World Showjumping Championships: who is in line for medals glory?

  • Britain has not won a team world showjumping medal since bronze in 1998, nor an individual medal since the legendary John Whitaker and Milton took silver in 1990. But could the selection of the World Showjumping Championships riders for Herning mean the stars are aligning for a change of fortunes?

    The British World Showjumping Championships team is packed with human and equine talent of the highest order, including Olympic champion Ben Maher. Ben is without his Tokyo champion Explosion W but Faltic HB has some good recent top-level results under his belt, and jumped a superb clear in the Hickstead and the Aachen Nations Cups. They are joined by 2012 Olympic team gold medallist Scott Brash and Hello Jefferson, who missed out on last year’s individual Olympic final by less than half a second – and is a horse Nick Skelton said would tempt him out of retirement.

    Harry Charles, who made a solid senior championship debut in Tokyo with the brilliant Romeo 88 last year, has been on fire ever since, winning just about everything there is to win. Joe Stockdale and Equine America Cacharel also made their senior championship debut last year at the Europeans and impressed more than their scorelines would suggest; it is possible the mare – whom Joe’s late father Tim bought at a local auction, always believing she would compete at a championship – was slightly less fit than was ideal in Riesenbeck. But the pair have since been in flying form.

    This is a strong quartet of World Showjumping Championships riders that has every chance of ending the world medal drought, on both the team and individual podiums.

    Ireland is also looking promising and may be in contention for the medals; they have never been on a world team podium and their last individual medal was Dermott Lennon and Liscalgot’s gold in 2002. But with a talented team featuring a wealth of championship experience and a couple of exciting new partnerships all on good form, they will also be looking to change their record.

    Challenges for the podiums come from all sides. The Olympic champions Sweden have two of the world’s top-three ranked riders in Peder Fredricson and Henrik von Eckermann, and a string of horsepower on top form.

    World number one and former European champion Martin Fuchs, with his European silver medallist Leone Jei, and 2012 Olympic champion Steve Guerdat, on Venard De Cerisy, head the strong Swiss challenge. And heavyweights the US, Belgium and European silver medallists Germany will all be gunning for success, as well as the all-important qualification for the Paris Olympics.

    The individual title is harder to call. Peder and Henrik are in the form of their lives, and Martin Fuchs is one of the most consistent riders about. Harry could well also be on the podium for Britain and do not discount the likes of Brazil’s Marlon Zanotelli and Like A Diamond Van Het Schaeck, who have been on superb form.

    This will no doubt be a week of top-class sporting action – and the odds are very good for Britain’s World Showjumping Championships riders to come home with the goods.

    World Showjumping Championships: medal predictions

    worlds sj podium predictions

    World Showjumping Championships riders: key favourites

    Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward (SWE)

    The super Swede, who was on the silver medal-winning team at the 2018 World Equestrian Games – and the current world number two – brings his Tokyo Olympic team gold medal-winning ride, King Edward, to the championships on flying form. The pair finished in fourth place individually in Tokyo, but must be favourites to step up in Herning. They won two CSI5* classes and were second in the grand prix at the Stockholm GCT, and their highlights of the last year include winning the GCT Super Grand Prix at the Prague Playoffs at the end of 2021.

    Harry Charles and Romeo 88 (GBR)

    This talented pair finished fourth in the 2022 World Cup Final and were impressive on their Olympic and senior championship debut in 2021. This combination has only improved since, with a double clear in the Aachen Nations Cup last month and second place in the King George at Hickstead, they look to be coming into peak form at exactly the right time.

    Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei (SUI)

    The current world number one had to retire his much-loved medal-winning superstar Clooney 51 last year owing to injury, but won 2021 European individual silver, and team gold, with another flying grey. Leone Jei was only nine when he secured those two medals last year and with another 11 months of experience under his belt, including a win in the Rolex grand prix of Geneva last winter, the KWPN gelding is sure to shine in Herning.

    Peder Fredricson and H&M All In (SWE)

    This superb combination, pipped to Olympic gold by Nick Skelton and Big Star in 2016 and Ben Maher and Explosion W last year, have won five championship medals together in the past five years. The 16-year-old gelding has been on fine form, with three third places at five-star level since May and a five-star win in Falsterbo just a fortnight ago. This is a highly experienced world-class combination who will have a firm eye on the podium.

    McLain Ward and Contagious (USA)

    The Tokyo team silver medallists come to Herning with three four- and five-star wins on the bounce under their belts. McLain, who was also on the team that won gold at the 2018 World Equestrian Games, has a wealth of championship experience. With this super 13-year-old gelding, on whom he has clocked up another three international wins already this year, he will no doubt be confident of his chances.

    Andre Thieme and DSP Chakaria (GER)

    The reigning European champion will surely be eyeing up the chance to add a world medal to his CV. His 12-year-old ride Chakaria, about whom Andre joked he is “as much in love with as I am my wife”, clocked up eight faults in last year’s Olympic final – which Andre said he thought came too soon – but was bang on form in Riesenbeck last summer. And by her form this year, including winning the 1.60m grands prix in Mannheim in May and Falsterbo last week, they have to be in with a shot at the podium.

    Marlon Modolo Zanotelli and Like A Diamond Van Het Schaeck (BRA)

    Herning will be a championship debut for this 11-year-old mare, but she and the world number eight-ranked Marlon have been quietly clocking up top results. They won the GCT of Paris grand prix last month, and have three other GCT wins and a second place to their name this season, so should not be overlooked here.

    • For Horse & Hound’s full preview of the Herning World Championships, see 28 July edition of the magazine – order your copy online

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