FEI World Para-equestrian Driving Championships
Kronenberg, Netherlands
28 August - 2 September 2018

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Team GBR goes to the
World Championships
Travel Blog by
Lindsey Tyas-Paice
READ MORE ABOUT THE DRIVERS   STARTLIST & RESULTS
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Sunday 2nd September
Well what a day the Brits had yesterday! With all our drivers putting in excellent rounds and personal bests across the board and both Team and individual medals being hotly pursued, there is all to play for today.

The cones course was available to the Para drivers for walking last night and will certainly be a test of skill, courage and nerves of steel as there are multiple combinations, twists and turns all to be driven within the set time.


Rachel Belliere-Wilson and Chris Van Reen waiting for the cones to start. Photo: Lindsey Tyas-Paice.

After yesterday’s, exciting marathon, all the British contingent have moved up the placings so will have put their own personal coping strategies in place as the pressure is put on with the drivers going ahead of them.

First to go from the British camp was Joyce Carrick and Tickle who set the standard with just two cones down and a few time faults.


Joyce Carrick in the cones. Photo: Lindsey Tyas-Paice

There was then a break from the British of six drivers before Deborah and Sam’s round and with balls falling and time faults being incurred she knew she had to put in a solid performance. Having to keep their nerve before their round and knowing that the time was tight, Debs pushed on through the cones making a great time with two balls down. An unfortunate turn by Giulio Tronca (ITA) meant that he was eliminated and thus moved Debs up a place.


Deborah Daniel in the cones. Photo Lindsey Tyas-Paice.

Knowing that the pressure was really on, Jamie and Elmo entered the arena with great trepidation and drove a fabulous round within the time and two down putting them into the lead in the cones and maintaining their fourth position. Tension was in the air as Martje Witvoet (NED) drove her round but due to the lead she had over Jamie, she just managed to secure her position, even though she had three balls down and incurred time faults.


Jamie Williams in the cones. Photo Lindsey Tyas-Paice.

With only two more to go, all eyes were on the leaders, Jacques Poppen and Heiner Lehrter as they completed their rounds. With Heiner having a suitable lead above Martje Witvoet (NED) he was also able to maintain Silver. Jacques concluded the class with one down, winning the cones and taking the championship. The Dutch went wild!

Next in were the Grade 2s. As Joanne was the third to drive, all eyes were on the those before her. With Bob Giles, the last of Team USA’s drivers having three down and additional time faults there was jubilation in the British camp as Team GBR knew they had won Team Bronze. With individual medals still at large, Joanne and Texas entered the arena driving with great focus and determination to again have two down and no time penalties.


Joanne McNicol in the cones. Photo: Lindsey Tyas-Paice.

The air of excitement grew as the top five drivers entered the cones. Mick put in an excellent performance driving Douglas and with only two cones down and a good time went into the lead in the cones and with the next two competitors incurring further penalties all eyes were on the scoreboard as to whether he would get into the medals. However, it wasn’t to be as the top three managed to secure their places and the Gold again went to Netherlands’ Francisca Den Elzen.


Mick Ward in the cones. Photo by Lindsey Tyas-Paice.

The excitement continued as the Championships drew to a close and the top three in cones across the Championships entered the arena. Jamie and Deborah took 2nd and third respectively in the G1 cones and Mick took 2nd place in the cones.


Mick Ward at the prize giving ceremony. Photo: Lindsey Tyas Paice.

 Also, presented by the FEI for the fourth time, was the prestigious Princess Haya Hand-in-Hand. This trophy is awarded to the team of one para-equestrian athlete and one able bodied athlete who at the end of the competition have the lowest combined score.

With this year’s Para Driving and Single Horse World Championships running simultaneously, the trophy was particularly symbolic as it recognised the integration between the para equestrian and driving discipline.


Jamie Williams at the prize giving. Photo: Lindsey Tyas-Paice.

