The USA has great depth in its squad, with three members of the winning 2002 World Equestrian Games (WEG) team returning with the same mounts for a shot at gold in Greece.
The key to US prospects is 2004 Rolex Kentucky winner Kim Severson with Winsome Adante. The pair could lead the team to the gold medal and have a good chance of individual honours.
Kim fancies the USA’s chance, but remains conservative in her assessment of how everything will work out. “We do have a lot of depth and plenty of people to choose from,” she says. “It looks as good as it can get but it all comes down to what happens on the day.”
The squad is currently in England for last minute training with Captain Mark Phillips, before going to Greece.
“Our long-term programme is similar to what we had for Spain [WEG], and that proved very good for our horses,” explains Kim. “They came from a hot climate [Virginia] to England for three weeks and kind of cooled down when they were there, but they were prepared to go on again to a hot climate. I’m really happy that they chose to stick with that same programme.”
Kim and John Williams (Carrick) have the same horses they rode in Spain, as does Amy Tryon, who will be riding My Beau.
“I feel like it’s certainly a dream come true to be named on the squad. It’s a nice reward for the hours you put in,” says Amy, who works as a firefighter.
The squad also includes Julie Richards (Jacob Two Two), who rode as an individual in Sydney, and Pan Am Games individual gold medallist Darren Chiacchia, with the Trakehner stallion Windfall II.
“You don’t get too excited because anything can happen. But at the same time, you’ve got to think: ‘Hey, we’re going!’ I don’t feel like the long-shot I was in the past,” says Darren, who was travelling reserve for Sydney.
The squad is missing long-standing and highly experienced team member David O’Connor, who now plans to concentrate on bringing on young horses.
“I’m very proud of the ways I’ve been able to help our team effort,” he says, “but now it’s time to let other riders carry that torch.”