FEI Eventing World Championships: Records Broken In Pratoni, U.S. Team In Third After Dressage Phase

Records are there to be broken and that is what happened on a thrilling second day of dressage at the 15th FEI Eventing World Championship, at Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy.

Michael Jung, the German team anchorman, has smashed his own record with a stunning 18.8 dressage mark on FischerChipmunk FRH, which is now the second-best score in world championship history behind Bettina Hoy in 2002. It puts his team into a close second place behind Great Britain, which starts tomorrow’s cross-country day with the lowest ever team score after dressage, 69.2 penalties.

The British score was already a record before world number one Oliver Townend and the hugely experienced grey Ballaghmor Class recorded 23.4 for individual sixth place to add to first-day leader Laura Collett’s 19.3 and Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser’s 25.6. Defending champion Ros Canter’s good score of 26.2 as pathfinder on Lordships Gruffalo is now, remarkably, the discount score.

Meanwhile, the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team saw its final two team combinations, as well as individual pair, complete their dressage tests before the ground jury Friday at the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championship, finishing the day on a score of 76.6. Tamie Smith and Mai Baum, shined, earning a 24.0, with Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF rounding out the day, earning a 26.2 from the panel. Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan produced a 32.5 to sit in 48th place individually.

While attention now turns to the Giuseppe Della Chiesa (ITA)-designed track across the hills of Pratoni, Chef d’Equipe Bobby Costello was pleased with the team’s performance at the conclusion of the first phase, as they currently hold third place with two days of competition remaining, as Great Britain and Germany maintain first and second overnight, with New Zealand chasing the podium in fourth.

“Obviously I’m thrilled with the last couple of days. Every single one of the riders rode up to their potential, but having said that, we have to put that out of our heads and go into cross-country like we’re a few places lower than third and not feel the pressure of where we are after the dressage,” said Costello. “We need to go out there like we have nothing to lose – ride smart, ride aggressive, and this is the time to make it happen.”

Tamie Smith (Murrietta, Calif.) and Mai Baum, a stalwart combination in the dressage, rose to the occasion and overcame a bobble in their medium trot early on to receive a 24.0 from the panel, placing them in fifth individually and helping to secure the team’s current podium position. Of her test, Smith was pleased with the performance from Mai Baum, a 2006 German Sport Horse gelding owned by Alex Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell, expressing her gratitude for his continued intensity and poise.

“I feel like our test was better than Badminton and he’s in much better self-carriage and relaxation and most of it was all brilliant, unfortunately had that one little mistake, but you have to try and go for it and he wasn’t quite strong enough to hold it, but he tried to give me everything,” said Smith. “I’m still super ecstatic and it’s a 24 at a world championship, so I’ll take it.”

Of the course, Smith noted that rideability will be key and that is one of Mai Baum’s strengths. She explained, “I think it is a rider’s type course because it’s fast, but the horses also have to be rideable and he’s all of those things. He’s smart and brave, so I’m really looking forward to getting out there.”

As the anchor combinations, the pressure was on Martin (Cochranville, Pa.) and his longtime partner Tsetserleg TSF, cantered down their fourth championship centerline together, and were marked well by the panel to receive a 26.2. Martin took a different approach with Tsetserleg TSF before this championship, focusing on lighter training to keep the 2007 Trakehner gelding owned by Christine, Tommie, and Thomas Turner, fresh and ready to give his all for the team this week in Italy.

“He’s such a trier this little horse and he’s so reliable in there. He was a bit quiet and backed-off, so I wish I maybe had one less ride, but that can backfire as well at these big championships if they get too nervous, so all and all I was pleased and it could have gone better, but also could have gone worse,” said Martin of his test with Tsetserleg TSF. “I’m pretty confident about tomorrow. It’s a testing course and at these championships is always a lot of pressure. I’m on a veteran and he’s done bigger and longer courses, so I have some comfort knowing he’s just a champion.”

As the individual combination representing the U.S. Land Rover Eventing Team, Grald and Leamore Master Plan, a 2009 Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Anne Eldridge, earned a 32.4 from the judges and are looking forward to tomorrow’s gallop around the technical, yet terrain-heavy track.

“Dressage isn’t always his strength because he can get very exuberant and nervous, so my main goal was to go in there and keep him with me and I think for the most part he really did that. Obviously, the competitive rider in me wants to go in there and knock it out of the park, but we are building each time and getting a little better each year,” said Grald. In her first championship, she is trying to take everything in and soak in the moment of something she’s been working towards all of her life. “This is amazing. It’s so easy to get laser focused and put tunnel vision on, but I’m trying to take some breaths and look around to take in where I am. I have great teammates and I am so honored to be here with all of them.”

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Learn more about the 2022 FEI Eventing World Championships at pratoni2022.it/en/.

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