Germany takes charge on a thrilling cross-country day

Sep 17th 2022

It was anticipated that cross-country day at the FEI Eventing World Championship at Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, would be thrilling, and it did not disappoint, as an exciting and dramatic competition unfolded with many teams' fortunes changing.

Germany are now the leading nation with three rounds inside the time and Michael Jung has retained his hold on the individual leaderboard with a fence in hand, but there is incredibly little margin for error at the top.

The German team does not have a fence in hand over the USA, who have risen to silver medal position, and only one fence separates Germany from Great Britain, who have slipped to bronze position after a day of mixed fortunes.

The British individual, 25-year-old Yasmin Ingham, who is competing in her first senior championship, is in silver medal position after a brilliant performance on Banzai du Loir and the USA's Tamra Smith has risen two places to individual bronze after a stunning championship debut on the German-bred Mai Baum.

'You can never think you are safe,' said Jung, 40, who is within touching distance of his second world title and seventh individual gold medal, a phenomenal record. 'Anything can happen so quickly and you only have to see what has happened to some very good riders today.

'FischerChipmunk is an amazing horse. In the warm-up he was just playing, doing flying changes - it is an amazing feeling to have that power underneath you. He has such quick reactions in difficult situations; you could even jump the two hedges with a little smile.'

The price of one rail covers riders placed second to 10th, ensuring a nail-biting showjumping finale tomorrow.

Oliver Townend, now fourth, and Ballaghmor Class produced the ultimate professional round that has kept his team in the hunt for the medals. This was despite the genuine grey losing a shoe at the seventh fence, the dramatic slide.

It was here that Laura Collett's big chance evaporated in devastating fashion when the powerful London 52 was too onward-bound coming down the steep slope and ran out, knocking the British team off the gold medal spot. 

However, Ros Canter (GBR), the defending champion, produced an exemplary pathfinder round on Lordships Gruffalo, the first inside the optimum time of 9 minutes 50 seconds - she is now eighth. Like Collett, Tom McEwen struggled to contain a fresh Toledo de Kerser and incurred 4.8 time penalties to drop seven places to 14th.

The Olympic champions Julia Krajewski and Amande de B'Neville (GER) are fifth; the USA's Boyd Martin is sixth on Tsetserleg TSF; Tim Price is the best of the New Zealanders in seventh on Falco; and France's Gaspard Maksud (Zaragoza) and Japan's Kazuma Tomoto (Vinci de la Vigne JRA) complete an international top 10.

Olympic qualification is also at stake - the top seven nations will qualify for Paris in 2024. Currently, those teams include New Zealand, Switzerland, Japan and Ireland. Italy, the host nation, is in 11th place. 

France as host nation is already qualified for Paris, which is fortunate as the team suffered a terrible day with falls for Tom Carlile and Nicolas Touzaint and two run-outs for Astier Nicolas, who also triggered a frangible pin. 

Australia, fifth after dressage, has dropped to 10th after Andrew Hoy had two run-outs and Kevin McNab suffered a bizarre mishap when a rein snapped in the middle of the combination at 16 and he had to stop to tie it up.

There were 48 clear rounds, 11 of them inside the time; 72 out of the 88 starters completed the course; there were seven rider falls and nine frangible pins triggered.

Tomorrow's finale over a 1.30m track by international showjumping course-designer Uliano Vezzani (ITA), will require nerves of steel. 

According to statistical analysts Equiratings, the 10 best jumpers, in order, are: Toledo de Kerser (GBR), Falco (NZL), McClaren (NZL), Vassily de Lassos (AUS), Amande de B'Neville (GER), Lordships Gruffalo (GBR), FischerChipmunk (GER), Banzai du Loir (GBR), Mai Baum (USA) and Virgil (AUS).

The final horse inspection is at 9am. The jumping starts at 11.30 with the top 25 jumping at 2.30pm local time.

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