Canadian Para-Equestrian riders Lauren Barwick, Eleonore Elstone and Ashley Gowanlock won not only the team competition, which moved Canada into fourth place in the world, but were also victorious in eight of nine classes, posting scores that were all 70% or higher, in their stellar appearance at CPEDI 3* Arruda dos Vinhos in Portugal, held December 24, 2011.
Using the combined scores from the Team test and Individual test, Canadian team members were victorious with a total of 427.589%. Norway placed second with 408.99%, while the host nation Portugal finished third with 401.614%. Rounding out the top four, with 387.251%, was the team from Spain.
Canada's individual gold and silver medalist from the 2008 Paralympic Games, Barwick of Aldergrove, BC, rode Equine Canada's nine-year-old Oldenburg mare, Off to Paris, to victories in all three of her Grade II classes. In the Team Test, Barwick and Off to Paris earned a score of 71.952%. For the Individual test they received 70.952%, and they won their Freestyle, scoring almost 7% higher than her nearest competitor, with 76.550%.
"It's an incredible feeling being able to come together as a team and share in one another's success," said Barwick. "This is what it's all about. My mares traveled well and I was extremely pleased with how they performed, they have both improved since our European tour in July."
Riding Lauren Barwick's nine-year-old Oldenburg mare, Ferdonia 2, Gowanlock, of Surrey, BC, finished in second place in the Grade 1b Team Test with 70.000%. The pair then went on to win the Individual test with a score of 73.696% and the Freestyle with 76.900%, which was the top score awarded for the entire CPEDI 3* competition.
"The Team came to Portugal with a job to do and we definitely got the job done," said Gowanlock. "We wouldn't have been successful without the solid coaching from Andrea Taylor, all of the behind the scenes work from the grooms and support staff, and the organization of our chef d'équipe, Elizabeth. I am beyond grateful to Lauren Barwick for allowing me to borrow Ferdonia 2, and am excited to see where the partnership goes from here."
Langley, BC, native Elstone also won all three tests in Grade IV aboard Zareno, a seven-year-old Dutch Warmblood owned by Elisabeth Posmus-Penterman. In their first competition together, Elstone received 70.344 % in the Team test, 70.645% for her ride in the Individual test and 72.150% in the Freestyle.
"The results for our team in Portugal are outstanding," said chef d'équipe Elizabeth Quigg-Robinson. "Initially, we were faced with major challenges; a very long journey complicated when the horses were delayed by mechanical failure of the aircraft, riders caught in the disruptions of Portugal's general strike, and lost baggage. Then the tide turned as the three riders won team gold, took first place in eight out of nine classes, and achieved a number of personal bests in international competition.
"A strong international judging panel gave us a clear indication that we can expect to be very competitive at the 2012 Paralympic games in London," added Quigg-Robinson.
Chef d'équipe Quigg-Robinson, team coach Andrea Taylor, stable manager Alice Beatty, and support staff Lauren Massey will accompany and provide support to the Canadian para-equestrian riders for the duration of the competition in Portugal.
"We are immensely proud of all our team members," said Akaash Maharaj, CEO of Equine Canada and the Canadian Equestrian Team. "This would have been a stellar performance under any circumstances, but it was the act of true champions to deliver such strong results when the stakes were so high. They have not only placed us firmly in contention as a qualifying nation for the 2012 Paralympic Games; they have put the world on notice that Canada will be riding for the Gold medal in London."
For complete results from CPEDI 3* Arruda dos Vinhos, please visit www.academiadressageportugal.com.
Chef d'équipe Quigg-Robinson, team coach Andrea Taylor, stable manager Alice Beatty, and support staff Lauren Massey provided support to the Canadian para-equestrian riders for the duration of the competition in Portugal.
This tour was made possible through the Own the Podium program, a national sport technical initiative designed to help Canada's summer and winter athletes achieve podium success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Rider / Horse Team Test Individual Test Freestyle Test
Lauren Barwick / Paris (owned by Equine Canada) 71.952% 70.952% 76.550%
Ashley Gowanlock / Ferdonia 2 (owned by Lauren Barwick) 70.000% 73.696% 76.900%
Eleonore Elstone / Zareno (Elisabeth Posmus-Penterman) 70.344 % 70.645% 72.150%
About Para-Equestrian Canada
Para-Equestrian Canada is the Equine Canada committee responsible for developing programs for athletes with a physical disability, and implementing the Para-Dressage high performance program. Para-Equestrian is one of Canada's most successful international disciplines, achieving an individual gold medal and an individual silver medal at the 2008 Paralympic Games, as well as two individual bronze medals at the 2004 Paralympic Games.
About Para-Equestrian Sport
Para-Equestrian sport provides riders with a physical disability the opportunity to compete against other riders with similar abilities. Riders are given a "Grade" based on their functional ability, and are judged on their riding skill against other athletes of the same Grade. There are five grades of competitions in dressage, with Grade IA representing the more severely impaired riders, and Grade IV representing the least severely impaired riders. Many Para-Equestrian athletes also compete alongside able-bodied competitors in Equine Canada competitions. At the grass roots level, Para-Equestrian encompasses a number of different disciplines, while the international stream focuses only on Para-Dressage. For more information, please visit www.equinecanada.ca/para-equestrian.
About Equine Canada
Equine Canada is Canada's national governing body for equestrianism. A member-driven, charitable institution, it is the executive branch of the Canadian Equestrian Team, and the national authority for equestrian competition; the national voice for recreational riders; and the national association for equine welfare, breeding, and industry. Equine Canada is recognized by the Government of Canada, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), and the Canadian Olympic Committee as the national organization representing equestrian sport and equine interests.