Animal Health Trust UK Announce Nominees for Harvey Spack Field Dressage Award
Will the Para Dressage team make it two years running or will their coach take the title at the Animal Health Trust UK Equestrian Awards…
It is not often that a coach faces his own team in a competition, but for once, these two face each other as they contend for the Harvey Spack Field Dressage Award at this year’s prestigious event.
The Animal Health Trust (AHT) is very proud to announce this year’s Dressage Award nominees, which is kindly sponsored by Harvey Spack Field. British Dressage could not be more pleased with the performance of this year’s Para Team as a whole, and so has put forward both the team of riders and their coach for the judging panel to make the final, difficult, decision.
Nominees for the prestigious title will be judged in a new and exciting format; with the winner being selected by a panel of previous champions, including the 2016 Harvey Spack Field Dressage Award winners Spencer Wilton and Anne Dunham. Spencer and Anne’s teams were joint winners in 2016 following their amazing Olympic and Paralympic performances in Rio.
Para-Equestrian Dressage Team: Sophie Wells, Suzanna Hext, Erin Orford, Julie Payne
“Our para athletes are no strangers to success on the international stage, but at this year’s European Championships, our ‘rookie’ team surpassed all expectations” reports British Dressage. “Not only did we have three riders selected to represent Team GBR for the first time, one of whom had a late call-up as reserve just one week prior to the competition, but three of the horses were also experiencing their first major championship. It was all the more remarkable therefore to come away with six gold medals, including the team medal, with the team winning eight medals in total.
“It was a privilege to witness the drive, determination, commitment and enthusiasm of these four exceptionally talented riders, with a positive team spirit and camaraderie that set an example for our able bodied athletes to follow.”
Para Team Trainer: Michel Assouline
“Our Para Team Trainer, Michel Assouline, has been a fundamental part of the team’s success over the last 12 years,” says British Dressage. “During this time Britain has been unbeaten on the international stage and winning a phenomenal 121 medals in total, including 64 gold, 44 silver and 13 bronze. There is no-one better at helping to prepare and set-up horses for our para athletes to compete on, but his contribution goes far beyond training. From sourcing the right horses for the unique demands of para dressage, to providing a high standard of arena leadership at FEI championship events, Michel has an enormous understanding and empathy for both the abilities and disabilities of our riders at all levels.
“Michel became the UK Para-Equestrian Dressage Team Coach in 2005 and has led Team GBR riders to win Team Gold medals at six European Championships, three World Equestrian Games and three Paralympic Games between 2005 and 2017. We wish him the best of luck as he is moving on to pursue new challenges in his career, but he will be much missed by everyone involved with our para programme.”
2017 is a particularly special year for the Animal Health Trust as it celebrates its 75th Anniversary. Its work over the last 75 years has aimed at improving the health and welfare of all equines, from elite competition horses to beloved family ponies. The Trust’s vital research into equine infectious diseases and injuries has supported the education of horse owners and governing bodies such as British Dressage, to ensure the good health of horses today and in the future. In particular, the sport has benefited from vital research, results of which help trainers, riders and vets improve the performance of their team – which can mean the difference between winning, and losing.
The annual AHT UK Equestrian Awards will be hosted at The London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square on Tuesday 31 October. Tickets and tables are still available, but will be in high demand as guests have the opportunity to share an evening alongside true equine royalty and their favourite equine stars. For more information: www.aht.org.uk/equestrianawards