Diarmuid Byrne: What it takes to win eventing gold at WEG *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    There are many ways to pick the World Equestrian Games (WEG) eventing winner. We have examined the past 10 senior championships (Europeans, Olympics and WEGs) that fell between 2008-2017. This includes three Olympic Games (where there are two showjumping rounds) and five European Championships, which are at three-star level, and don’t include major players such as New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

    However, for the first time WEG will have a three-star cross-country (previously four), which makes the comparison with the European Championships interesting.


    The trendline for the past 10 individual gold medallists shows a drop from a dressage score (in the current scoring format) of 25 trending towards a score of 22.5. That’s 75% moving towards 77.5%.

    The two exceptions were La Biosthetique-Sam FBW’s two Olympic medals where he scored the equivalent of 27 each time.

    On the first, at London 2012, he needed that second round of showjumping to get past Sweden’s Sara Algotsson Ostholt and Wega (who return for WEG this year).

    Therefore, we can say with some confidence that this year’s individual gold medallist will score better than 74% in the dressage, which means lower than 26 penalties.


    Seven of the past 10 individual winners finished clear and inside the time in this phase.

    Tina Cook (also returning to WEG for Team GBR) was two seconds (0.8 penalties) over the time when winning the 2009 European Championships.

    The other two who didn’t make the time were major outliers and they came at the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong and 2014 WEG in France. In 2008, Hinrich Romeike and Marius picked up 12.8 time-penalties, but they recorded the third-fastest time of the day and were only 3.6 penalties (nine seconds) behind the fastest combination — Shane Rose and the speedy All Luck.

    That leaves the one other oddity, which was Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo, who are the reigning WEG champions with a huge 16.8 time-penalties. They were only the 13th fastest and were 12.8 penalties (32 seconds) behind the fastest horse in the world on soft ground. That fastest horse was the 2018 Badminton winner Classic Moet, who returns to WEG for New Zealand with Jonelle Price.

    Sandra is an exception. Nine of the past 10 winners of senior championships have either been in the top-four fastest times of the day, or inside the time.

    Now, the talk so far about potential course shortening and the “three Hs” of heat, humidity and hills, means that we could be facing a Hong Kong-type scenario. Our advice is that your choice for individual champion will need to be one of the five fastest horses on the day.

    Of the big dressage performers, SAP Hale Bob OLD (Ingrid Klimke) is the fastest followed by Chipmunk FRH (Julia Krajewski), who will both compete for Germany.


    Seven of the past 10 senior individual gold medallists added no penalties in the final phase.

    Tina Cook was the significant outlier, adding four jumping and four time-penalties, and if we want to play the hindsight game, the current scoring system would have seen Piggy French (another British WEG member this year) crowned European champion in 2009. In reality, she took silver.

    The other two champions to add four penalties on the final day were Hinrich Romeike (2008) and Michael Jung aboard Halunke FBW (2013).

    So, if we’re talking trends then seven of the past eight individual senior champions have jumped clear.

    The new scoring system will only enhance the need to jump clean in the final moments of WEG 2018, and there are plenty of good jumpers on show. It’s good news for Team GBR when you look at some of the best jumpers.


    The winning individual score is likely to be in the region of 28. All of this year’s four-stars have been there and 28 also happens to be the average of the past 10 champions when we convert to the new scoring system.

    Ingrid Klimke looks the most likely to deliver that, Julia Krajewski will be expected to run her close. The two big dark horses for me will be Ros Canter (Allstar B) for the Brits and Sarah Ennis (Horseware Stellor Rebound) for Ireland.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 13 September 2018