Horses and riders familiarised themselves with the US Trust Arena at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon, USA today ahead of the much-anticipated Bank of America Jumping Championships. Team and individual medals are up for grabs along with coveted qualifying spots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games over the coming days. And following the draw which took place this evening it was Team Ireland that will be first into the US Trust Arena with Shane Sweetnam and Chaqui Z leading the way.

Leading the way for Canada, Erynn Ballard and Darkos Promise are 14th in the order, followed by Cara Chad and Carona in 44th, Mario Deslaurier and Bardolina 2 in 81st, and Eric Lamaze and Chacco Kid in 107th as Canada’s anchors.

For the number-crunchers here are a few:

3 competitions, 2 sets of medals

49 Nations: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Korea, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Sweden, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, Taipei, Thailand, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela.

25 teams – 2 (Hungary and Venezuela) with just 3 team members

How it will play out: A draw decides the starting order, and Wednesday’s first competition is judged on speed with no jump-off in the case of equality for first place. There will be 12 to 14 obstacles including one double, one treble or three doubles. The score of each athlete is converted into penalties.

The scores of the best three from each team in the first competition, and in each round of the second competiton, count toward the team placings. And the total penalties of each athlete count towards their individual ranking.

A new draw takes place to decide the starting order for the second competition which takes place over two rounds on Thursday and Friday. This time there will be a jump-off against the clock if teams are tied for first place, and only the top 10 nations will go through to Friday’s team medal-decider.

Sunday’s Individual Final is open to the top 25, with riders starting in reverse order of merit. This is a two-round competition over two different courses with approximately the same number of fences but a greater degree of difficulty in the second round, and a jump-off will only take place in case of equality of penalties for first place.

With the startlist including 8 of top 10 riders in the Longines rankings, and all of the top 5 – The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders, America’s Mclain Ward, Germany’s Marcus Ehning, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and Canada’s Eric Lamaze – the battle for individual glory is guaranteed to be a mighty one. World No 7 Peder Fredricson, who claimed individual silver at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and is reigning European champion, will lead the Swedish team while World no 9, Steve Guerdat who claimed individual gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games, will be anchoring the Swiss side. Rounding up the representatives from the world’s top 10 is French star Kevin Staut.

The Irish are the reigning European champions and under the management of Brazilian ace Rodrigo Pessoa are expected to be highly competitive despite the fact that only two of the combinations that clinched gold in Gothenburg (SWE) last summer will be in action this week. France, USA and Germany topped the Olympic podium in Rio de Janeiro (BRA) two years ago but it was the Dutch who claimed all gold in Jumping at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ at Caen in Normandy (FRA) four years ago.

Competition this week runs from 09.00 through to 17.00 on Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 September, while the top-10 teams will battle it out on Friday afternoon starting at 13.30. Sunday’s finale is scheduled to begin at 09.45, and just a few hours later the 2018 individual world champion will be crowned. It’s going to be epic, don’t miss a hoofbeat!