The eventing finale was every bit as fitting as it should have been to decide a world champion at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games.
The stands probably weren’t as full as organisers would have liked but every one of those people in the US Trust Arena were on the edge of their seats. Team-mates of riders clutched each other on the kiss and cry platform, riding every jump and feeling the agony or ecstasy of the round.
Others gathered behind the stadium in the warm-up area to watch the big screen or at the monitors in the media mixed zone.
And it delivered – the Brits rode off with double gold with the pint-sized Ros Canter and Allstar B taking the individual and the team top honours. With the class running in reverse order, overnight leader Ingrid Klimke (GER) was the last to go and her pain was clear to see as she and SAP Hale Bob OLD took the last rail to settle for the bronze medal behind silver medallist Padraig McCarthy (IRE) and Mr Chunky.
That New Zealand managed to qualify a team for Tokyo was a silver lining to a frustrating and somewhat disappointing week. The riders and chef d’equipe Graeme Thom had come to North Carolina with bigger fish to fry, but in the end the podium was not home to the Kiwis.
Graeme paid tribute to the wider New Zealand eventing team as well as those from other countries who head home with the spoils of victory.
“Well, we eeked out a small victory in what has been mostly a disappointing week,” he said. “By moving up three spots to seventh, our team secured a berth for the Olympic Games in 2020. The past week has been marred by small errors that in the aggregate pushed us out of contention.
“Additionally we can reflect on the loss of Clarke (Johnstone) and Balmoral Sensation (who was injured at Aachen and unavailable for WEG), and what their contribution would have been. It is however important to remind ourselves that every nation is faced with similar obstacles and there is no room for excuses,” he said.
“We must be thankful for the wonderful support of our owners, High Performance Sport New Zealand, the supreme coaching staff, our first class grooms, the amazing horse health team and of course our devoted and competitive athletes.A huge congratulations to the winning nations and individuals. They all set a high bar and were rewarded for earning their success and we tip our hats to them all.”
It was the first time Britain has won both the individual and team golds at a single WEG and 32-year-old Ros’ win was the first individual gold since Zara Tindall won in Aachen, Germany, in 2006.
The Irish also claimed their own slice of history with their team silver the first major championship team medal in more than 20 years.
For full results, head to https://www.rechenstelle.de/en/