Britain bounced up the order to qualify for the final round of the team competition at the World Equestrian Games [WEG] in Tryon, leaping up from day one’s 16th place to ninth. Ireland are also in the mix, currently standing in sixth place while Switzerland maintained their position at the top.
Pathfinder William Funnell – clear on day one – came home on five faults with the home-bred 10-year-old Billy Buckingham. The pair started well over course-designer Alan Wade’s technical track – only five clears from 122 starters were recorded – but were unlucky to put a toe in the water and collect one time penalty.
“I didn’t envisage I was anywhere near the water but apparently he just put one foot back, so that was disappointing but I was really pleased with the horse,” said William. “It’s his first championships; I thought he jumped well, the time was always tight, but I wouldn’t have changed too much. It’s a tough course, it’s technical, but he’s a big jumper and he proved today he can do it.”
Amanda Derbyshire also returned on five faults and was another to be caught out by the water, the Luidam 10-year-old Luibanta BH landing on the tape.
“I didn’t think I had a foot in the water, I thought I rode it as good as I could do, but maybe yesterday was in the back of my mind a little bit [standing off a stride early] to not get her too close. I couldn’t have been prouder of how she jumped in there – she’s a little horse and that’s a big track.”
Holly Smith with Hearts Destiny and William Whitaker aboard Utamaro D Ecaussines both finished on eight faults apiece.
“I thought he [Hearts Destiny] was absolutely foot perfect until he had his mistakes, where we tried to keep in the time. He’s got loads of raw talent but he’s still a little inexperienced so there’s still a bit to work to do,” said Holly. “We always try to aim for a clear round so I am little bit disappointed that we didn’t achieve that but I think the horse showed his class in the ring and had a good experience in there.”
Anchor William was disappointed with two rails down in the latter half of the course.
“He was jumping well and really trying. The course is tough but it’s what you’d expect [for a World Championships], but it’s still disappointing. It's a fantastic experience to be here, it’s what we work every day for, but we want to come here and win a medal, it’s not over yet; all the horses jumped really good rounds today.”
Australia also made the cut and sit one place above Britain in seventh. British-based Rowan Willis – third individually on day one – finished on eight faults this time out with the 12-year-old Blue Movie.
Cian O’Connor’s clear round on Good Luck helped Ireland to sixth place. Shane Sweetnam finished on nine with Chaqui Z and Paul O’Shea returned on eight aboard Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu. British-based Shane Breen had a disappointing round on Ipswich Van De Wolfsakker for 14 faults and the drop score.
The top 10 go forward to Friday’s final team competition to decide the medals. Switzerland sit in the gold medal position on 11.64 penalties. However, less than two fences separate the medal positions. The USA are just 0.95 points away with Germany sitting in the bronze position are a further 5.50 points behind.
Britain is on 31.04 penalty points, 12.95 away from a medal position, but are less than a fence [3.92] off an Olympic qualifying place. The top six gain qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Also in the top ten are The Netherlands, France and Canada.
Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca sits in the pole position for the individual medals on Irenice Horta on 1.19 points. The USA’s McLain Ward and the big-jumping Clinta is in silver on 2.08 and Sweden’s Peder Fredricson is currently in the bronze position with H&M Christian K on 2.16. Cian is fifth with Good Luck (2.69), Rowan is 22nd (8.31) while best Brit is Amanda Derbyshire in 25th on 9.48.
Photos © Jon Stroud Media/BEF