IRELAND’s para dressage campaign at the 2020 Paralympic Games got underway today in Tokyo, with Rosemary Gaffney and Tamsin Addison in action.

Gaffney (62), competing at her first Paralympic Games, was the first Irish athlete to trot down the centre line in the Grade IV individual competition. Riding Werona, owned by Gaffney and Sue Smallman, she rode a lovely test to score 65.39% and finish 15th.

A mistake when the mare changed leg behind and some anticipation before the canter transitions saw her lose some marks. However, Gaffney finished the test with a big smile having finally achieved her Paralympic dream.

"I went into the arena a nobody and came out a paralympian. I am on cloud nine," she said afterwards.

Rosemary Gaffney riding Werona in the Grade IV competition at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan \ Sportsfile

Gaffney missed out on qualification for the Freestyle final with just eight making it through. Reigning Paralympic champion Sanne Voets of The Netherlands defended her title in style when scoring 76.58%. Voets is also the current world and European champion.

Second place went to Brazil’s Rodolpho Riskalla on Don Henrico with 74.65%, while Belgium's Manon Claeys took the bronze on San Dior 2 with 72.85%.

In the Grade V individual competition, Tamsin Addison (48) finished 12th with her own Fahrenheit. A score of 66.40% was not enough to see them qualify for the Freestyle final but she will be happy with the test which was littered with scores of seven and not marked down for any particular movement.

The gold medal went the way of Belgium’s Michelle George and Best Of 8 on a score of 76.52%. George also won gold at London 2012 and Rio 2016. Britain’s Sophie Wells claimed the silver with Don Cara M (74.40), ahead of Dutchman Frank Hosmar and Alphaville (73.40%) in the bronze.

Pearson’s 12th gold medal

In the Grade II competition, Britain’s Sir Lee Pearson won the Grade II Individual test to take his 12th gold in a Paralympic career which started in Sydney 2000. Riding Breezer, Pearson scored 76.26% to finish ahead of Austria’s Pepo Puch, who rode Sailor's Blue to score 73.44%.

Britain’s Georgia Wilson took the bronze on Sakura, with 72.76%. Wilson was a last minute addition to the team following the withdrawal of Sophie Christiansen. It is her first Paralympic Games. Ireland were not represented in Grade II.

Michael Murphy and Kate Kerr Horan are in individual action at the Baji Keon Equestrian Park tomorrow (Friday).

Murphy rides Cleverboy in the Grade I individual final at 8.40am. Kerr-Horan competes Serafina T in Grade III at 11.54am.

The team competition, with the three riders per team yet to be announced, takes place on Saturday and Sunday, followed by the Freestyle finals on Monday.

You can watch the action for free on the Paralympic YouTube channel.