Sophie Wells' top horse makes winning comeback

Read our round-up from three days of the Agria-sponsored para-dressage international classes

Sophie Wells & Ljt Egebjerggards Samoa C Spidge (2)

Grade V rider Sophie Wells secured a treble of wins at the I.C.E. Horseboxes All England Dressage Festival at Hickstead.

Riding her experienced Tokyo Paralympic medallist Don Cara M, Sophie picked up a win in Friday’s Agria 3* CPEDI Freestyle class with a score of 75.500%. She also headed both the Grand Prix A and B Team Tests with the eight-year-old mare Ljt Egebjerggards Samoa (Diana).

“It’s brilliant to be back at Hickstead – it’s a prestigious venue that we love coming to, and we’ve had a really good week,” said Sophie, 34.

The show marked the competitive return of Don Cara M. “He had an injury last year in July, so he's been out of it a little bit. He found it very exciting to be back at a show so he didn't produce his best work here, but it was a good start for us to build on,” she added. “Diana, my younger mare, she showed some really good work, and I think now I need to be a little bit braver and start to ask a bit more from her.”

Georgia Wilson also impressed with her two rides, winning the Grade II Grand Prix A with Faside Got The Love and finishing runner up with Sakura; then reversing the placings in the Grand Prix B. She then completed a successful week with Freestyle victory on Sakura, scoring 76.767%. “I seem to have good luck here so I’ll keep coming back!” she said afterwards. “I’m aiming for Paris but I’ve got three more internationals to come and I just want to keep getting my percentages a bit higher.”

In the Grade III tests, Natasha Baker and Keystone Dawn Chorus were on dominant form all week, adding the Freestyle title to complete their run of three wins. Riding to a new Freestyle soundtrack featuring Shania Twain and Cher, the pair scored 76.656%.

Grade 1 rider Mari Durward-Akhurst and Athene Lindebjerg produced some impressive scores throughout the week, ending with a win in the Freestyle with 79.287%. She is hoping for selection for Paris, which would be her first Paralympic Games. “I’ve scored three personal bests this week – it’s been pretty surreal to get those scores, so it will take a while to sink in,” said Mari, who has Cerebral Palsy.

Nicola Naylor and Humberto also had a clean sweep across the three tests in the Grade IV. They completed their hat trick in Thursday’s Freestyle, scoring 74.550% to take the win.

The I.C.E. Horseboxes All England Dressage Festival takes place at Hickstead (7-12 May) with free admission and parking for spectators. Watch the livestream on Horse & Country TV. For reports from our shows, sign up to our newsletter here.

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