Previously won by GBR Para Equestrian athlete Lindsey Tyas Paice and Ireland’s Barry Capstick, this year’s competition was again dominated by the Dutch and German and won by Netherland’s Francisca Den Elzen and Saskia Siebers.

Next followed the Team and Individual medals, with podiums in place the crowd erupted and a jubilant British Team were presented with their Bronze medals.

Huge congratulations must also go to Team GBRs Individual drivers Joanne McNicol and Joyce Carrick.

Both were competing at World Class level for the first time and put in World class performances both driving animals lent to them for the duration of the Championship campaign. As a team we are indebted to the generosity of their owners.

With such an exciting climax to the 2018 World Championships Great Britain can only be excited about the future, All the drivers both individuals and those on the successful Bronze medal winning team drove fantastically and to the best of their ability putting in personal bests and achieving so many goals, and all the horses,’ none of which had performed on the World stage put in excellent performances.

Watching the Championships one can see the importance on the schooling of dressage, with amazing elegance, it has been a pleasure to watch. Hope that with the running of both the single and para Worlds it will inspire not only great Britain’s athletes for the future but also an array of nations from around the world to participate in this exciting, elegant and Adrenalin fuelled sport.


Deborah Daniel - Team GBR Bronze at the prize giving. Photo: Lindsey Tyas-Paice.

Over The years the British Team have experienced great success in the sport medalling four Team Silvers, three Team Bronze, two Individual Grade 2 Silvers and Bronzes, one Grade 1 Bronze and a Gold and Bronze in the Pairs. Like all sport, over the years there is tremendous technical and athlete development within all aspects of sport and training progresses and develops as athletes and their support teams strive to be the best.

There will always be World Champions and we owe the success from the past to help contribute to the extremely successful training programme that has been developed.

A tremendous amount of success is also owed to the support on the ground behind the scenes for each of our drivers; owners, trainers, family and the extensive support that has been involved to get each of our drivers here. It is this support that contributes to the success of any team and really helps to make the dream team work.

A big thank you must also go out to all our sponsors, supporters, family, friends and fellow competitors who contributed to the success and experience of such a fabulous week of World Class competition and to Assistant Chef D’Equipe Julie Camm and Trainer; Sara Howe who have provided amazing support, help and insight during the Championship campaign. Special thanks must also go to Rachel Belliere Wilson who made her final appearance as Chef d'Equipe for Team GBR having been in the role for the past five World Championships and prior to that was trainer to the team since 2002.

Finally thank you to each and every one of you, who have followed us on this journey both on the blog, our Facebook book page and Twitter. It has been a great week and the future looks exciting. The legacy of all our drivers, past, present and future continues and we look forward to the announcement of the next Para Worlds.

Grade 1 Cones   Grade 2 Cones
2nd – Jamie Williams - 6.00 (2:33.81)
3rd – Deborah Daniel - 6.00 (2:42.33)
10th -Joyce Carrick - 21.21 (3:20.66)
  2nd – Mick Ward – 6.00 (2:36.68)
4th – Joanne McNicol – 6.00 (2:49.02)
Grade 1 Overall   Grade 2 Overall
4th - Jamie Williams (151,57)
5th - Deborah Daniel (154.53)
12th - Joyce Carrick (184.41)
  4th – Mick Ward (156.38)
5th – Joanne McNicol (157.76)
Team Competition    
Gold - Netherlands - 244.72
Silver - Germany - 277.58
Bronze - Great Britain - 304.31
4th - USA - 331.02
   
Saturday 1st September
Well it’s going to be an action pumped and adrenalin fuelled day today, as marathon day is upon us. All drivers, grooms, back steppers, trainers and support staff were again up early utilising the short window of opportunity to do a final course inspection and walk of the obstacles before the course closed and the first half of the Horse Singles started.


Hive of activity in the GBR camp. Photo: Lindsey Tyas-Paice.

With three of the Brits; Tracey Fletcher, Karen Scot Barret and Sara Clough out early in the first half, drivers had an opportunity to briefly see some of the early competitors go through.

