The New Zealander eventing team didn’t manage a podium placing but did salvage a qualification for the 2020 Olympics at the World Equestrian Games at Tryon. It was a huge day for Great Britain, who not only won the team gold with the lowest-ever team score at a WEG, but Ros Canter won individual gold medal as well, on Allstar B.
“I don’t think it has hit home yet,” Ros says. “It was quite a shock and there were quite a few tears, which is not normal for me. It is just absolutely incredible, not just for me but the whole of the support team behind me and the whole team.”
It was a nail-biting finish, as Ingrid Klimke and SAP Hale Bob OLD had to jump clear to win the title, and it was oh-so-close, but the last rail on the last jump came down. The German pair slipped down to bronze. “If someone would have told me I’d come here before and win individual bronze, I would have been very happy,” Ingrid says. “At the last rail, I was disappointed, but it was our only mistake.
Padraig McCarthy on the wonderful Mr Chunky secured the silver medal with a lovely clear round, the first individual WEG medal for Ireland since 1978.
Veteran Australian rider, Andrew Hoy, had a wonderful competition with his young horse, Vassily de Lassos, to finish fourth.
The team silver went to the Irish, who hadn’t won a World Championships team medal for over 50 years – their last was team gold in 1966 – and they were understandably over the moon about it.
The French took the bronze medal and the Japanese team were ecstatic to finish in fourth place; it’s the best result a Japanese equestrian team has had at any Olympic Games or World Championship EVER in ANY discipline.
Chef d’équipe Shibeyuki Hosono says having the riders based in Europe has made all the difference. Yoshiaki Oiwa has been in training with Dirk Schrade in Germany while Kasuma Tomoto is based with William Fox-Pitt, and Angela Tucker is mentoring both Toshiyuki Tanaka and Ryuzo Kitajima in the UK. “The help of the three trainers has been instrumental for our program,” said Shibeyuki through an interpreter.
“We have been working a long time towards this moment.”
Yoshiaki Oiwa, who was 20th on Calle 44, is excited about being part of a home Olympics in 2020. “This is something once in your life, so I am very much looking forward.”
Germany had to settle for fifth place ahead of Australia, with New Zealand coming in seventh place. It was the top six at WEG who qualified for the Olympics, but because Japan automatically qualifies as host nation, New Zealand was able to sneak in ahead of USA and Sweden.
Tim Price was the best placed New Zealander, finishing eighth with Cekatinka. It could have been a silver medal, but a rail put paid to that dream.
Tim will now pass the little mare back to Jonelle. “She is Jonelle’s horse, I just borrowed her. She really suits her, and she has already had the time with her. I’m too big for her, so Jonelle can go back in the picture and it will be much more in balance,” said Tim.
Tim appreciated having a nicer day today to show jump in, after this phase was delayed for 24 hours. “Today was a much nicer day weather-wise but no, I don’t think it affected my horse’s performance,” he said. “She would have come out yesterday fighting for the job as well, and maybe others would beg to differ… if they had stiffness and soreness it may have worked in their favour. But me personally, no I don’t think it made any difference.”
Tim was quick to congratulate the British team and Ros. “It was a fantastic result, the Brits deserved it. Ros produced Cekatinka as a youngster and she does a great job with young horses, she is very well known for that. This is elevating herself to a whole new level though. Congratulations to her, she deserved every bit. She rode with such a calmness about her in all the phases.”
Tim said he was feeling a bit melancholy about what could have been. Jonelle had been in the same situation at the last WEG in France, when a rail cost her the bronze.
But the couple are not going to dwell too much on it as they prepare to head back home to see their son Otis and then on to their next event. “I am going to an event with the novices in about four days’ time,” said Tim. “Then on from there we have Boekelo and Pau and then back to Puhinui in New Zealand. We are not competing there, just going to go and catch up with some old friends and enjoy being back home.
Last time Tim came to Puhinui, he was a star in the tip, strip and out, and ended up jumping a large fence, bareback and shirtless, and he says if there is a similar challenge on, he will be up for it!
Jonelle says she is “gutted” for Tim. “I thought he jumped a beautiful round with just one tiny mistake. It would have been nice to have bought that one home.”
Jonelle and Classic Moet had two rails down, one with only the lightest of touches, to finish 19th. “I am happy enough with my mare, she can have one down, but probably shouldn’t have had two. I didn’t even know I had hit that one to be honest.”
She’s glad that the team was at least able to salvage Olympic qualification for their efforts. “It wasn’t the result we wanted, but at least we don’t have to spend the next two years fighting it out for a qualification. I think we need to make a focus on getting some new blood through from New Zealand. It would be nice to have some of the next generation stepping up. We can’t rely on these guys forever.”
When asked if she was giving us a hint that Sir Mark Todd may be retiring, she was quick to deny it. “I am not hinting that, but it would be nice to have a few more standing come final selection day I guess.”
As to the man himself, Sir Mark Todd had a four-fault show jumping round on McClaren, and a final total of 73, putting him in 57th position. He’s happy with his relatively-inexperienced horse. “He is a super little jumper. He has never been in an arena with an atmosphere like that. I have never had to ride him quite so hard, as he was looking and backing off. The fence he had down he just got a little bit distracted with something on the right of the jump and moved left, which was a shame. He is a fabulous little jumper and very careful. He would have learned a lot from this week.”
