Aug 31 2012 By Zhen-Kuang Goh
UXBRIDGE's Natasha Baker got her 2012 Paralympics campaign off to a storming start by placing first in the Grade II team test.
The 22-year-old posted a score of 76.095% on horse Cabral to win the grade.
Baker is riding as an individual, which means her score will not contribute towards Great Britain's final total score in the team test event, but the result still proved to be a very good warm-up as she prepares for her individual first final on Saturday (September 1).
She praised gelding Cabral for holding his nerve, adding that she had been taken aback by the crowd.
“Cabral has been cool as a cucumber since we’ve arrived, eating well and everything.
“I’ve done loads of work with the psychologist to prepare for this event just as I did for the Europeans last year, but you can’t replicate this amount of people, the noise and atmosphere.
“I needed to be the one responsible and stay cool, calm and collected.”
While Baker's team test ride will not count for anything, she believes the partnership she has with Cabral will again produce the goods when it counts in the Championship Test on Saturday.
“I loved every single second and can't wait for Saturday,” she said. “I believe we can do even better.”
And her Games won't be over yet after that, as she rides in the Individual Freestyle Test on Monday (September 3) as well.
She added that the support she has received had been overwhelming. “It's been going crazy on Twitter and Facebook, I had to switch off my phone this morning,” she said.
Elsewhere, Great Britain's Lee Pearson scored 74.682% on Gentleman in the Grade 1b team test, a score which will count towards GB's final total.
Each team rider's Championship Test score will be added to GB's combined team test score to determine the team result, with medals also being presented in five individual events in each of the Championship and Freestyle Tests.