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History made as US beaten to reining gold at WEG

Belgian rider Bernard Fonck made history by becoming the first European to win world reining gold, taking the title in Tryon on Saturday (15 September).

Bernard and Gina de Pauw and Steve Vannietvelt’s American quarter horse stallion What A Wave scored 227 in the Johnson Controls individual final at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) to take the victory.

“This is the first time in history a European rider leaves WEG with the individual gold medal and I could not be any prouder,” said Fonck. “What A Wave is the sweetest horse I have ever had the pleasure of riding. I am very fortunate to have had more than one ‘once in a lifetime’ horse, and he is at the top of this list.

“Every time we show, he gives me all he has and every time it gets better and better. When I came here I knew that we could probably make it to the top five positions but I would never have imagined that we would claim the gold.”

The US’s Dan Huss took silver on eight-year-old Ms Dreamy, who also made history as the first mare to win an individual WEG reining medal.

“Mares are a little more sensitive so you have to be very good as far as technique and horsemanship are concerned,” said Dan. “They are not so forgiving but if you understand them, your better mares will step up and compete with the boys. [Ms Dreamy has] probably taught me more than I’ve taught her, and it’s been a great experience.”

A run-off determined the bronze medal as the US’s Cade McCutcheon, on Custom Made Gun, and Brazilian Joao Felipe Lacerda aboard Gunner Dun It Again both scored 225.

Joao came back in to record 227, his highest score of the Games, but 18-year-old Cade and seven-year-old Custom Made Gun reached 228 to take the medal.

Continues below…


‘I’m so proud’: British rider records personal best in Tryon

The combination’s seventh-place finish was just not enough to qualify for the individual final


“I was a little disappointed with myself after my first ride so I let him catch his breath and, when we went back in, I tried to perform a cleaner run,” said Cade.

“He was incredibly good for me and I am thrilled to have represented my country and to have won the team gold and individual bronze medals. I could not have done this without my team, my coach and my family and I still cannot believe that I made it to the podium. It will take a while before it sinks in!”

Britain’s Francesca Sternberg and Spook N Sparkle missed out on qualifying for the final by two places, while Alison Bucknell and her own Jac Barbee Dream had also competed in the first round of competition, finishing in 54th place.

In the team competition, the US won gold, Belgium took silver and Germany the bronze medals.

Horse & Hound has two journalists and a photographer in Tryon for WEG. Keep up to date with all the news on horseandhound.co.uk and in the magazine issues dated 20 and 27 September.

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