First Kiwi About to Go at WEG
GEN DROP AND WEB
Paralympian Anthea Dixon starts the New Zealand charge at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games on Tuesday afternoon (France time) in France.
The 32-year-old from Canterbury rides Doncartier (owned by Australian Bella Robson) in the grade two para-dressage discipline where hopes are high she could make the podium – if everything goes just right.
It is the first time New Zealand has had a para-dressage competitor at WEG. This year the discipline has attracted record numbers, with around 100 riders from 33 nations vying for medals across the grades.
Dixon says Doncartier has most definitely “brought his A game” to WEG and she knows to achieve personal bests, it will come down to the finer details.
“I will be paying attention to all the little details,” she said. “He feels a million bucks, and that's the most important thing.”
While the competition is rich, with the gold and bronze medallists from the London Olympics both at WEG, Dixon says she just worries about riding the best she can. Her main competition will come from the British and Dutch camps.
Doncartier's owner Robson says the moment she saw her 18-year-old horse and Dixon together she knew she had made the right decision.
The chestnut – who has more stamps in his passport than most people – has competed successfully at international level for her, but she felt it was getting too much for him.
“That said, he wasn't ready to retire, so it is perfect,” said Robson. “He loves going to shows, being the centre of attention and feeling like he is number one.”
Robson, who trains Dixon and Doncartier, is hopeful the combination will crack 70% - it is a mark they have already achieved from individual international judges in their build-up to WEG.
“Both of them are more than capable of a medal if everything goes right on the day.”
Dixon will use Tuesday's team test as a warm-up, with the individual championship on Thursday. The top seven from that will be taken through to the musical freestyle on Friday.
Para-dressage chef d'equipe Warrick Allan is confident she will make that cut.
“Anthea took what she learnt at the London Paralympics and has progressed to a whole new level,” he says. “I believe she is more than capable of a personal best here at WEG.”
WEG is also the first Rio 2016 Paralympic Games qualifier for the discipline.
The Fact Box
• The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games run from August 23 – September 7 in France.
• New Zealand will be represented by teams in endurance (Aug 28), eventing (Aug 28-31) and vaulting (Sept 2-5), and individuals in para-dressage (Aug 25-29) and showjumping (Sept 2-7).
• WEG is held every four years in different locations.
• A record 76 countries are expected to take part, making it the world’s largest equestrian sport event which includes 1000 competitors.
• More than 500,000 people are expected to attend over the two weeks.
• For more information, head to www.normandy2014.com .