Golden triumph for Britain in Kentucky
After 16 days of top class competition, the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky came to a conclusion on Sunday night, and the remarkable performance of British riders put Team GBR at the top of the medals table.
Britain won a total of nine gold medals, plus seven silver and three bronze, with particular success in the Eventing and Para-Dressage.
The British Eventing team – made up of William Fox-Pitt, Tina Cook, Mary King and Nicola Wilson – claimed team gold in the Eventing World Championships, a feat they last performed in 1994. They posted a winning team score of 139.4, with Fox-Pitt and Cool Mountain also taking individual silver with their final score of 42.0.
The two individual British riders, both with Norfolk connections, also went well. Pippa Funnell left college aged 16 to ride horses with the celebrated Norfolk-based trainer Ruth McMullan, and at the World Equestrian Games jumped clear to end on her dressage score of 45.5 and finish fifth with her horse Redesigned. Meanwhile, Norfolk-born Piggy French had just one jump down in the showjumping phase on Jakata to finish on 51.4 in 16th position.
The British Eventing team's successes bode well for the London 2012 Olympics, for which Norfolk's Alec Lochore has been appointed eventing manager.
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Elsewhere on the Kentucky Horse Park, Great Britain moved into the history books as the very first Para-Dressage team to receive gold in World Equestrian Games history. The 2010 Games marked the first to include Para-Dressage in the competition, and the British team swept up a grand total of 13 medals (seven gold) across the team, individual and freestyle contests.
Lee Pearson scored a gold medal hat-trick aboard Gentleman, winning the Grade 1b individual and freestyle competitions as well as contributing to Para-Dressage team gold.
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Sophie Christiansen (1a) and Sophie Wells (IV) also took individual gold in their respective grades, while in the freestyle, Sophie Wells on Pinocchio took Grade IV gold, and in Grade 1a, Emma Sheardown on Purdy's Dream took gold, Sophie Christiansen on Rivaldo Of Berkeley claimed the silver medal, and Anne Dunham on Teddy took the bronze.
Norfolk played its part in the team's success by hosting them prior to their trip to Kentucky. The Para-Dressage team made use of the high-class facilities at Easton College as a practice venue, under the guidance of their Norfolk-based chef d'equipe David Hunter – also clerk of Fakenham Racecourse.
Other successes included gold for Joanne Eccles in the female individual division of the Vaulting competition and three silver medals in the Dressage.