Anticipation is building with only two months to go until the start of the FEI Eventing World Championships 2022, to be held in Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy (September 15-18). In recent weeks, some nations have been releasing their long lists of potential horse-rider combinations, from which they will eventually select five (a team of four plus one individual) to travel to this keenly awaited championship in the beautiful, mountainous surrounds of the ‘Parco dei Colli Albani’.
Pratoni has previously been successful for Great Britain at the 1995 and 2007 European Championships. The reigning World Champions have nominated 14 combinations, including the individual gold medallist from 2018, Ros Canter, with her Badminton runner-up Lordships Gruffalo and Pencos Royal Jewel, plus the Tokyo Olympics gold medal trio, Tom McEwen, Oliver Townend and Badminton winner Laura Collett. Team veterans Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt are also on the list, plus rising star Yasmin Ingham with Kentucky runner-up Banzai du Loir.
Germany, world champions in 2006 and 2014, have listed 15 combinations in a four-tier system. At the top is their Olympic team, the individual gold medallist Julia Krajewski (Amande de B'Neville), plus the 2010 World Champion Michael Jung (with fischerChipmunk FRH) and the 2014 World Champion Sandra Auffarth with her recent Aachen winner, Vaimant du Matz.
New Zealand, the country that dominated both the 1990 and 1998 competitions, will be strongly represented, as will the USA, team gold medallists in 2002, France, five-times team silver medallists, including at Pratoni in 1998, Ireland, the defending team silver medallists from Tryon, and rising stars Switzerland, who reigned supreme at the Pratoni del Vivaro Test Event in May and won its second CCIO4*-S FEI Nations Cup Eventing in Avenches.
Canada, World Champions in 1978 and silver medallists in Kentucky in 2010, have released a list of 10 riders and 12 horses, headed by the experienced five-star rider Hawley Bennett-Awad, a member of the 2010 team.
Susanna Bordone, who has been representing Italy at championship level, including in dressage, for 20 years, is the most experienced member of the host nation's squad, which also comprises Evelina Bertoli, Marco Cappai, Pietro Majolino, Emiliano Portale, Pietro Sandei, Arianna Schivo and Giovanni Ugolotti.
Australia were Olympic Champions at Pratoni in 1960 and three-times team gold medallists, but the country is yet to win a world title. Andrew Hoy, the individual bronze medallist in Tokyo, has won world team bronzes in 1986 and 2006 and finished a tantalising fourth individually in Tryon in 2018.
'I would say that perhaps the focus has always been towards the Olympics, but certainly the World Championship is missing from Australia's CV,' said Hoy, who has won seven Olympic medals. 'There is no doubt that Pratoni is a magnificent venue and the terrain offers so much opportunity for a great event. Championships are rarely a dressage competition, and you will need a fit, strong horse here, but a huge amount of work has been done and is still being done on the footing. It's an exciting place and I hope it gives Italy a good legacy.'
Final selection trials will be taking place around the world in the coming weeks, with nominated entries due to the FEI on August 15 and definite entries on September 5.
In the pictures: Robin Godel (SUI) / Andrew Hoy (AUS) - ph. Massimo Argenziano