Britain’s Ros Canter is the new eventing World Champion, taking out the title on Allstar B at the FEI World Equestrian Games in North Carolina, and helping Britain to team gold along the way.
Silver went to Ireland – its first world team medal since 1966 – and Olympic champions France took the bronze medal.
The final showjumping phase – which had been postponed by a day due to heavy rainfall on Sunday – caused problems throughout the field and made for an exciting climax to the competition. Rosalind Canter entered the arena as the final rider Britain, with the team in the gold medal position, and individually sitting in silver. A text-book clear round from Allstar B not only secured Great Britain as World Champions, but also confirmed an individual medal for Ros, and team Olympic qualification for Great Britain at Tokyo 2020.
Individually, the overnight leader, Ingrid Klimke, had no room for error on Hale Bob and as they approached the final fence it looked like the individual gold was going to Germany, but the crowds’ cheers turned to gasps as a pole on the final fence fell.
Ireland’s Padraig McCarthy went clear to seal the silver on Mr Chunky, with the team of McCarthy, Sarah Ennis, Patricia Ryan, Cathal Daniels and Sam Watson holding on to take silver ahead of France.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in. I can’t believe it; Allstar B was absolutely amazing, he was an absolute hero, I had an amazing experience in there,” Canter said.
“I kept saying [to myself] just let him do his job, and I’m so proud, he’s just phenomenal. There were quite a few tears when I found out which isn’t normal for me.”
In the team competition, Great Britain headed into the showjumping with an 8.2 penalty advantage – or just two fences – over Ireland, and, after two clear rounds from Ireland’s team riders, the pressure mounted on the final three British combinations. It was not all plain sailing as Gemma Tattersall picked up 12 faults on Arctic Soul and Tom McEwen took an unlucky four faults on Toledo de Kerser. Their completion score of 32.4 penalties meant that the gap between the team gold and silver had closed to just four faults with two team riders left to show jump.
The penultimate rider for Britain, Piggy French, also picked up four faults on Quarrycrest Echo, which reduced the team’s advantage to just 0.2 of a penalty. Ireland’s final team rider, Sarah Ennis, headed into the final phase in individual bronze but an early fence down on Horseware Stellor Rebound dropped them out of the individual medals and increased the penalty gap between team silver and gold back to four. After Canter’s clear round the team gold was secured for Great Britain with a score of 88.8, Ireland took team silver on 93 and France bronze with a score of 99.8.
Great Britain’s individual combination, Tina Cook and Billy the Red, rounded off their championships with a clear round which pulled them up to finish in ninth place individually, and second best of the British riders behind Canter on a score of 31.5 penalties.
France’s celebrations after winning team bronze were tinged with regret as Lieutenant Colonel Thibaut Vallette and Astier Nicolas, lying fourth and fifth respectively after the cross-country, both knocked a pole down to ruin hopes of climbing onto the individual podium.
Japan produced a stunning display to finish fourth overall, suggesting that the home nation could be one to watch come the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
With hosts Japan already guaranteed a place at the 2020 Games, Germany and Australia also booked their tickets by finishing fifth and sixth respectively before New Zealand, buoyed by Burghley 2018 winner Tim Price’s eighth place overall on Cekatinka, snatched the final qualification spot.
There was less than a rail between New Zealand qualifying for Tokyo or not, and they finished just ahead of the United States to secure the berth.
Price’s rail mid-course cost him a silver medal. “I am a little bit frustrated,” he said. “She is a great jumper and jumped her socks off everywhere else. She has had very few rails in her career. It is a pretty demanding track out there.”