Husband and wife dream team Tim and Jonelle Price will turn their attention to possible world domination of Eventing at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG).
The New Zealand riders have enjoyed a stellar season, with Jonelle claiming her first Badminton Horse Trials title in May before Tim landed the United Kingdom’s other major four-star event – the Burghley Horse Trials – in early September.
Now they are part of a New Zealand team that also features double Olympic champion Mark Todd and twice World individual gold medalist Blyth Tait, as they chase a third WEG crown in the Mars, Inc. Eventing.
“It is obviously a different situation here than Burghley,” Tim Price said. “But it was only a couple of weeks ago of being out there with a bit of pressure, and I will keep reminding myself of Burghley.
“But this is very much a team effort, and it is not going to be about one single individual performance.”
Lining up alongside them, though, are a host of teams and riders with serious gold medal aspirations in both the team and individual competitions.
Defending world champions Germany might be without the genial reigning Olympic champion Michael Jung, but it says everything about their remarkable strength that the team still features current world champion Sandra Auffarth and 2017 European Individual Gold medal winner Ingrid Klimke, who was part of German World Equestrian Games-winning teams in 2006 and 2014.
“I am really happy to be here with my horse,” Klimke said. “We are ready for the next adventure. We have a wonderful venue and I am very proud to be here and be a part of it all.”
Great Britain, world title winners in 1994 and 2010, might have seen a major selection surprise with current world number one Oliver Townend not making their team, but few can doubt claims to a podium finish, given the presence of multiple major championship medalist Tina Cook, world number three Ros Canter and 2011 Olympic Test event winner Piggy French.
And the quality is further emphasized by France fielding two members of their Rio 2016 gold medal-winning team in Thibaut Vallette and Astier Nicolas, the United States being led by Rio individual Bronze medalist Phillip Dutton and Australia featuring Andrew Hoy, a three-time Olympic team gold medal winner.
Considerable interest, too, will surround a Japanese team led by the highly experienced and reigning Asian Games champion Yoshiaki Oiwa two years out from the Tokyo Olympics.
A total of 83 combinations from 23 countries were presented at Wednesday’s first horse inspection in front of judges Anne-Mette Binder (Denmark), Jane Hamlin (USA) and Andrew Bennie (New Zealand), with all being accepted.
Belgium’s Joris Vanspringel with Imperial van de Holtakkers was held, but then passed on re-inspection, along with the Netherlands’ Merel Blom and Rumour Has It N.O.P, but they also passed after being held.
Action starts with Thursday’s opening day of Dressage in Tryon Stadium, followed by day two on Friday, before attention switches to the Cross-Country course designed by former USA Eventing team coach Captain Mark Phillips, which will shape the leaderboard ahead of Sunday’s jumping finale.