With definite entries now confirmed, all eyes are turning to Pratoni del Vivaro in Italy where the FEI Eventing World Championship 2022 will kick off with the draw for order-of-go next Tuesday, 13 September. This will be the 15th edition of the battle for the world titles in this exciting equestrian sport, and the buzz in the lead-up is electrifying.
Great Britain has by far the best record during the 56 years since the inaugural Championship was staged on home ground at Burghley (GBR) in 1966, with five Team and five Individual titles to their credit including double-gold at the last Championship in Tryon, USA four years ago.
And they arrive at this year’s fixture with the three horse/rider combinations that clinched Olympic team gold for their country for the first time in 49 years at the Tokyo 2020 Games last summer – Laura Collett riding London 52, world number one Oliver Townend with Ballaghmor Class and Tom McEwen who also claimed individual silver with Toledo de Kerser. Add in 2018 Individual World Champion and current world number five Ros Canter who will defend her title this time around with Lordships Graffalo, and Yasmin Ingham with Banzai du Loir, and they look a truly formidable force.
They were untouchable at the FEI Eventing European Championship 2021 in Avenches, Switzerland where they swept all before them when taking the team title and all the individual medals, but a total of 90 riders from 27 different countries will descend on the beautiful venue in Pratoni over the next few days, each carrying their own hopes and dreams.
And with 16 nations chasing one of the seven team qualifying spots on offer for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games along with the coveted world titles, the competition is guaranteed to be gripping from start to finish.
Australia took team silver in Japan last summer where their headline-grabbers were Andrew Hoy and Vassily de Lassos who also claimed individual bronze. Hoy has carefully campaigned his 13-year-old gelding over the last 12 months with Pratoni in mind.
At 63 years of age he’s a veteran of eight Olympic Games during which he won three team gold medals, and at the last World Championships he finished just off the podium, in fourth place individually, with this same horse. He is joined in his country’s strong side by Tokyo team-mates Kevin McNab with Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam and Shane Rose partnering Virgil, while Shanae Lowings (Bold Venture) and Hazel Shannon (Willingapark Clifford) complete the line-up.
Team bronze in Tokyo went to the French who field just one of their partnerships from that side this time around – Nicolas Touzaint and Absolut Gold HDC who finished individually sixth. Thomas Carlile (Darmagnac de Beliard), Cyrielle Lefevre (Armanjo Serosah), Gaspard Maksud (Zaragoza) and Astier Nicolas (Alertamalib’Or) complete their selection, and they can fully focus on their world title aspirations because, as host country, France is automatically qualified for Paris 2024. The French have never won the World team title, but Jean Teulere was Individual champion with Espoir de la Mare in 2002.
Meanwhile they’ll all have to watch out for Team Germany. They finished fourth in Tokyo and send out three of the same horses and riders including reigning Olympic Individual champions Julia Krajewski and Amande de B’Neville, 2014 World Champion Sandra Auffarth with Viamant du Matz and gold-medal-magnet Michael Jung who claimed the individual World title in 2010 and who will partner Fischerchipmunk FRH. Christoph Wahler (Carjatan S) and Alina Dibowski (Barbados 28) round up the German selection.
And of course Team New Zealand will also be on the prowl. Their impressive World Championship record includes two team golds along with three individual titles, two of the latter secured by the brilliant Blyth Tait who did the double in 1998. They can never be taken for granted and just over a week after clinching third and fourth places respectively at the CCI5* Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials the extraordinary husband-and-wife team of Tim and Jonelle Price – third and fourth in the latest world rankings – will saddle up two new horses, Falco and McClaren, to fly the flag alongside Clarke Johnstone (Menlo Park), Monica Spencer (Artist) and Amanda Pottinger (Just Kidding).
Pratoni del Vivaro, or the Impianto Sportivo Equestre di Rocca di Papa which is located in the Castelli Romani Park in the hills to the south east of Rome, has hosted many world-class fixtures down the years and is recognised for its hilly terrain. Horses, and their riders, need to be at maximum fitness to cope with the rolling contours of the track which is complemented by a superb surface on volcanic soil.
It has been a particularly memorable venue in the history of Eventing for Australia and New Zealand for very different reasons.
At the Rome Olympic Games in 1960 the Australian side of Larry Morgan, Neale Lavis, Brian Crago and Bill Roycroft went way ahead of the rest of the field on cross-country day despite a fall for Roycroft that put him in hospital with a broken collarbone. The rules were very different in those times and elimination was only inevitable after a fourth fall on course.
Roll on the final day of jumping and Crago’s potential silver medal winning ride, Sabre, didn’t pass the final horse inspection so suddenly Australia now had no team. There was only one solution, so Roycroft was scooped out of his hospital bed and the 45-year-old rider steered Our Solo to a clear round and Olympic team gold!
It was 38 years later when the Italian Equestrian Federation, FISE, performed something little short of a miracle when stepping in to rescue the 1998 FEI World Equestrian Games™ after Ireland pulled out very late in the day. The Italians did themselves proud with a brilliant edition that brought widespread praise for sheer determination to make it happen.
Eventing again took place in Pratoni but the weather-gods were not kind on cross-country day when torrential rain led to slippery conditions on the normally ideal footing.
However the remarkable jumping consistency of New Zealand’s Blyth Tait and Ready Teddy, Mark Todd on Broadcast News and Vaughn Jefferis on Bounce took them into the lead with three clears of the course within the time, their single disappointment beings five refusals from Sally Clark’s Squirrel Hill. For the second time in his career Tait went on to take team and individual gold.
The sport of Eventing is always thrilling, so from 14 to 18 September follow every moment of the FEI Eventing World Championship 2022 and don’t miss a hoofbeat…..
Facts and Figures:
- 27 nations represented – Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Thailand and USA.
- Teams from 16 nations – Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and USA.
- 7 team qualifying spots on offer for Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The host nation (France) is automatically qualified.
- Great Britain’s Ros Canter will defend the Individual title she won in Tryon USA in 2018 where she was also a member of the gold-medal-winning British team.
- Teams consist of three or four horse/rider combinations with the best three scores counting towards the final result.
- The lowest age limit for horses is 8 years.
- In the cross-country phase, the penalty for exceeding the optimum time set by course designer Giuseppe della Chiesa is 0.4 per second. The time limit is twice the optimum time.
- Course designer for the final Jumping phase is Italy’s Uliano Vezzani.
- The winning individual and team will be those completing all three phases – Dressage, Cross-Country and Jumping – with the lowest total of penalties.
Definite entries here