Dressage superstar Lee Pearson is one step closer to being crowned Great Britain’s greatest ever Paralympian after finishing top of his class in the Team test at Greenwich – but only just after what he dubbed a “rider error”.
Pearson, undoubtedly one of the most flamboyant athletes at London 2012, was in his usual good spirits despite the mistake: “It's an okay start - but it wasn't the best test we've ever done. I warned everyone about Gentleman's [his equine dancing partner] sense of humour.”
The 38-year-old from Stoke-on-Trent added: “He warmed up fine but when we went into the ring he heard the crowds cheering and said: 'Oh Daddy, do we really have to work today?' He was cheeky and in child mode - it was a bit like being in a car race without an accelerator.”
Team mate Natasha Baker, riding Cabral in the II class, also came top, with three more GB riders to go tomorrow before Saturday’s final.
Pearson, a class Ib rider, has won gold at every Paralympic Games in which he has competed. He took the triple (team, individual and freestyle) at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics, 2004 Athens Paralympics and 2008 Beijing Paralympics, thus setting an equestrian world record by being unbeaten at three consecutive Paralympic Games.
In 2003, he became the only disabled person to have won a title at the British Dressage National Championships competing against able-bodied riders.
Team GB is feared by the other dressage nations after its 10 medal haul in 2008 – which included five golds. Pearson needs two golds to equal Tanni Grey-Thompson’s medal record.