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Australia’s top Para-Equestrian riders were put through their paces at the fourth and final Para-Equestrian nomination event in Sydney this weekend.
With a position on the four member Paralympic Games team on the line, riders were in top form with many recording personal bests in an effort to impress selectors.
Held over three days, the competition saw riders from each of the five grades perform the Team Test on Friday, The Individual Championship Test on Saturday and the Freestyle Test on Sunday.
“Everyone has competed extremely well and we’ve seen some very high scores which is fantastic,” said National Performance Director for Para-Equestrian, Julia Battams.
“As far as standard of performance goes, this is probably the highest we’ve seen at all four nomination events. The level of performance has really been increasing along the way and this weekend’s results show this.”
Elite Squad riders Grace Bowman (Grade 2) and Hannah Dodd (Grade 4) dominated their grades taking first place in all three tests. 21 year old Bowman is aiming to make her second Paralympic Games team while 20 year old Dodd is on track to make her first.
In Grade 1A, first time Paralympic Games hopeful Rob Oakley finished just in front of two time Paralympian Jan Pike to finish first in the Team, Individual and Freestyle tests.
Also searching for her first Games start is Joann Formosa (Grade 1B) who performed consistently across the weekend to also finish first in all three tests.
Competition was close between Grade 3 riders Sharon Jarvis and Chelsea Higgins who were equal first in the Team Test. Jarvis nudged out Higgins in the Individual and Freestyle Test but is competing on a new horse named Michar and is ineligible for selection to the Paralympic Games team (read the full story here).
At the end of the nine month selection process selectors are confident of fielding a highly competitive team to compete in London.
“The World Equestrian Games was the last major international competition that our team contested and we’re hoping to improve upon the tenth place that we achieved there and it’s our goal for a top five finish at London,” said Battams.
Australia’s current Paralympic Games medal haul stands at two gold, one silver and five bronze.
Australia’s four member Paralympic Games team will be publicly announced in mid-June.
By: Michelle Cook/EA