Eventing fans at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 were treated to one of the thrilling afternoons of sport as four days of compelling competition came down to the very final show jumping fence.
Ultimately, it was Great Britain’s Rosalind Canter, riding Allstar B, who proved to be the star of a spectacular show with her double clear round proving critical in securing her individual gold and giving Great Britain the world title, to go with their 2017 European crown.
Ireland, led by individual silver medallist Padraig McCarthy, broke records all over the place. The country’s team silver was their first team medal at a world championships since the inaugural event in 1966, while McCarthy’s individual success was the nation’s first since John Watson – father of current team member Sam Watson – finished second 40 years ago.
“There were quite a few tears which really isn’t very normal for me. It’s absolutely incredible,” said Canter, who entered the arena with Team GB just 0.20 points ahead of Ireland, after poles down for both Tom McEwen and Piggy French. “In the back of my mind I did know (the team situation) but I was just focused on my horse and my warm-up. You have to try and block that out.”
Canter, who won European team gold with Great Britain in 2017, was quick to praise legendary eventing coach Chris Bartle, emphasising how the 66 year old has made her “less intense” since he joined the team at the end of 2016.
Ireland, who had started the day a significant 8.20 points behind the British, were in rampant form throughout, highlighted by the confident McCarthy on Mr Chunky.
“In a previous life I used to be a show jumper, so it gave me a lot of confidence,”McCarthy said, before confirming medals have long been on his mind. “I have dreamt about it for the last six months, at least. With a horse like this you have to dream big.”
With joy for some came heartache for others. Germany’s Ingrid Klimke seemed destined to add the ultimate sparkle to her glittering career with a first ever individual world championship gold right up until the moment she and mount SAP Hale Bob OLD flicked the last fence and handed the glory to Canter.
“If somebody had told me before I would come here and get individual bronze I would have been very happy,” said the WEG 2014 team gold medallist. “It was very close, last fence, last rail, for sure the first moment I was disappointed but it was the only mistake that we did on the whole weekend.”
Reigning Olympic team champions France took team bronze, although their celebrations were tinged with regret as Lieutenant Colonel Thibaut Vallette and Astier Nicolas, lying fourth and fifth respectively after the cross country, both knocked a pole down to ruin hopes of climbing onto the individual podium.
Team Japan produced a stunning display to finish fourth overall, suggesting that the home nation could be one to watch come the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.