USA has won team gold in the showjumping at the World Equestrian Games in front of an ecstatic home crowd.
It was an epic battle on the final day of the team event, and nothing came easy. Team USA were chased all the way to the line by a brilliant Swedish side that took silver, while Germany claimed bronze.
“It was unbelievable!” said USA’s chef d’equipe Robert Ridland. “First off, the odds were miniscule that there would be a jump-off for first place – it wasn’t what we were looking for. But the sport doesn’t get any better than this!”
It was a roller-coaster ride from start to finish. The Swedish team were lying fourth on the final day, but added nothing to their previous day’s score, when Henrik von Eckermann (Toveks Mary Lou), Malin Baryard-Johnsson (H&M Indiana) and Fredrik Jonsson (Cold Play) posted three brilliant clears.
American hopes were high, but the result was hanging in the balance, right to the very end. Devin Ryan was first to go with Eddie Blue and had one down, while Adrienne Sternlicht and Cristalline picked up five faults, which put the Swedes out front. However, Laura Kraut rode to the rescue, steering Zeremonie home with a clean sheet to a great roar from the crowd.
If McLain Ward could produce another clear the job was done, and the gold would go to America. But the Olympic double-gold medallist faulted at fence seven and suddenly everything changed again.
The USA and Sweden were tied on 20.59 penalties, which meant the medals would be decided with a jump-off. Both teams produced three clear rounds against the clock, but it was McLain’s fast round that saw USA claim gold.
Britain finished a disappointing eighth place, despite some great performances. William Funnell (Billy Buckingham) took on the role of pathfinder, however he finished on 13 penalties to become the drop score.
“It’s the fourth day that they’ve been jumping and he’s a big horse but it’s the same for everybody,” said William. “It would have been nice to finish on a better note, but I am still pleased with him. He was only back a couple of weeks before Hickstead earlier this season, so this is only his sixth or seventh show so it’s all come quite quick for him, but he’s had a good year.”
The female riders raised the hopes of the British supporters, when Holly Smith (Hearts Destiny) picked up a single time fault and Amanda Derbyshire (Luibanta BH) jumped clear.
However, William Whitaker (Utamaro d’Ecaussines) had two down, which meant Britain slipped from sixth to eighth place – and have missed out on qualifying for Tokyo 2020.
The next chance to qualify for the Olympics are the European Championships next year in Rotterdam, followed by the 2019 Nations Cup Final in Barcelona.
Amanda’s clear with Luibanta BH has seen her rise up the league table to sit in 15th place and qualify for the Individual Final on Sunday.
You can watch all the action from WEG on Horse & Country in our daily review show. We also have coverage of all the Olympic and non-Olympic disciplines.
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