Follow the fortunes of Jumping Team GBR at the World Equestrian Games™, Tyron...
September 19: Team Competition/ Individual Round 1
September 20: Team Competition Round 2/Individual Qualifier (Round 2)
September 21: Team Finals & Medal Ceremony
September 23: Individual Finals & Medal Ceremony
Showjumping Team GBR
William Whitaker with UTAMARO D'ECAUSSINES
Holly Smith with HEARTS DESTINY
William Funnell with BILLY BUCKINGHAM
Amanda Derbyshire with LUIBANTA BH
Alexandra Thornton with CORNETTO K
They had hoped that the insight and perspective they say parenthood has provided would give Eventing Team GBR's Tina Cook and Piggy French the edge over the field at the World Equestrian Games in Tyron last week - and so it proved to be becoming Team Gold Medalists.
Cook, 48, is one of the longest standing and most successful athletes in Britain, with 16 championship medals since her first appearance in 1987.
The 2012 Olympic silver medalist, who is a single mother of two children, Isabelle, 13, and Harry, 11, says there is crossover between her parenting and her horsemanship.
“You have to be sympathetic but black and white and you can't bully them," she told Reuters of her approach to her horses.
"They need to understand the difference between wrong and right. For each individual, there might be a different way of approaching that. It is the same for bringing up children."
Although there is a crossover in philosophy, she says compartmentalising her roles is the key to success.
"When I am competing in a dangerous sport I don't want to be thinking 'I hope the kids are ok'. When I am at home, I put my children first," she said.
Cook’s second pregnancy was physically and emotionally challenging after carrying twins full term before losing one.
Yet returning to her career gave a focus to Tina, who competed on Billy the Red at the WEG.
French's dream of a medal in the 2012 Olympics was foiled by injuries to her best horses.
“It was heartbreak for me,” the 38-year-old said. When another horse was injured weeks before the European Championships in 2013, French was ready to give up, saying she had lost her self-belief.
It was finding new love in partner Tom March and the birth of their son Max, which helped restore her passion for eventing.
“Tom was my rock through hard times then having a baby was the best thing that happened," she said. "I had hit rock bottom but since being a mother, I think 'what will be will be'.
"When I was young, I was hell-bent on that final result, you spend your life dreaming and then working towards that dream. I had stopped enjoying it but I have come back to it with a different head on.
"It has brought results because I am more relaxed."
Piggy's new-found and more relaxed approach saw her standing on the podium last Sunday when she competed on Quarrycrest Echo. She had, however, said that if things did not pan out, she would now better able to deal with disappointment.
“Tom and Max are my world. We have our little bubble and we are very happy in it," she said. "We just bundle along and do our thing and if some horses take us places then that is amazing.
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.