Para dressage rider Alex Sutton cracks the Da Vinci code
SWINDON-BASED rider Alex Sutton has clinched two top placings at the British National Para Dressage Championships aboard new horse Da Vinci II.
Alex and Da Vinci headed to Hickstead last month where they picked up third in both the restricted Grade II team and individual tests with impressive scores of 64.52% and 65.48% respectively.
Da Vinci (stable name Leo) is a 17.2hh chestnut Hanoverian gelding who came to Alex just over a month ago.
Nineteen-year old Alex had only ridden his new mount five times before the competition, which was also Leo's first ever championships.
"I've only had Da Vinci on loan since the beginning of June, so wasn't really expecting to achieve these kind of scores," said Alex.
"He didn't put a foot wrong, though, so I was delighted with how we went, especially as we were only a mark or so behind the winner in the team test.
"It was great to get to compete at an event of this calibre, especially as it was one of the final selections for the London Paralympics."
Alex was born with cerebral palsy and more specifically, right side hemiplegia which affects the whole of the right hand side of his body; he is classified as a Grade II rider.
Having recently completed his level III BTEC Diploma in Horse Management (Business) at Hartpury College, Alex has been offered a place on the Equine Academy Elite Squad in September.
The Hartpury Equine Academy aims to support and develop high-calibre riders seeking to build a competitive career in one of the four Olympic disciplines, while continuing their academic education.
It offers weekly training sessions with top riders such as Carl Hester and assistance with competing schedules, as well as support from physiotherapists, fitness coaches and nutritionists.
JESSICA MENDOZA, from Lyneham in Wiltshire, has been selected to represent Great Britain for the fourth time.
The 16-year-old will be one of five members of the British Pony Team, which headed out this week to compete at the FEI Pony European Championships in Fontainebleau.
The championships take place between July 17 and 22 at the Hippodrome du Grand Parquet, Fontainebleau. GB has won a total of 62 medals at this event during the past three decades and last year Jessica helped secure Team gold and took bronze medal honours individually.
This year, she will once again ride her mother's (Sarah) 14-year-old chestnut mare Tixylix. Jessica joins other team members Beth Adams (16, Halesowen), Millie Allen (14, Stockton-on-Tees), Alex Chitty (15, Gravesend) and Amy Inglis (15, Haywards Heath).
For further information and results please visit www.etrier-arbonne.com. Multiple champion pony showjumper, Jessica is starting to make the transition to horses throughout 2012 and she has recently launched an official fan club and new website which can be found at www.jessicamendoza.co.uk.