WEG 2010: Eventing – The “coulda, woulda, shoulda’s”

Team GBR | World Class

I have finally calmed down having watched the highlights again (more than once). Did I mention WE WON the World Equestrian Games! (and William Fox-Pitt took home a Silver Medal too). I have to admit, after the dressage, I was a little concerned that Team GBR would be left fighting tooth and nail to get a Bronze by the end of Sunday, but this WEG really have proved to be a well balanced 3 day event with just the right amount of influence between the phases, although it does prove the dressage is still the phase separating the best from the very best. Possibly not the most ideal situation given it’s the most subjective phase. I really liked the cross country course, despite the very Burghley-Badminton feel, and the show jumping produced probably the biggest stadium audience the sport has seen for sometime. All in all a cracking competition……

A Few Were Surprised At The Results

By now, the Germans are probably recalling their 2003 Punchestown defeat, although they have qualified for London 2012 having come fifth at WEG, so I’m sure their depression will be short lived, and they’re probably all down at Michael Jung’s pad, learning from the new Jedi Master of Eventing. I personally haven’t written off the Germans, but I am still scratching my head over Andreas Dibowski’s double stop at the ditch, which was a far less imposing ditch than at even many lower level events. Now that has got to have kept a few in the German team up at night.

Almost immediately after the medal ceremonies the USA seemed to go to war with itself over what coulda, woulda, shoulda been ‘their’ WEG to capture a medal and on home soil, which is a shame really, because the Americans, not unlike the Australians or New Zealanders, have a good talent pool, they just struggle with the level of competition domestically required to support and nurture medal winning talent, hence the number of Aussies & Kiwis based in Europe.

The Australians must be crying in their soup, and who can blame them, what rotten luck. First, they suffer the most arduous travel plans for horses I’ve seen in a very long time, which loses them one of the team horses on route. Then they lose their Badminton winner (Paul Tapner – Inonothing) half way round the cross country course due to injury (fractured stifle), followed swiftly by Sam Griffiths on Happy Times in an uncharacteristically wobbly round culminating in a fall at the corner wall. And finally the withdrawal of Ringwould Jaguar due to injury. I wouldn’t have wanted to sit next to Wayne Roycroft on the flight home.

Many other nations also had their ups and downs, including the Swedish, who started so well, and fell apart on Cross Country, along with the French and the South Africans, who had gone to a lot of trouble to fund their own way to WEG.

Andrew Nicholson | Double Bronze Medal Winner

It would be remiss of me if I neglected to mention the silver & bronze medalists, Canada & New Zealand. Overall the Canadians rode a double ordinary dressage round, but produced one of the best overall performances on the cross country and in the show jumping, taking them, I believe, very close to being able to repeat a medal win even with with the Germans & Australians in the frame. As for the New Zealanders, all there is to say about them is, they are great! Anything else worth saying, I’ve said before.

So much has happened during these World Equestrian Games, from organisational dramas, to over enthusiastic volunteers, not to mention the extraordinary competition we have witnessed. There’s a Jilly Cooper novel in there somewhere I’m sure. More on some of this later, once we see the full extent of the fallout.

And in case you thought it was all over, you’re mistaken. The games have continued throughout this week, including my other favourite discipline, the carriage driving. Watching 4 horses hare round the cross country marathon navigating the most unfathomable obstacles (“gates”) is just a joy. If you’ve never seen this, or tried it, I recommend both, it pretty exhilarating. The Marathon is on Saturday, and you can catch it on Eurosport UK (for those in the UK). If you needed an excuse to watch any of the remaining competitions; the Brits currently head the over all medal table, so get involved.

Drawing the curtains on this WEG will sadly mean the end of the WEG 2010 Radio Show. There have been many attempts to bring equestrian themed radio shows and podcasts to the audience, and where most have failed this show has been been triumphant, with an eclectic mix of content, news, views and interviews with the humour and banter you usually only find in main stream radio. You can see what I previously had to say about the show here. Before this show gets archived I recommend you tune in.

And so as the trees start to loose their leaves, we oil up the clippers, and break out the thermal undies, this can only mean the eventing season is drawing to a close, and it’s time to plan for next year and London 2012.

More on all this very soon.

Amateur event rider, aspiring photographer. Technologist by day.