Germany won a third team gold and Britain's Yasmin Ingham riding Banzai du Loir her first senior individual title in a thrilling finale to the 15th FEI Eventing World Championship, held at Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, in which there was drama and tension right to the very end.
The USA and New Zealand took team silver and bronze; Germany's Julia Krajewski and Amande de B'Neville, the Olympic champions, won the individual silver medal and New Zealander Tim Price, the world number two, was the bronze medallist on Falco.
The final show jumping phase was a rollercoaster, with team gold shifting rapidly from Germany, to the USA and back again. The Italian maestro Uliano Vezzani had designed a strong track worthy of a world championship; clear rounds were hard fought and it caused plenty of excitement and tension right up to the very last fence of the competition.
Sandra Auffarth's three rails down on Viament du Matz initially dropped the German team out of the medals, and the atmosphere became electric, but they gradually clawed their way back thanks to a beautiful clear round from Julia Krajewski.
A perfect clear from Ros Canter (Lordships Gruffalo) set Great Britain up well, and Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser hit one only fence to keep the defending champions in gold medal postition, but then Oliver Townend had an unfortunate round in which Ballaghmor Class hit four fences. This dropped Britain out of the medals altogether and handed Germany a three-fence margin for victory with only Michael Jung and FischerChipmunk FRH, the overnight individual leaders, left to jump.
However, in the individual contest, 25-year-old Ingham and her wonderful chestnut gelding had produced an impressively confident clear round to pile the pressure on Jung, who had beaten her earlier this year in Kentucky. To the astonishment of the crowd, the normally invincible German rider hit the first part of the double at 11a plus the very last fence at 13. 'To have won and lost at the same time is a strange feeling,' admitted Jung afterwards.
'Banzai is the best horse I have ever sat on,' said Ingham, who was quick to credit British team trainer Chris Bartle for his help. 'My horse is incredible in the dressage with so much presence, he is agile and brave across country and today he showed everyone that nothing was going to stop him jumping a clear show jumping round. It was my dream to come here and I just can't believe it.''
Julia Krajewski was equally proud of her mare: 'She always delivers when it really matters. It has felt like a real team effort this week - it went up and down, but we really got it together in the end.'
Tim Price was celebrating his first ever medals and a revival in fortune for the New Zealand team who were last standing on the podium (also in bronze) at the 2012 Olympic Games. 'I am beyond words,' he said. 'We have been working away for years for this, it is the culmination of a lot of work and is beyond our wildest dreams.'
Like Germany, the Americans could celebrate five clear cross-country rounds, but the nation, world champions in 2002, have had a long wait for a medal. 'We came here to do our best,' said Tamra Smith, eventual ninth on Mai Baum. 'We knew we could medal, but we are only 0.4 penalties off bronze because this has been an exceptionally high-class championships.'
Pratoni del Vivaro was indeed rated the most competitive FEI Eventing World Championship since it all started in 1966 and it has certainly lived up to every expectation, with drama and glory in equal measure and some very special horses and riders on the medal podium.
The new world champion
Yasmin Ingham, 25, won double gold at the Pony Europeans in 2013 in Arezzo, Italy. She was brought up on the Isle of Wight, a small island off Great Britain, and now lives on the mainland, in Cheshire, where she rides for Banzai du Loir's owners, Sue Davies and Janette Chinn. She won Blenheim CCI4*-L in 2021 and was runner-up at Kentucky CCI5*-L this year on the 11-year-old Selle Francais by Nouma d'Auzay.