Aldergrove’s Lauren Barwick and Sandrino helped boost Canada into the top-10 at the Paralympics para-dressage event in Tokyo. (Jon Stroud Media/special to Langley Advance Times)

Aldergrove’s Lauren Barwick and South Langley’s Noni Hartvikson ride to a top-10 finish at Paralympics

Team Canada improves on its 2016 para-dressage finish

After taking the lead in team test competition on Saturday, Aug. 28, Aldergrove’s Lauren Barwick and South Langley’s Noni Hartvikson, along with teammate Roberta Sheffield, went on to earn a 10th-place finish for Canada in para-dressage at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan on Sunday.

Three Canadian combinations performed at Baji Koen Equestrian Park during the Grade I, II and III competitions: Barwick, 43, and Sandrino, Lee Garrod’s nine-year-old Westphalian gelding sired by Spirit of Westfalia; Hartvikson, 62 and Onyx, the 18-year-old Hanoverian gelding she co-owns with Jane Macdonald; and Roberta Sheffield, 40, of Lincolnshire, GBR, and Fairuza, her 12-year-old mare.

READ ALSO: Strong performances by Aldergrove and South Langley riders puts Team Canada in the lead at Paralympics

With a final score of 211.699 on Saturday, Canada sat in the gold medal position overnight until the conclusion of the following day’s Grade IV and V competitions.

Ultimately, a tight medal race finished with Great Britain on top of the podium on a total score of 229.905. The Netherlands followed close behind for the silver medal, scoring 229.249, and a score of 224.352 earned bronze for the United States.

On Monday, Barwick and Sandrino were bumped up into the Grade III individual freestyle test event, after another competitor failed to pass inspection.

She originally had just missed out by one qualifying spot.

The five-time Paralympian and Beijing 2008 gold medallist, who thought her Tokyo Games was already over, took advantage of the extra opportunity to compete and posted a sixth-place finish.

“I was really surprised and so pleased and grateful to the universe for the opportunity to ride for my freestyle because it’s one of my favourite tests to ride,” said Barwick, who has only been riding with Sandrino for less than two years.

“These are the best riders in the world, they didn’t just wake up a month ago and say, ‘Hey, let’s go to the Paralympics,’ so the judges know what they’re looking for. They’re looking for that level of refinement at this stage to really reward us with those scores that we’re looking for. We just don’t have that level of refinement yet, so I’m pleased – not so pleased with the scores, they’re the lowest scores I’ve ever had in a freestyle – but I’m not going to let that take away from the fact that today I got to take Team Canada into the arena.”

READ ALSO: Aldergrove, Langley riders named to Olympic para-dressage team

Team Canada Chef d’ Equipe Clive Milkins noted the improvement from a 13th-place finish at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

“I am delighted with the performance of this group of athletes, grooms and support staff,” said Milkins.

Of course, I am disappointed with the final placing and yet, everyone performed well and tried their hardest and I couldn’t ask any more of them.”

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Langley Advance Times