First British WEG eventing gold in 16 years

October 4, 2010

William-Fox-Pitt and Cool Mountain led the British team's charge to its first World Games gold eventing medal since 1994.


The British gold medal winning eventing team (L-R): Nicola Wilson, Kristina Cook, William Fox-Pitt and Mary King. © Peter Nixon/FEI
William Fox-Pitt interview


Canada's Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch and Port Authority on their way to team silver. © Cealy Tetley, www.tetleyphoto.com
Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch interview

Canada jumped to the team silver medal (151.5), just ahead of New Zealand (154.8) in the bronze-medal position. The United States finished fourth (160.3).

For Canada, it was also a welcome return to the podium, with the team not having won a medal at all since taking out the team gold medal at the 1978 World Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park.

"It's very hard to pinpoint one thing to mark our success," said Britain's Fox-Pitt. "I think we're very lucky back home to have fantastic support. And we have a good team here-we've been on lots of teams together now. We get on and have a lot of fun.

"We're also riding fantastic horses, and we had luck on our side. Tina [Cook] didn't have the luck on her side [on cross-country], so the pressure was very much on but the other three of us had a great competition, and we're very lucky today."

Fox-Pitt paid the highest compliment to the winner, who led the competition from the outset. Asked what he thought of the German rider's result he said "quite honestly it's a case of Michael Jung - 1, the rest - nowhere! He's so far ahead we've all got our work cut out for us for the next two years!"

Tina Cook said Miners Frolic was going beautifully and the 20 cross-country penalties they picked up were her fault. "I'm disappointed with myself, my horse did nothing wrong, it was rider error. The horse was going beautifully but I lost my reins going into the water and the balance went and it was out of control. I tried to avoid 20 penalties, I thought I'd done enough not to cross my track but I didn't."

The Canadian riders said that they owe much of their success to coach David O'Connor, who won the team gold medal on the US team at the 2002 World Games.

"He is so responsible for, not just coaching us, but putting together the program that has created these results," said team member Kyle Carter.

"Four years ago the WEG was a real disappointment for us, and since then it's gotten stronger and stronger - and it has everything to do with him. Everybody he's brought in is just excellent and top-notch. He's brought another level to it."

The Canadians also praised O'Connor for helping with their mental game.

"He encourages us with positive reinforcement mentally, so it's not just about the riding," said team member Selena O'Hanlon.

"It's about what you do at home, how you think about it, and how you visualize it. I think that's really big part of it, because in every other sport I can think of - like football, tennis, all of them - you have to read books to make sure you are mentally fit as well."

Andrew Nicholson, who won the individual bronze, said he'd hoped New Zealand could earn a medal for the first time since winning the team gold at the 1998 World Games.

"I was hoping to have a chance to get an individual medal," said Nicholson.

"I obviously have a lot of confidence and faith in Nereo. He's very consistent in all three phases, and as a team we've come along through this year and gotten a bit more together and a bit stronger. I was thinking if we could get in the top four or five as team - so to get a medal as a team is a great bonus."

Teammate Mark Todd, 54, competed in the 1978 World Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park before winning the individual gold medal in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. He retired from eventing after the 2000 Olympics but decided to make a comeback two years ago. His top horse Gandalf died unexpectedly last winter, and he wasn't sure Grass Valley would be ready for these World Games until a few months ago. But now he has a new wind in his sails.

"It's just like starting over really," Todd said.

"I'm really enjoying being back in the sport. I've got a nice team of young horses coming along. I've got a great bunch of team members here. This team has been fantastic to be involved with, and I think we can only get better from here on in. The sport changed a lot, obviously, even since I gave up. It's taken a wee while to sort of adjust to this, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of it."

The US's only individual combination, Becky Holder and Courageous Comet, stood third overall after yesterday's cross-country phase, but Holder withdrew in the holding box at the third horse inspection this morning. Courageous Comet lost a front shoe on the early part of yesterday's course and is thought to have over-compensated in the opposite leg. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The attendance at the Horse Park today was 27,815.