Like everyone, I was gripped watching the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, which came to such a thrilling climax. When only the second rider out on the cross-country, Spain’s Carlos Diaz Fernandez, achieved the optimum time, I thought, “Oh no, this could be dull.” But it turned into a brilliant competition that went right to the wire — I felt so sorry for Ingrid Klimke, whose expression was one of sheer disbelief as the last fence fell.
Ros Canter has had an extraordinary rise to the top in the past two years; she looks tiny aboard her exceptional horse, yet they are completely secure and smooth as a partnership. It was lovely for Allstar B’s owner, Caroline Moore, who has put a lot into the sport and is so passionate about training.
There were some great performances. Tim Price was lovely to watch, Andrew Hoy rode beautifully and positively on a young horse and Tom McEwen looked a picture — accurate and still in his body.
Tina Cook rode as well as ever to be the second-best Brit; for a nervous moment, it looked as if her score might have been crucial to the team. After all the speculation about selection, which was such a talking point at Burghley, I can imagine that the selectors must be four relieved people right now.
There was a wonderful result for Sally Corscadden and her Irish team, especially Padraig McCarthy, who is a lovely rider. In true Irish style, the team gave a display of forward cross-country riding — they were there to win it.
Is it sustainable?
Some riders will be gutted about the spooky waterfall fence, especially Mark Todd and Blyth Tait. It was certainly a gimmick, which some people have criticised, but we’ve all jumped things like that before and most horses coped with it.
The New Zealanders’ terrible time reminded me of The Hague in 1994, when the British team, who won, had been pooh-poohed for having being useless at Badminton. This year, everyone had decided that the Kiwis had won it before they even got there, but that’s typical of this sport and is what makes it so interesting.
The depressing aspect of Tryon was the lack of spectators and the dreary backdrop, which makes me wonder how much longer we can sustain running championships on sites that don’t attract an audience.
I feel disappointed for the sport about that and worry that this, and the poor press coverage of Britain’s gold medals, will not impress the International Olympic Committee. The only radio coverage I heard was a feeble, predictable joke about Ros’ surname and a commentator asking what had happened to “Allstar A”!
Back at home, there were some great results at Blenheim. I was pleased to see Bella Innes Ker’s success on her young rider horse, Carolyn, as this is a true example of a long partnership of complete trust. It was some achievement to win in that company. And Laura Collett, who was so devastated not to be away at Tryon, had some compensation with her super young horses.
As the season draws to a close, I have one small idea for next year. Why not put physical minute markers on the cross-country course? It’s not as if the riders haven’t already worked them out, but it would be more interesting for spectators.
Ref Horse & Hound; 27 September 2018