Most support crews and second grooms also were out in force to support and try out their timings to get to each obstacle before their specified driver started the course.

All drivers competing as a Grade 1, must in addition to their back stepper have a specified second groom in an allocated position at each obstacle.

That way should there be any need for a groom to be at the head they will always have a groom on board the carriage.


Second grooms for Grade 1 getting ready to run. Photo: Lindsey Tyas-Paice.

Ready for the action and standing in place at the halt to ensure both horses and drivers were managed and ready for action were Chris Van Reen and Daisy Collins and an array of team backup support, Chef D’Equipe Rachel Belliere Wilson was also on hand to meet drivers at the finish.

With spotters out on the course ready to relay how the course was driving to the paras, it wasn’t long till the relay of British Single Horse drivers were out on the course producing some fast times.

There were British flags aplenty and mass followings as Team GBRs Single Horse drivers moved through the obstacles.

Hot on their heels were the Paras, and boy did they drive like the wind with each and every one of them taking no prisoners.

Trail blazer of the Grade 1s and first to go of the British contingent was Joyce Carrick driving Tickle.

Driving every inch of the way she flew through the first water making the third fasted time of the class behind Jacques Poppen and Martje Witovet and then continued to drive with great passion and finesse putting in some excellent times.

Joyce later said that the feeling she had got on the marathon was simply amazing and made her feel alive like never before.


Joyce Carrick in obstacle 1. Photo: Lindsey Tyas-Paice.

Next to go and in quick succession were Jamie Williams and Deborah Daniels.

They both flew like the wind, putting in some excellent times and piling the pressure on the international drivers.

For the first time ever, the Germans were knocked off the top four places and the Grade 1 class was instead dominated by the Dutch and the British.

All credit must go to all the back up and support teams around the drivers who together with the drivers themselves have worked tirelessly to get the horses, athletes and carriages in peak condition ready for this.


Jamie Williams in Obstacle 2. Photo: Lindsey Tyas-Paice.

The fast-paced action continued as the Grade 2 class got under way and Mick Ward and Douglas started to again put the pressure on the top three positions. Putting in the fastest para time of the day in obstacle 5 they continued to glide through the obstacles and were delighted to move up to 5th place after the marathon.


Mick Ward in obstacle 4. Photo: Lindsey Tyas-Paice.

Continuing the drive forward from the British Team was Joanne McNicol. Driving Pip Holgate’s Texas at her first Worlds, she really pushed both herself and Texas to the limit and made some excellent times securing 8th place. That look of total passion to the sport was so clear as Jo crossed the finish line and triumphantly raised a hand to the sounds of “We did it!”.


Joanne McNicol. Photo: Lindsey Tyas-Paice.

All in all, today has been a fabulous day for Team GBR. We have really piled the pressure on the international para drivers and the work that our drivers, their animals and every member of the Team support team and the driver support teams, really seems to be paying off.


Marathon de-brief.

We have the marathon prize giving tonight and will have flags a plenty as Jamie and Debbie made the top four in the Grade 1s. Unfortunately, Mick just missed out on the presentation for the Grade 2s as only three go forward.


Drivers & supporters

After driving a physically demanding and technical marathon the marathon placings are as follows:

Grade 1 3rd – Jamie Williams (84.06) 4th – Deborah Daniel (85.10) 13th -Joyce Carrick (94.77)

Grade 2 4th – Mick Ward (88.54) 8th – Joanne McNicol (96.59)

So, who will we see take the title of World Champion tomorrow? With all to play for and GBR currently in 4th place the competition will be hot and a closely fought competition. Going forward to the cones tomorrow the current standings are:

Grade 1 4th - Jamie Williams (145.37) 6th - Deborah Daniel (148.43) 13th - Joyce Carrick (163.08)

Grade 2 5th – Mick Ward (150.38) 7th – Joanne McNicol (151.76)

Team 1st Netherlands - 238,72 2nd Germany - 262,58 3rd Great Britain - 292,31 4th USA - 303,35

 

Friday 31 August
As another busy day loomed for the GB camp there was more walking of obstacle and finalisation of route planning.


