Sarah Carless ..
In a dramatic finish to the Mars Inc Eventing competition at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 Tryon, Great Britain claimed honours in both the Team and Individual standings with Ros Canter being crowned champion.
The final show jumping phase – which had to be postponed by a day due to heavy rainfall on Sunday – caused problems throughout the field and made for an exciting climax to the 2018 World Equestrian Games.
Great Britain’s victory comes off the back of their European team title in Strzegom last year, and thus secures their qualification for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Their final team total – 88.8 – was the lowest score in World Championship history.
Rosalind Canter entered the arena on her own and Caroline Moore’s Allstar B as the final team rider. A text-book clear round from pair not only secured Great Britain the team World Championships, but also confirmed an individual medal for herself, putting the pressure on the final rider overnight leader Ingrid Klimke.
Riding SAP Hale Bob OLD, the German rider had no breathing space, and as they approached the final fence it looked like the individual gold was going to Germany, but the crowds’ cheers turned to gasps as a pole on the final fence fell and the individual title went to Canter with a winning score of 24.6.
A delighted Ros said; “I don’t think it’s sunk in. I can’t believe it; Allstar B was absolutely amazing, he was an absolute hero, I had an amazing experience in there. I kept saying just let him do his job, and I’m so proud, he’s just phenomenal. I think I was pretty focused going into the arena. I was fortunate enough to sit on a horse like Allstar B where as long as I can get it right, he’ll just keep going higher and higher for me.There were quite a few tears when I found out which isn’t normal for me. It’s just absolutely incredible – not just for me, but the whole sport and team behind me and Team Great Britain.The team around us is just phenomenal. They make the dream come true really.
“I’ve been lucky enough the last two years – I went to Europeans last year which gave me a feeler on what this is about. I’ve had a bit of exposure at the top level – maybe for me it helps a little bit – I can just think about the process and I suppose maybe not having done it before that takes pressure off me a little bit and allows me to do my job. It’s a very surreal day for me. There are so many emotions, but I am very proud and proud of my country and just excited for the whole team around me and everyone that’s put so much into this.”
Great Britain headed into the show jumping with an 8.2 penalty advantage – just over two fences – over Ireland, and, after two clear rounds from Ireland’s team riders, the pressure mounted on the final three British combinations. This came after Gemma Tattersall got Britain underway in the show jumping phase with 12 faults on The Soul Syndicate’s Arctic Soul, who finished on a score of 44.4.
Tom McEwen was next in for the team and took an unlucky four faults from an otherwise impressive round on his own, Jane Inns and Alison McEwen’s Toledo de Kerser. Their completion score of 32.4 meant that the gap between the team gold and silver had closed to just four faults with two team riders left to show jump. McEwen, who was making his Senior Championships debut, finished in 12th.
The penultimate rider for Great Britain was Piggy French, who also picked up four faults on Jayne McGivern’s Quarrycrest Echo – in the final combination on course, which reduced the team’s advantage to just 0.2 of a penalty. The pair went on to finish in tenth.
Ireland’s final team rider, Sarah Ennis, headed into the final phase in individual bronze but an early fence down on Horseware Stellor Rebound dropped them out of the individual medals and also increased the penalty gap between team silver and gold back to four.
After Canter’s brilliant clear round the team gold was secured for Great Britain with a score of 88.8, Ireland took team silver on 93.0 and France bronze with a score of 99.8.
Great Britain’s individual combination, Tina Cook and Elisabeth Murdoch and Keith Tyson’s Billy the Red, rounded off their championships with a clear round which pulled them up to finish in ninth place individually, and second best of the British riders behind Ros on a score of 31.5 in ninth.
Following Great Britain’s success, Performance Manager for Eventing Richard Waygood MBE said; “It’s been an amazing day in the office, really great team work. They all pulled together, they all went in there for the team and stuck to the system. It was close at the end, but even before Ros jumped the last fence I knew she had it. Our primary objective coming here was qualifying for Tokyo and our next objective was to win as many medals as possible, and we’ve achieved both goals.”
Ireland claimed a historic silver medal in the team competition, with Padraig McCarthy taking individual silver with Mr Chunky. A clear round boosted them from seventh going into the final phase on to the podium.
Ireland’s first combination, Cathal Daniels and Rioghan Rua, finished with one fence down.Forty years after his father John won a silver at the World Championships at Lexington in 1978, Sam Watson jumped a clear round with Horseware Ardagh Highlight. Along with McCarthy’s clear, the pressure was starting to mount on the British team, with just 0.2 penalties separating the two nations, but their positon on the podium was confirmed. The team’s final rider, Sarah Ennis and Horseware Stellor Rebound had one fence down putting the team in Silver medal position.
It is Ireland’s first team World medal since 1966 and first individual medal since 1978, and has secured them qualification for the Olympics in Tokyo in two years’ time.
Following his individual medal McCarthy said: “I wasn’t in medal position when I went in, and I have experience jumping at bigger competitions and he’s a great jumper. In a previous life I was a show jumper. The horse was jumping brilliant, so I didn’t go in with any pressure since I wasn’t in medal position. I’ve dreamt about a medal for the last six months. With a horse like this, you have to dream big. If you think you can’t do it, you don’t do it. It’s been on my mind since the beginning with him.”
Irish Eventing Team High Performance Director Sally Corscadden commented: “This is absolutely huge. We’re making history today when you really think about it. We haven’t had a world medal since 1978 in individual or in team since 1995, so to be here as a team is absolutely fantastic. Our goal the whole time was to be competitive and we stuck to that goal.”
Team France, made up of Thibaut Valllette and Qing du Briot ENE HN (6th), Maxime Livio and Opium de Verrieres (11th), Sidney Dufresn and Tresor Mail (18th), and Donatien Schauly and Pivoine des Touches (21st), finished on a three-phase final team score of 99.8 for the bronze medal.
Of the 70 starters, 19 jumped clear and 16 of those made the time. Of the 16 riders who did not incur penalties during the show jumping, just 4 finished on their dressage score, joining the 19 other combinations that have finished on their dressage score in World Equestrian Games history.
Images Courtesy of Liz Gregg