Saturday, September 1, 2012

London, England — Earlier today at the Greenwich Park, riding third in the Paralympic Dressage Individual Championship Test – Grade II, Grace Bowman withdrew mid-ride after a series of low scores during the event. Bowman was Australia’s only rider in this event.

Prior to entering the competition ring, Bowman’s horse Kirby Park Joy was in poor form, with Bowman unable to get control of her, showing little harmony between horse and rider. With a score of 70% or better expected for the best competitors, Bowman started with 48.0% on the halt salute, 44% on the half circle and 48.7% on the medium trot. Things did not get better as the ride continued, with Bowman earning a 45.8% in the reinback, 39.8% for the circle R 8m and 37.3% for the circle L 8m. Shortly after this, Bowman signaled to the judges her desire to withdraw from the ride. In the competition ring, she was frequently pulling on the reins as Kirby Park Joy was frequently tossing her head. According to a Dutch equestrian journalist, her horse was not agreeing with her from the start. Bowman left the field of play in tears.

Bowman had said this event was her favorite, telling the media Thursday following her ride in the team competition, “I enjoy the individual test best of all, but don’t like the freestyle — it’s my least favourite.”

Kirby Park Joy has had problems in London, with Bowman telling the media, “She was a bit tense and didn’t like the big scoreboard ahead of us, so our score was much lower than usual.” Australian Team Manager Sally Francis confirmed this, saying in a media release, “Grace’s horse has had some issues with the sight screen in the arena. […] Grace did well to control her during the team test and finish [Thursday]. We’ve been working very closely with her horse since to try to alleviate any stress it might be under.”

It isn’t the first time Bowman has had horse problems at the Paralympics; her horse at the 2008 Summer Paralympics had similar issues.

Bowman’s London Paralympic campaign has come to an end without a medal, after having finished 21st Thursday in the Team Test – Grade II event.

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