The French squad have regrouped following the sad death last year of their successful chef d’equipe Pierre Cazes and will be looking to repeat their victory at the last FEI World Equestrian Games in Jerez. Now led by Jean-Louis Leclerc, their line up features several well known names including Virginie Atger, Phillippe Tomas, Cecile Miletto and Philippe Benoit, although reigning world champion Barbara Lissarague is absent.
Italy, current world champions should present a strong challenge. Australia have a good record of enjoying success in Europe and took the world championship title at Compiegne, France in 2000. Members of that gold medal winning team, including Peter and Penny Toft and Meg Wade will feature in a strong line up.
The UAE, yet to win a team world championship, will be looking to build upon individual successes in recent years. Sheikh Mohammed has listed reigning world champion Georgat, whom he purchased from French rider Barbara Lissarague, as his possible ride.
Belgium, winners of last year’s European team and individual titles led home by Kristel Van Den Abeele, with Chanice du Tilleul, will be among the favourites for top medals. Kristel has a new ride for the championships, Ismael du Florival.
The Netherlands, again on home territory will be hoping to build upon their bronze medal at the FEI European Championships at Punchestown in 2003. Hosts Germany, with chef d’equipe Roy Thiele at the helm will be looking to put their squad’s name in lights by securing a place for their country on the medal table for the first time. Melanie Arnold and Belinda Hitzler at among the strong contenders.
Switzerland, whose riders performed well at the European Championship, will be looking for a repeat and could be in with a chance of a medal. The USA, which has an impeccable team and individual record going back to the early world championships will be led this year by double world champion Valerie Kanavy, who takes on the role of chef d’equipe for the first time. Britain, which won gold at the first world championships and the first World Equestrian Games in Stockholm, will be in the hunt for a return to form.
Former individual world champions
1986 Pratoni del Vivaro: Cassandra Schuler on Skikos Omar (USA)
1988 Front Royal: Becky Hart on R.D. Gran Sultan (USA)
1990 (WEG) Stockholm: Becky Hart on R.D. Gran Sultan (USA)
1992: Barcelona: Becky Hart on R.D. Gran Sultan (USA)
1994 (WEG) The Hague: Valerie Kanavy on Pieraz (USA)
1996 Fort Riley: Danielle Kanavy on Pieraz (USA)
1998 (WEG) Dubai/Abu Dhabi: Valerie Kanavy on High Winds Jedi (USA)
2000: Compiegne: Maya Killa Perringerard on Varoussa (FRA)
2002 (WEG) Jerez: Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohd Al Maktoum on Bowman (UAE)
2004 Dubai: Barbara Lissarague on Georgat (FRA)
Former team world champions
1998 New Zealand