There is a particular feeling between lady riders and eventing. Since 1966, the year in which the first championships for this discipline were held, 55 lady riders have won a total of 77 medals, both individual and team.
It started with the first championship at Burghley in 1966 when Ireland’s Virginia Freeman-Jackson, riding Sam Weller, took home individual bronze and team gold, together with Penelope Moreton riding Loughlin, and concludes with the last two individual world champions, Germany’s Sandra Auffarth (Opgun Louvo) in Caen 2014 and GB’s Rosalind Canter (Allstar B) in Tryon in 2018.
Six of the fourteen individual gold medals in as many editions of the Eventing World Championships were won by women, including: Great Britain’s Zara Phillips (Toytown) in 2006 in Aachen, Virginia Holgate-Leng (Priceless) at Gawler in Australia in 1986, Lucinda Green (Regal Realm) at the 1982 World Championships in Luhmühlen and Mary Gordon Watson (Cornishman V) at Punchestown, Ireland, in 1970.
To these medals must be added the three silver and eight bronze medals won by female riders: at Gawler, it was an all-female line-up with Virginia Leng, New Zealand’s Trudy Boyce taking silver (Mossman) and another British rider Lorna Clarke winning the bronze (Myross). In 1994 at The Hague, an all-female British team nicknamed ‘the Golden Girls’, triumphed: Mary Thomson (King) on King William, Charlotte Bathe (The Cool Customer), Kristina Gifford (Cook) on General Jock and Karen Dixon (Get Smart), also the individual bronze medallist.
The most successful female rider in eventing world championships is Great Britain’s Virginia Holgate-Leng (4 medals: one individual gold, two team gold medals and one team silver) followed by her compatriots Mary King and Kristina Cook (both with two team gold medals and one silver), Karen Dixon (one team gold and one team silver and one individual bronze medal) and Zara Phillips (one individual gold medal and two team silver medals), Germany’s Ingrid Klimke (two team silver medals and one individual bronze) and France’s Marie-Christine Duroy (three team silver medals).
Picture: Ingrid Klimke (Germany) - photo FEI / Richard Juilliart.