Britain 1st, Canada 2nd, New Zealand 3rd in WEG Team Eventing, Germany Individual Champion

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Great Britain Eventing gold medal team © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Great Britain Eventing gold medal team © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

LEXINGTON, Kentucky, Oct. 3–The World Equestrian Games eventing team championships were a British Commonwealth affair Sunday, with Great Britain taking gold, Canada silver and New Zealand third while the individual gold went to Germany’s Michael Jung and La Biosthetique-Sam FBW. For Great Britain, it was their first time on the podium since 1994 and for New Zealand just 12 years ago. However, for Canada is was their first time on the podium since 1978.

Michael Jung and La Biosthetique-Sam FBW after clearing last jump to become WEG individual world champion. © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Michael Jung and La Biosthetique-Sam FBW after clearing last jump to become WEG individual world champion. © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Michael Jung and his 10-year-old Baden-Würtemburg gelding was the last combination to go as he was at the top of the leaderboard after the cross country on Saturday and went clean in jumping to finish on his dressage score. The United States was within a rail of overnight leader Great Britain when Karen O’Connor on Mandiba, the last American rider, had a refusal and two rails down to dash American hopes of a medal. The USA team finished fourth, while the top finishing American individual was Boyd Martin on Neville Bardos in 10th. The results mean that Canada, New Zealand, USA, Germany and Belgium qualified teams for the Olympics in London in 2012. Great Britain, as the host nation, is already qualified.

The look on Karen O'Connor's face says it all. © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
The look on Karen O'Connor's face says it all. © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Great Britain's eventing icon Mary King on Imperial Cavalier after a clear jumping round that helped her team to WEG gold. © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Great Britain's eventing icon Mary King on Imperial Cavalier after a clear jumping round that helped her team to WEG gold. © 2010 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

The weather turned a biting cold but the 25,000-seat stadium was nearly full of enthusiastic fans for the final phase of eventing that began last Thursday with two days of dressage and then the cross country on Saturday that many riders said was as tough as the Rolex Three-day at the Kentucky Horse Park, one of a handful of four-star events in the world. Attendance at Sunday’s WEG was 27,815 that includes gate passes which do not allow admission to any competition, compared with a crowd of 50,818 during Saturday cross-country competition.. Total attendance for the first nine days was 267,815, including gate passes, with seven more days to go of the WEG that has been held once every four years since 1990 and for the first time outside Europe. The games are the world championships of eight international disciplines, dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, reining, vaulting and para-dressage. The final of the eventing was nail-biting with the individual title undecided until Michael Jung’s ride as the last of the day and clear, while the team medals were not decided until Britain’s William Fox-Pitt ride on Cool Mountain as the penultimate round in which he went clear. In addition to securing the team gold for Britain, he was rewarded with individual silver. Asked what he thought of the German rider’s result he said: “Quite honestly it’s a case of Michael Jung – 1, the rest – nowhere! He’s so far ahead we’ve all got our work cut out for us for the next two years!” Despite the disappointment there was still cause for celebration in the O’Connor household as Karen’s husband David, a former multiple eventing champion and U.S. Equestrian Federation president was hailed the hero by the Canadian team which he trains. They put in another magnificent performance today, as they have done all weekend. First-line rider Kyle Carter on Madison Park picked up nine faults but both Selena O’Hanlon on Colombo and Hawley Bennett-Award on Gin & Juice produced foot-perfect runs and when Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch picked up just four faults with Port Authority they found themselves elevated to silver medal position. Kiwi legends Mark Todd on Grass Valley and Andrew Nicholson on Nereo clinched bronze when keeping a clean sheet after Caroline Powell and Mac MacDonald collected nine faults and Clarke Johnstone and Orient Express picked up 13.  It was an extraordinary achievement for Todd who retired from the sport in 2000 but returned for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and who is as competitive as ever at the age of 54.”The sport has changed a lot, and its taken me a while to adjust since I’ve come back,” he said and then, referring to gold medallist Michael Jung he added: “It may take a while to close the gap to this fellow down here, but we’re working on it!” Buck Davidson set the ball rolling for the USA who were lying in runner-up spot with just a single error from Ballynoe Castle. When fellow-American, Boyd Martin went clear with Neville Bardos a place on the podium seemed very much on the cards for the home side. But Philip Dutton and Woodburn hit the first element of the penultimate double and also picked up a time fault, so it fell to Karen O’Connor and Mandiba to save the day. Under intense pressure they entered the ring but the partnership was already looking vulnerable by the time they got to the oxer at fence five and, although they cleared the following triple bar, they missed their stride to the next fence, the gate, and Mandiba stopped, eventually crossing the finish line but carrying 12 faults which put paid to US chances. Team results:

1 GBR W. Fox-Pitt / M. King / N. Wilson / K. Cook 139.40
2 CAN S. Rhodes-Bosch / S. O’Hanlon / H. Bennett-Awad / K. Carter 151.50
3 NZL A. Nicholson / M. Todd / C. Powell / C. Johnstone 154.80
4 USA B. Martin / P. Dutton / K. O’Connor / B. Davidson Jr. 160.30
5 GER M. Jung / I. Klimke / A. Dibowski / D. Schrade 200.70
6 BEL K. Donckers / S. van Hasselt / L. de Liedekerke / C. van Rijckevorsel 227.10
7 IRL S. Watson / G. Curran / M. Kyle / P. Ryan 236.50
8 FRA P. Leroy / S. de Zuchowicz / A. Boiteau / D. Schauly MDL 245.70
9 JPN K. Sato / Y. Oiwa / T. Yumira / A. Negishi 334.10
10 SWE N. Jonsson / N. Lindbäck / L. Algotsson / K. Norling 1136.50
11 ITA S. Brecciaroli / S. Bordone / J. Garcia / M. Biasia 1145.50
12 BRA R. Fonseca / J. Sigfrid Martendal / G. de Faria / S. Fofanoff 1264.70
13 RSA M. Swanepoel / H. Wood / P. Hart / D. Welsh 1333.80
14 AUS S. Tinney / S. Johnson / S. Griffiths / P. Tapner 2047.60