Tan's bet on young horse falls through

After two medals at each of the past two Paralympics, equestrienne Laurentia Tan will return from the Rio Games without a record fifth medal, leaving her tied with para-swimmer Yip Pin Xiu as Singapore's most bemedalled Paralympian.

The 37-year-old Tan scored 72.300 points to finish sixth of eight riders in yesterday's individual freestyle test grade 1a final.

The gold went to Briton Sophie Christiansen, who managed 79.700 points aboard Athene Lindebjerg. Compatriot Anne Dunham (Ljt Lucas Normark) was second with 76.050, ahead of Brazilian Sergio Oliva (Coco Chanel) on 75.150.

Tan, who has cerebral palsy and is profoundly deaf, had placed fifth in the individual championship 1a event a day earlier and declined any media interviews.

Her disappointment was shared by Equestrian Federation of Singapore president Melanie Chew who told The Sunday Times: "I feel terrible, but what to do?"

Both she and Tan's German coach Volker Eubel attributed the defeat to judges who were cautious in awarding high marks to horses they were unfamiliar with.

Tan has been riding seven-year-old Fuerst Sherlock for only four months. She had previously partnered Ruben James 2, now an 18-year-old gelding.

In para-dressage, riders guide their mounts to perform set movements accompanied by music and five judges award points based on their execution.

Eubel said a young horse like Fuerst Sherlock cannot be "100 per cent accurate in its technical movements," an area they are working on.

The team, however, decided to use him as he was more dynamic and had a better walk than Ruben James 2.

Eubel said: "The horse was very confident and focused. Competitors have also come up to me to remark that he is a quality horse.

"I've never had a horse with his character in my stable. He gives you a feeling of trust immediately."

When asked how Tan was coping with the loss, Chew said: "She hates to lose and that's what will make her a champion one day - just not today."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 18, 2016, with the headline 'Tan's bet on young horse falls through'. Print Edition | Subscribe