Joanne McNicol

With access to the first water obstacle again limited because of the dressage today there was only a short window of opportunity to walk it so the Paras and their backsteppers were up in the cold walking obstacle 2.


Joyce Carrick

Debs barbers was open again for business this morning with Jeremy returning for a shave but this time from Rebecca.

Due to the number of spectators coming to watch the dressage today, access through one of the side gates was not available so the planned course walk of section A, the transfer and B was delayed until the afternoon. With five grooms and four drivers in convoy they then headed off with Sara and team to ensure all compulsory flags were in hand.


Team meeting

As the final day of Single Horse dressage draws to a close, there is more course walking, times checking and final checks to the carriages.

The marathon starts at 8.30 tomorrow with the first part of the Single horses going first, the Paras and then the remainder of the singles. It is sure to be an exciting day of competition.


Rudolf Pirhorfer (AUT), winner of the Singles dressage

The Dressage prize giving for the Paras and Single horses takes place tonight, so the GB camp will be out in force cheering their two Grade 2 drivers.

  • Joanne McNicol : 4th – 55.17
  • Mick Ward: 8th : - 61.84

Anticipated times for tomorrow’s marathon are due to start at 11.00

 

Thursday 30 August
Today the wheels on the cog slow down a bit for Team GBR’s para drivers as the Single horses do their dressage both today and tomorrow, so for two days there is no para competition in the schedule.

Drivers have had a chance to explore the site and shops and horses and ponies have been lightly exercised.

Although it may be a more restful day, as is the norm at a World Championships there is no rest for the wicked and team trainer Sara together with Julie and Trish have kept the drivers on their toes, walking obstacles and looking for any possible routes to get the fastest times.

Trish, the GB camp’s Olympic runner has been in fine form walking or rather running routes with the measuring wheel and dread to think how many miles she has run.

At one stage she was even seen running in Zola Budd style, barefoot around the obstacles to feel their camber at speed with Sara timing her!

Fitness is definitely something that has played a significant role in the GB camp as the initial 1 km walk to the opening ceremony in Toverland on Tuesday turned out to be 3.5 km.

We are just all hoping that they don’t measure the marathon in the same way.

With a large proportion of the sections covering the area where we walked to Toverland, the terrain of the course is picturesque, flat and through some woods with only a small amount of roadwork.

Section A, the transfer, and the start of section B are all together so it is vital that both driver and back stepper are fully aware of the route to be taken and compulsory flags.

As is the ruling for the Paras, they drive six obstacles, so will be doing the following six obstacles:

1. Limburg Paarden Sport - obstacle positioned behind dressage stands

2. Center Parcs Echt even samen – First water and bridge obstacle

3. Scelta mushroom - The two thatched huts (officially horse no 4)

4. Stihl – Second Water – (officially horse no 6)

5. LVS - Cross umbrella huts - (officially horse number 7)

6. Gommans &De Wit leasing – Hexagonal circles & round abouts (officially horse no.8)

There have been two course walks with the obstacle walking team: Sara, Julie and Trish.

First with individual drivers Jo and Andrea and Joyce and Chris A, then later with team members; Jamie and Robin, Mick and Chris and lastly Debs and Holly.

Drivers and back steppers have then gone on to walk the course and sections.

Not content with just course walking and everything else, Robyn was also called in to the local barbers as she was required by Rebecca Arnold’s other half, Jeremy, for some hairdressing duties.

Think we may put a sign up outside Debs’s lorry touting for business!

There have also been jubilant celebrations in the GB camp as the Team Tyas Paice support team (Lindsey. Alison, Paul and Elizabeth) who had been utilising Jamie’s portable stabling after their hired camper van broke down on arrival at kronenenburg on Monday were finally reunited.

Having been reliant on taxis all week and travelling like pack horses they can now relax.

With the drivers and back steppers and everyone else memorising different routes over dinner, the camp continued to work on their fitness during the evening watching both the Para Equestrian & Single Horse on foot Olympics entertainment in the marquee.

