September 3 - There were mixed emotions for Britain's equestrian stars at Greenwich Park today as Natasha Baker picked up her second gold of the Paralympics but Lee Pearson missed out on an 11th gold.
The 22-year-old Baker (pictured top and below), riding Cabral, was able to celebrate after a record score of 82.8 per cent in the individual freestyle test grade II class, her second Paralympic record of the Games.
Germans Britta Napel, who won a gold in Beijing four years ago, aboard Aquilina3, and Angelika Trabert on Ariva-Avanti won silver and bronze respectively behind Baker, and the same trio finished in the same order in the individual championship test grade II.
Reigning champion Lauren Barwick of Canada could only finish eighth.
"I am completely over the moon," said Baker, who suffers from a rare neurological disorder which means she must use muscles in her bottom and whispers to communicate with her horse.
"It was a personal best, a Paralympic record and a gold medal – that's pretty special."
Baker was inspired to take up Paralympic sport after watching the action at Sydney 2000 on television, and is now looking ahead to Rio 2016.
"Two Paralympic records and two gold medals in my first Games in London – wow," she added.
"It has been an amazing experience to be here and Rio will not be the same without this crowd.
"They have been the best."
Pearson, partnered with Gentleman (pictured below), was denied by a superb showing from Austria's Pepo Puch, who finished with a final score of 79.115 per cent aboard Fine Feeling, in the individual freestyle test grade lb.
It will have been difficult for the 38-year-old to deal with, having won all nine events at the previous three Paralympic Games that he has competed in.
Ironically his chances were possibly dashed by a Briton, the judge Sarah Rodger, who gave him just 65.25 per cent compared with Argentine Lilian Iannone, who awarded Pearson 78.25 per cent.
"I am aware of that judge, and I don't know what the politically correct answer would be other than to say it has happened before with that judge and it will probably happen again," Pearson said.
"She obviously saw something the others did not.
"I just thought considering everything that has been going on, and the fact that the horse hasn't been feeling at his best he tried his heart out today and I rode reasonably well."
He added: "After the week I have had with the horse I am pleased with the medals I have got and Rio here I come, but with a different horse."
Had he won one more gold at these Games Pearson would have drawn level with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson in the list of Britain's most successful Paralympians.
Pearson's despair contrasted with delight for former eventer Puch (pictured above), who competed in equestrian events for Croatia until 2008, representing the nation in the Olympic Games in Athens eight years ago.
Finland's Katja Karjalainen, riding Rosie, took silver with 74.25 per cent, coming 0.05 per cent ahead of Pearson.
Britain continues to lead the equestrian medals table with four golds.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
September 2012: Britain retain unbeaten Paralympic record in team event as they claim two more dressage golds
September 2012: Formosa shatters Pearson's pursuit of perfection in Paralympic equestrian arena