A total of 90 horse-and-athlete combinations from 27 countries will be aiming to gallop into the record books when the 15th FEI Eventing World Championship starts on September 15 at the historic equestrian venue of Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy.
In 1960, when the Eventing discipline of the Rome Olympic Games took place here, it was a group of courageous Australians, headed by the versatile horseman Laurie Morgan, who made history by sailing their horses across the world and taking the European sport by storm.
In 1995, the British team and Ireland's Lucy Thompson triumphed in the Open European Eventing Championship at Pratoni; in 1998, on the occasion of Rome hosting the third FEI World Equestrian Games™, New Zealand dominated the podium with such legends as Blyth Tait and Mark Todd; and in 2007, France's Nicolas Touzaint, who will be competing this year, and the British team, led by Mary King, took the European gold medals on Italian soil.
Great Britain and Germany have dominated the last four FEI World Championships, but the list of definite entries for 2022 - CLICK HERE - revealed this week, is fascinating and competitive and many other nations, including the rising stars of Japan and Switzerland, and the Olympic silver and bronze medallists Australia and France, have strong claims on the medal table.
The defending champions, Britain, field a quintet of successful CCI5* partnerships, including the Badminton winners (Laura Collett on London 52) and runners-up, Ros Canter, the defending World Champion, with new top ride Lordships Graffalo. Team GBR's five definite entries include world number one Oliver Townend with his wonderfully consistent grey gelding Ballaghmor Class, Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser, members of the 2018 gold medal team, and Kentucky runners-up Yasmin Ingham and Banzai de Loir, who make their senior team debut.
The German squad is a mix of old and new, with the 2010 and 2014 World Champions Michael Jung (riding FischerChipmunk FRH) and Sandra Auffarth (Viamant du Matz), plus Olympic champion Julia Krajewski (Amande de B'Neville), joined by newcomers Christoph Wahler and 22-year-old Alina Dibowski, daughter of the much-medalled Andreas.
Other riders with history riding on their shoulders include Andrew Hoy (AUS), whose FEI World Championship career dates right back to 1978; Sam Watson (IRL), whose father, John, won the individual silver medal in 1978; Amanda Pottinger (NZL), whose mother Tinks so nearly took the 1985 title in Gawler; and, of course, the host nation of Italy, who will be carrying local expectation on their shoulders.
Sixteen nations will be fielding teams (of three or more riders): Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and USA.
Eleven nations will be fielding individual competitors: China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Hungary, India, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland and Thailand.
The competition to decide the champion of the world in Eventing begins in just a week's time.
Photo: Great Britain, Team Eventing Gold Medalist in Tryon 2018 - © FEI/Christophe Tanière