Germany won the eventing team gold after a superlative showjumping performance, while William Fox-Pitt won bronze after one rail cost him individual gold.
It’s well known that Michael Jung has showjumped at Grand Prix level and has a brilliant record in this phase in pure eventing. Today was no exception, while his team mates were just as good, with Dirk Schrade, Ingrid Klimke and eventual individual gold medallist Sandra Auffarth all producing perfect clear rounds.
With Michael and then Sandra both jumping clear, it put the pressure on the last rider to go, Britain’s William Fox-Pitt. William was tantalisingly close to winning his first individual gold medal, and he rode into the packed Stadium D’Ornano on his stallion Chilli Morning with every British eventing supporter willing him on, but it was not to be. Fence number two fell and now he had to jump clear to stay in the medals.
Lesser riders may have fallen to pieces at this point, but William kept a cool head and left every other fence standing to win bronze.
“It’s frustrating to have a fence down. I’m lucky that Chilli didn’t have two,” William said.
Germany had gone into the final phase with more than two showjumps in hand over their British rivals. But in the end, the German team finished with a hefty lead – winning by almost 21pen.
“I never dreamed that we could be double World Champions,” said a modest Auffarth. “This is amazing and unbelievable.”
Sole British clear
Britain’s bid for a team medal started off well, with Zara Phillips and High Kingdom delivering a superb clear to finish in 11th place.
But Tina Cook’s ride De Novo News found the atmosphere a little overwhelming and knocked two fences down to drop to 16th. But it was still good enough to win the team silver, which meant Harry Meade – who lost his WEG horse yesterday after the cross-country – was able to collect his team medal along with Tina, Zara and William.
The gap for Germany had opened even wider, not that they needed the breathing space. They took the gold, Britain won silver and The Netherlands moved up from fifth to take bronze.
The host nation finished just out of the medals in fourth, while the Australians dropped from third to fifth. All five have secured qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympics, as has Ireland who finished up sixth.
Britain’s individual rider Nicola Wilson also had a tumultuous ride on the four-star debutante Annie Clover. The pair ended up with 20pen after several poles fell and a refusal at the last fence also added to their tally and led to a further 8 time penalties.
It dropped them from 12th to 25th, but this weekend the mare has proved herself as one to watch for the future.
The course proved to be a good test to bring the eventing championships to a close. Out of 59 starters, only 13 jumped clear within the time. There was one fall, from Russia’s Igor Atrokhov’s, while Ireland’s Sam Watson managed to stay on board after his horse missed the stride and refused, sending his rider right up his neck.