exciting and heart-breaking at the same time. This period of transition has been really tough, but you have to go through these phases. I learnt so much from Clive. That experience has helped a lot and this mare has got to grips with the walk only test, so I have a lot to thank her for.”

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Having won both Grade II tests, Nicky Greenhill rode the 11-year-old Gregorian Chant in her first Hickstead freestyle final to finish third overall.
Shortlisted for London 2012 and reserves for the World Championships last year, Nicky is pulling out all the stops to get back onto the World Class programme: “I’ve had seconditis for a long time, but it’s my turn now. Everything is in place. We have scrimped and saved to keep Gregory, which we have financed through my husband Gary’s wages, but Hartpury International next week will be crunch time. We either have to sell him or find funding. I would be gutted to sell him having spent so long working to get him where I want him.”
Trained by Zoe Colgate for the past two years, Nicky has recently managed to have training with Charlotte Dujardin: “It has made all the difference. With Zoe I work on the basics and test riding, while Charlotte pushes me to aim for perfection. The hardest thing about not seeing is that you don’t know where the horses neck is, whether it is bent or on the bit. You have to believe what you feel is right, but there is lot of room for error.”

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After a few difficult years having been at the top of the sport for 17 years, including not being selected for the team in 2013, Lee Pearson continued the form he showed at the World Games last year by winning his Grade Ib tests by substantial margins with Zion and finishing second in the final.
Lee has ridden the now 11-year-old 17hh Zion since he was six and their partnership is a confident one, completely unaffected by the fact that Lee has not been around much: “I’ve been away a lot filming for a series for ITV1 called Flock Stars which starts in July, so my neighbours have been hacking him and I’ve only taken him into the arena for dressage schooling once a week.”
Lee was just as excited about the performance of his home-bred six-year-old mare Styletta, who finished fourth in both tests.
“She is 100 per cent athlete and probably the most talented horse I’ve ridden, certainly on a par with Blue Circle Boy.  Her extensions will rival Valegro’s,” he said jokingly.
A record number of 39 para competitors competed at the event. Next week the paras are off to Hartpury for their final selection trials for the Europeans in September.
2015 Champions
Individual and team test winners
Grade IV – Sophie Wells with C Fatal Attraction (team) Valerius (indiv)
Grade III – Nicky Greenhill with Gregorian Chant
Grade II – Natasha Baker with Sookie St James
Grade Ib – Lee Pearson with Zion
Grade Ia – Sophie Christiansen with Athene Lindebjerg
Overall champions – Natasha Baker with Sookie St James
For the full results, please visit the Dressage at Hickstead website.

 

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