Brits retain medal position as they head into the final day

The British Equestrian Eventing team are still in a medal position at the FEI World Championships in Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, after cross-country today and squad debutante Yasmin Ingham has moved up into the individual silver medal position.

Yasmin, riding Sue Davies and Jeanette Chin’s French-bred Banzai Du Loir, added just 1.2 time-faults to her dressage mark of 22, and has moved up a place to second position behind Germany’s Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH, who remain in gold on their first-phase score of 18.8.

“It was very intense – you were riding on camber constantly, up and down, but I am just so glad that I am sat on Banzai,” said Yasmin. “He took it all in his stride and felt like he was really at home up in the hills – he was incredible. He grew in confidence all the way round and was just looking for the flags.

“I could never have dreamed of being in this position, but I know my horse is more than capable – he is just such an incredible all-round horse in every phase and I think so much of him. He deserves it so much and, touch wood, tomorrow he will show everyone that he really is the ultimate event horse.”

Yasmin Ingham and Banzai Du Loir (Image, Shannon Brinkman)

Laura and her Tokyo Olympic team gold medallist London 52 were heartbreakingly victims of the infamous Slide at fence 7abc – a steep log drop and two skinny fences on the side of a vertical hill – and collected an uncharacteristic 20 penalties at the final part.

Talking after her round, Laura said: “I just feel absolutely gutted for the team. ‘Dan’ was so fresh and too well in himself, really – he jumped off the top [of fence 7] very boldly and he thought he was doing the right thing, because he locked on to the first skinny when he was at the top of the hill and took me down to it, and overjumped – we didn’t quite have room for the three strides to the second skinny and just ran out. 

“For me it wasn’t naughty, he was just too bold and didn’t understand there was going to be a second one there. I’m still super-proud of him to have jumped round that track – I didn’t know what he’d be like with the hills and he finished really well.”

Laura Collett and London 52 (Image, Shannon Brinkman)

Oliver Townend and another of the Tokyo team gold medal-winning horses, Ballaghmor Class, were the final British riders to go and a clear round inside the time was vital to keep the British team in the hunt. Despite the lovely fleabitten grey – who is owned by Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan – losing a front shoe, probably at fence 7, they delivered impeccably and came home four seconds under the optimum time of 9 minutes, 50 seconds to remain on their dressage score of 24.3. This means they have moved up two spots to fourth individually, with the USA’s Tamie Smith (Mai Baum, 24) in bronze ahead of them.

Oliver said: “It’s a tough test out there but for different reasons to normal, and the distances don’t suit him, so it made my job hard work, but he’s so honest – he loves his job, he loves attacking fences, and when he sees it he says go, even when sometimes I have to say whoa, but he couldn’t be more genuine and he battled to the end.” 

When asked what it felt like to have delivered such an important score for Britain, he replied: “It’s good that I can do it when it matters for the team. I hopefully did my job well from the other end [first to go] out in Tokyo last year, and it’s proving to the team management that they can rely on me at either end of the day, and the team’s the most important bit. We’re here because of a huge amount of people – Lottery funding, Sport England and the whole British Equestrian team, so it’s wonderful to deliver on the biggest stage.”

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class (Image, Shannon Brinkman)

Ros Canter and Michele Saul’s Lordships Graffalo, first out of the blocks for the team, were highly impressive and crossed the finish line clear and inside the time – the first of the day to do so round Giuseppe della Chiesa’s twisting, undulating track. They have risen from 14th after dressage to eighth, still on their dressage of 26.2 – which is the same mark as both Boyd Martin for the USA and New Zealand’s Tim Price, but Boyd finished precisely on the time, Tim was one second under it and Ros seven seconds under and therefore further away from the optimum, thus determining their order.

“I couldn’t be prouder of him,” said Ros. “He is just a phenomenal cross-country horse; he’s only 10 years old and it just feels like child’s play to him. He is green and he’s  inexperienced, but he just plays with it and focuses when he needs to focus, and he gallops, so he’s fantastic.”

Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo (Image, Shannon Brinkman)

Tom McEwen and Toledo De Kerser are now in 13th position after collecting 4.8 time-faults.

“He was awesome – honest, good and true, but he needs some bigger fences; he was strong and fighting and there wasn’t really anything to back him off and settle him,” said Tom with a rueful smile.

Tom McEwen and Toledo De Kerser (Image, Shannon Brinkman)

The German team is in gold position with a combined total of 76.1, while Team USA is in silver on 77.4 and Britain is just behind them on 80.9. New Zealand are fourth on 88.3, with Switzerland fifth (109.4) and Japan sixth on 111.9, so there is much to play for in tomorrow’s final showjumping phase.

The funding that the British Equestrian World Class Programme receives from the National Lottery and UK Sport is pivotal in preparing our teams for senior championships and supporting them on the ground.

British Equestrian is also extremely grateful for the support we enjoy from our partners – Bates Saddles, Dodson & Horrell, Fairfax & Favor, Haygain, NAF and Toggi – and team suppliers – Equi-Trek, Horseware, Lotus Romeo, Marksway Horsehage and Point Two. We’re indebted for the year-round support they provide to the World Class Programme and British teams, which helps us to best prepare for senior championships.

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