Wednesday 29th August
As the sun rose over Kronenberg, all Team GBR were up with their crews at the crack of dawn, getting ready for a very tight schedule of events.

With the trot up commencing at 8.30, everyone was busy plaiting, polishing and walking animals.

All the preparation, teamwork and rotation of walkers paid off, animals, athletes and crew members looked immaculate and the Team worked like a dream.

Out of the twenty four horses presented, three (GER, NED and SWE) were held for a short while in the holding box but passed on second presentation.

For the first time ever, Denmark has been represented at the Championships, sending one driver in the Grade 1 class.

Once the vets inspection was complete, there was a brief opportunity for everyone to refresh themselves before the draw for the dressage took place and as soon as times were released, for this meant that they were back on the hamster wheel again.

Team trainer, Sara Howe was going to have her work cut out with five drivers.

  • Joyce: 14.30 – Grade 1
  • Debs: 16:00 – Grade 1
  • Jamie: 16:50 – Grade 1
  • Joanne: 17:30 – Grade 2
  • Mick: 18:40 – Grade 2
Dressage started on Wednesday afternoon and making her World Championship debut and celebrating her birthday, Joyce was drawn as the first Para competitor of the day. Driving Chris Ainscough’s Tickle, she drove her best ever dressage test, scoring 68.31. Only 1 penalty point behind 2006 World Champion Diane Kastama.

Next to drive was Debs and Sam. With her trustworthy and hard working groom, Holly Dormer behind her, Debs drove every ounce of the test, with a challenging Sam who had decided to take an aversion to the score system they scored 63.42.

Driving in his second World Championships and with the rain just about holding off, Jamie put in a solid performance and was delighted with how Elmo had performed scoring 61.31. Jamie was followed straight after by eventual winner Jacques Poppen driving his beautiful Aribo Fresian; Anniek to score an outstanding 37.78.

Our first Grade 2 driver and World Championship depute; Joanne McNicol driving Pip Holgate’s coloured trotter Texas, drove her socks off to perform Great Britain’s best dressage, scoring 55.17, just 5 penalties behind second place and 2014 World Champion Alexandra Roder.

With Team member Mick driving the last test of the day, all eyes were on him and Douglas as they entered the arena. Driving a beautiful test and putting in a solid performance in the rain they finished on 61.84.

Chef d’Equipe Rachel was delighted with everyone’s performances and it is a credit to the hard work that all drivers and their backup teams have put in, in preparation for such a prestigious event.

After Dressage, Netherlands is lying in Gold position, Germany in Silver and Great Britain in Bronze with USA very hot on their heels 0.64 penalties behind.

There is all to play for on Saturday, so with the Single Horse Worlds driving their dressage over the next two days, although there is a slight lull for everyone. Great Britain’s Para drivers will be kept hard at work walking, looking and learning the best possible obstacle routes.

Having completed the dressage, next on the agenda was the Evening of Nations. This year, there were joint tables as both the Paras and the Singles joined forces.

Needless to say there was an array of food and drink with a large amount of items that were generously donated to the British table which Team GBR was very grateful for.

One person that was missed from this year’s Championship, who always made a humongous impact on the Para Equestrian Driving world was Heather Clark, who sadly passed away earlier this year. She may not have been here, but her spirit and inspiration lives on and she was remembered on a hand painted cake which was then shared amongst the nations.

With the nations night drawing to a close, the party began and many of the nations partied the night away.

SEE THE FULL DRESSAGE RESULTS
Tuesday 28th August
Putting the previous day’s activities behind them, the team had an early start for a practice trot up under the knowledgeable eyes of Team Vet Rosie and Team Physio Daisy and were duly checked over.

All animals are in cracking condition and have travelled well and some more than others seem to be enjoying the additional attention from the support team.

Debs’ pony Sam though; thoroughly enjoyed his massage afterward from Daisy Collins.


