New Zealand jumpers Sam McIntosh and Daniel Meech have bowed out of the competition at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games with their heads held high and perhaps wishing for a little more luck.
Sam and Check In 2 only just missed out on making the top 25 for the final on Sunday with their 32ndplace finish today, with nine faults in the second round, notching New Zealand’s best-ever individual result at a WEG. Daniel and Fine placed 45thwith their six fault effort.
Both riders were still very pleased with their horses and the effort they had continued to give right to the end.
“Check In has been jumping fantastic,” said Sam. “He was lacking a little rideability today – probably after going two rounds at quite a speed for him. He still tried really hard and jumped his heart out. It is tough out there – we have been out there for three days now and the fences are getting bigger and wider and I think it is starting to take its toll.”
She said she had lost a little control across the middle of the course. “He jumped down that first line like a ripper and then probably just lost a little rhythm, then he started fighting. I am still rapt with him.”
Daniel felt his mare was “really on” today. “When you walk in there you can really feel the atmosphere compared to the other days. I think that really helped her. She is a big time horse. When I went in, I knew she was really on and from the first jump, she was flying.”
He was very proud of her. “The one thing I always say about this mare is that she never lets me down. We can have a bad day, like yesterday, and have two down, but on an occasion like this, you need a horse like this who walks in there and says, ‘we own this today’. She rose to the occasion and didn’t let the occasion get to her.”
Chef d’equipe Helena Stormanns said she was happy to have seen some of her riders really grow over the championships, and particularly Daniel and Fine. “His mare has developed absolutely fantastic,” she said. “It came as a very green horse to Barcelona (Nations Cup final) last year and is not polished. Daniel is a very good rider and he has proven himself at championships before and again this week. For me it is still a young horse but it has a very good future. It is very scopey and well suited to a championship format where you have to jump a lot of big jumps over a lot of days.”
A final training camp at her German base for the European based riders had been helpful in preparing the riders for WEG.
“Daniel’s horse came along in leaps and bounds, and Sam’s horse also profited. He was a little bit rude today – it as a pity. He suddenly got very strong and ran away a bit and ran her into trouble . . . it happens, they are animals.”
She was full of praise for course designer Alan Wade’s efforts. “They have been fabulous. Just brilliant. They were technical and clever and you need to be a good rider. There is no fluking it around there. They are testing but not killing. Clear rounds are supposed to be hard to get.”
Daniel and Fine had produced the highlight of the Games for Helena. “I was expecting Sam’s horse to go well, that is why it is a little bit disappointing to have two down but in every other round up until now he has been perfect and very consistent. I expected the horse to rise to the occasion – I felt this was her chance.”
Bruce Goodin had been unlucky aboard Backatorps Danny V and Sharn Wordley aboard Casper, as the only US based combination in the New Zealand team, had been a bit of a dark horse for her.
Overall, Helena adored working with the New Zealanders. “They are a fantastic group. They pull together. They are there for each other, they are always thinking of each other and helping. They are great characters,” she said. “They are super people and surrounded by good supporters. It is a real pleasure.”
In the hotly-contested teams’ competition, the United States and Sweden jumped off to decide the gold, with it going the way of the hosts. Germany won bronze. Australia finished sixth to secure a berth for the Tokyo Olympic Games. New Zealand did not jump in the teams’ final today but finished 18th.
For full results, head to https://tryon2018.com/officialresults
The horse details –
Casper – owned by The Sky Group
Check In 2 – owned by Takapoto Equestrian
Backatorps Danny V – owned by Backatorp Ryder AB
Fine – owned by Ann Liwing and Daniel Meech
By Diana Dobson, NZ team media liaison
Photos by Libby Law Photography