For the first time, the World Equestrian Games included seven disciplines, with reining making its debut WEG appearance. There was considerable nervousness in the build-up to the Jerez Games, not in the least because of the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in Europe in 2001; it seemed likely that another disaster would have put paid to the WEG format altogether.
But the Spanish organisers had established an efficient working committee and had secured comprehensive funding, which led to the event being declared a triumph for equestrian sport.
It wasn’t New Zealand’s best WEG though, and we came home medal-less for the first time; Germany again topped the medal table; the USA had an excellent WEG too with eventing and reining team golds, both dressage and driving team silvers, and individual gold and silver in the reining.
The eventing team was Blyth Tait and Ready Teddy, Andrew Nicholson and Fenicio, Dan Jocelyn and Silence, and Heelan Tompkins and Crusada, with Kate Lambie and Alibi competing as individuals. Kallista Field and Jamahl were our sole dressage representatives, and the endurance team was Madonna Harris (Billy Idol), Paul Jeffrey (Rhan), Brian Tiffen (Daintree Pagan) and John Stevenson (Makahiwi Zanzibar).
How we fared:
Our eventing team was fifth; the going on cross-country day was very hard and the slippery, twisty course caused a lot of problems, with nobody going under the time and 26 either eliminated or retiring.
Andrew on Fenicio was our highest-ranked individual, finishing ninth despite breaking a stirrup iron early on; Dan and Silence were 12th and Kate and Alibi 17th. Kate had impressed with a super dressage test for a mark of 34.4, including three 10s, and jumped clear across the country, finishing the final phase with a single rail.
Blyth and Ready Teddy’s chances were shattered by a disastrous dressage, with Teddy upset by the boisterous crowd: ‘He just goes in there and freaks!’ said Blyth afterwards.
Kallista was 56th on Jamahl in the dressage, scoring 61.88%, and Brian Tiffen was 35th in endurance on Daintree Pagan, with Paul Jeffrey and Rahn not far behind in 40th. Madonna and John’s horses both vetted out lame.
Best of the rest at the 2002 WEG
The team show jumping was a dazzling display from four French-bred stallions: Eric Levallois with Diamant de Semilly Ecolit, Reynald Angot with Tlaloc M, Gilles Bertran de Balanda with Crocus Graverie and Eric Navet with Dollar du Murier produced stunning performances to pin Sweden into silver while Belgium took team bronze.
Eric added two more World Championship medals to the four already sitting in his trophy cabinet when also taking individual silver, while Sweden’s Helena Lundback became only the second woman to earn a place in the horse-change Final Four with her mare Mynta.
The ability to adapt to an unknown horse, or at least not interfere with it, has always been key to the success in the final-four WEG clash, and quiet farmer’s son Dermot Lennon made Irish history when he was the only one to keep a clean sheet with all four horses to claim the individual gold, while the USA’s Peter Wylde took bronze.
Kiwi Samantha McIntosh, riding for Bulgaria, finished 11th on Hildon Fleche Rouge SF.
A flamboyant chestnut, Farbenfroh, burst into the dressage spotlight with Nadine Capellmann, taking individual gold for Germany, and it was no surprise that Germany also claimed team gold, while the USA filled the second step of the podium for the first time.
But in a very new development for the sport, the home side from Spain won the bronze, with their leading rider, Beatriz Ferrer-Salat taking individual silver with Beauvalais.
Germany’s Ulla Salzgeber took home bronze with Rusty.
In the eventing, the gold medal was a long time coming for Team USA, who’d last had World Championship success in 1974. Only six of the 13 participating nations finished the competition, and only two of them with full teams, including the bronze medallists from Great Britain. France took home team silver, anchored by a performance by individual gold medallist Jean Teulere and his brilliant Espoir de la Mare.
Individual silver went to Jeannette Brakewell and Over to You (GBR) while the lone Finnish contender Pia Pantsu put her nation on the medal table with individual bronze on Ypaja Karuso.
Endurance was an unmitigated disaster, in appalling conditions, with two horses dying of fatigue and metabolic failure. The gold medal was won by a 16-year-old Sheik Ahmed Al Maktoum, representing the United Arab Emirates, while the team gold went to France, with Italy in silver and Australia in bronze.
2002 Jerez WEG facts & figures:
A total of 48 countries participated in the 2002 FEI World Equestrian Games.
- Jumping 97 participants (37 countries)
- Dressage 65 participants (24 countries)
- Eventing 80 participants (21 countries)
- Driving 43 participants (17 countries)
- Endurance 150 participants (36 countries)
- Reining 49 participants (11 countries)
- Vaulting 47 female vaulters (19 countries) & 30 male vaulters (16 countries)
Countries participating for the first time: Colombia, Guatemala, India, Jordan, the Philippines, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Uruguay
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More stories in this issue:
- Preparing for jump-offs
- Dealing with brain injury
- Reinventing the Kaimanawas
- At home with Chloe Phillips-Harris
- Healthy eating strategies for riders
- Jumping masterclass: finding a distance