Daisy Collins giving Sam a massage after rehearsal trot-up

With only a short break before the allocated Team training, drivers had to have a quick turnaround to the training field.

Sara really put the drivers and their animals through their paces and everyone is feeling confident about tomorrows dressage.

The OC had also arranged for all competitors to have a three minute familiarisation drive around the top end of the main dressage arena.

With a bridge between the final warm up arena and the main arena it was a welcome opportunity for all drivers to utilise but with a very strict time keeper at the gate the time was gone in no time at all.

This has never been in place before and one which everyone was grateful for.

Tomorrows schedule is very tight, so all hands were on deck to clean carriages, harness and prepare everything that could be thought of.

Para Equestrian athletes were also able to walk the arena on foot.

Using sports psychology techniques to get them into the zone, many of the drivers now use headphones to prepare themselves, quite what the play lists are we are not quite sure but defiantly seemed to be a certain beat their driving techniques.

The Opening Ceremony takes place this evening and everyone is keen to know what the OC has in store for them, all they know is that all Teams are to meet on the training ground in team kit.

So at 7.00pm, 124 competitors and their support teams congregated with flags ablaze. Group photos were taken of the awaiting nations before proceeding in convoy the 1 km to Toverland, a theme park filled with adventurous rides, mystical and magical themes and based on something from Neverland.

Although slightly longer than the anticipated 1 km, it was something of a surreal experience for everyone and something never experienced before and not to be forgotten.

On arrival at the centre of Toverland, athletes were given complimentary drinks and the World Championships were officially opened.

With darkness approaching, athletes were then ushered to the surprise, a ride on boats along the mystical lazy river and tunnels which can only be described as something out of Lord of the Rings. It was very surreal and not something that you would generally expect to experience when competing at a World Championships but definitely something to be embrace.

Boats were allocated to each nation and then athletes introduced with music to the awaiting crowd.

Although getting on and off the boat was challenging, as many had to transfer from their wheelchairs to the boat everyone managed it and shenanigans were seen on board many of the boats.

Under the light of the moon everyone then made their way home, aware that it would only be a few hours before they would be up again for the at 8.30 , followed by the draw for dressage at 10.30 and then the start of the Para Dressage at 2.30.

Sunday 26th / Monday 27th August
Well the show is on the road, the wheels are in motion and Team GBRs Para Drivers and support team are well and truly on their way to Kronenberg for the FEI Para Equestrian driving World Championship.

Building from the success of Team GBR getting to the 2016 Worlds together, it was decided convoy driving was the name of the game to get to Kronenberg, so both Mick and Joanne made the journey to Team Williams base and then make the short journey to Dover, where Team Daniels would join.

Debs had made the first convoy drive the previous day to Bradbourne with Assistant Chef d'Equipe Julie in pouring rain.

Julie then picked up Team Trainer Sara Howe and Trish to make final plans for the parking arrangements in the British camp at Kronenberg.


View from the dressage arena


The Team GBR stables

With everyone on the road together, there was a sudden relay of WhatsApp messages coming through, ranging from improving weather conditions on the continent, squad progress on the road and team building exercises by the support team. This included table tennis and fresh water fishing!


Young support arrives at Grandorse

With the journey going to plan, there was however a sudden switch when the weather scuppered the anticipated ferry crossing, delayed the horses by 7 hours and split some of the teams support crews.

It may have rocked the boat but the team spirits remained high.

Taking advice from the ever knowledgeable Julie and using coping strategies previously suggested by Sports Psychologist Nicola, the team ploughed on, making the later ferry and still arriving as a convoy to miss the queue of lorries from around the world that even delayed trains to the nearby station!


Let the unpacking commence

In no time at all, the British camp was soon up and running. Carriages unloaded, union jacks a plenty, support crews gradually coming in and even quad bikes mended after a team breakdown.


Mick being rescued by Debs.


Team GBR staff dinner

It may have been a rocky road for some but with a bit of determination, positive thinking and drive everyone got there and is looking forward to the start of the Championships. Bring it on!!

 
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