As to the extra day between cross-country and show jumping, Sir Mark wasn’t sure if it had any effect. “He came out this morning and felt good and was quite fresh. Yesterday I just rode him for a little bit to loosen him up and make sure he wasn’t too stiff, but he felt good. I didn’t want to do too much, I wanted to keep him fresh. He has come out today and has tried really hard.”
After he gets home, McClaren will have a holiday. “We will have to see what happens after that. We will work on his dressage over winter and get those changes nailed. He has the potential to do a really smart test, and we will just see what we are going to do next year, and make a plan a bit later.”
Now for the question Sir Mark gets asked at every championship, will he be hanging up his spurs again? Will we expect to see him in Japan for the Olympics. “Well, he [McClaren] might be.” And Sir Mark? “We will see.”
He went on to say that he needed to go home and think about what he wants to do next. “I’ve got two or three very good horses at the moment, and I am enjoying riding them, so whether I just keep going with a smaller string… I am just not sure yet.”
He expressed some concern about where the sport is heading, which may be a hint that perhaps this might be his last championship.
“Statistics will show that they have never had so many clear rounds, and clear rounds within the time, at a World Championship before. Was it a true test? I don’t know. Is this the way the sport is going, making it less difficult? I don’t know.”
Sir Mark also explained how he selected McClaren for this event. “I have four four-star horses but unfortunately, Campino wasn’t qualified as he didn’t finish a three-day event at the end of last year, and then he had to have an operation at the beginning of this year. Leonidas ended up having a physical problem, so he was ruled out with that. Hopefully, he will be back next year. Then it came down to Kiltubrid Rhapsody or this one, McClaren. Although this one is less experienced, we just felt that he was probably more suited to the conditions. We were told about the hill, and the other horse hasn’t got much thoroughbred so we thought he might struggle a bit more here, especially if it was a bit hot.”
We also took the chance to ask Sir Mark about Burghley, when he was in the lead after dressage on Kiltrubrid Rhapsody, but had a fall at what was said to be one of the easier jumps on the course. “Burghley was a bummer,” he says. “I don’t really know what happened. He misread it slightly, we were a little bit off it, and he went to pick up, changed his mind, and then realised he couldn’t but by then it was all too late. He came down, a proper one. Probably just as well you didn’t see it [on TV].”
New Zealand’s individual rider Dan Jocelyn finished 38th on Grovine de Reve, after taking two rails in the show jumping, finishing on a final score of 54. He is taking a lot of positives out of the experience, though was disappointed to have two rails. “He is a really nice jumper, he has jumped well all season and very rarely has a rail down.”
“It was a lovely course and a lovely atmosphere. I love jumping big tracks and that was a big track. It was a little disappointing; he did personal bests in the first two phases and could have easily done the same in this one.”
Dan would like to bring Grovine de Reve back to the US to contest the Kentucky four-star, and believes he could also take him to the Tokyo Olympics. He also has the promising Blackthorne Cruise, who he plans to ride at Boekelo and possibly also Kentucky, while Dassett Cool Touch will be aimed at Badminton.
The team now head back to the UK tomorrow, after hasty travel changes as they were originally due to fly out today. The horses fly out tomorrow as scheduled, and will no doubt be looking forward to getting back to their paddocks.
||Dressage||Rank after D||XC||Rank after XC||Final Score|
Final Top 20
|Dressage||XC||SJ||Final Score||Prize money|
|1||Allstar B||Rosalind Canter||GBR||24.6||0||0||24.6||USD54,000|
|2||Mr Chunky||Padraig McCarthy||IRL||27.2||0||0||27.2||USD30,000|
|3||SAP Hale Bob OLD||Ingrid Klimke||GER||23.3||0||4||27.3||USD 22,000|
|4||Vassily de Lassos||Andrew Hoy||AUS||29.8||0||0||29.8||USD15,000|
|5||Horseware Stellor Rebound||Sarah Ennis||IRL||26.3||0||4||30.3||USD10,000|
|6||Qing du Briot Ene HH||Thibaut Vallette Lt Col||FRA||25.6||1.2||4||30.8||USD7,000|
|7||Vinci de la Vigne||Astier Nicolas||FRA||27.2||0||4||31.2||USD5,000|
|9||Billy the Red||Kristina Cook||GBR||29.1||2.4||0||31.5||USD2,500|
|10||Quarrycrest Echo||Piggy French||GBR||27.8||0||4||31.8||USD2,500|
|11||Opium de Verrieres||Maxime Livio||FRA||30.1||2||0||32.1||USD1,500|
|12||Toledo de Kerser||Tom McEwen||GBR||28.4||0||4||32.4||USD1,500|
|14||Horseware Ardagh Highlight||Sam Watson||IRL||35.5||0||0||35.5||USD800|
|15||Talma d’Allou||Toshiyuki Tanaka||JPN||33.7||0.8||1||35.5||USD700|
|16||Rumour Has It N.O.P.||Merel Blom||NED||31.6||0||4||35.6||USD600|
|17||Fletcha van ‘t Verahof||Karin Donckers||BEL||27.6||8||0||35.6||USD600|
|18||Tresor Mail||Sidney Dufresne||FRA||28.9||4||4||36.9||USD600|
|19||Classic Moet||Jonelle Price||NZL||30||0||8||38||USD600|
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