Twenty Years of Champions

Countdown to 2010 FEI WEG, Kentucky, USA: 217 Days

Teams have yet to be selected for the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY, but the qualification and selection process is well under way.  We all have wild guesses about this year’s big contenders, but we need to know what we’re up against.  Let’s look at the results, and see which nations have performed consistently well in the team and individual Eventing Championships in the history of the event.

New Zealand kicked off their WEG experience by winning the first event in Stockholm, Sweden in 1990 by a comfortable margin of 40.75 points ahead of Great Britain.  In Rome, team members finished first, second and fourth individually, a cumulative 45.2 points ahead of France.  Competing as individuals, Andrew Nicholson and New York finished fifth, putting a Kiwi in four out of the top five positions plus a second team gold medal.  Vaughn Jefferis and Bounce finished fourth in Rome, but they won the individual gold at the Hague when the team finished sixth.  Blyth Tait and the Master, Mark Todd were a dangerous duo, riding for NZL on both gold medal winning occasions.  Tait won the individual gold in 1990 on Messiah and won again in Rome riding Ready Teddy.

Watching Eventing VHS tapes as a kid, I remember listening to commentary about Blyth Tait and Ready Teddy.  The chestnut fireball could be very unpredictable, but he was always ready to go eventing. 

The United States has been nothing if not consistent during their WEG experience.  They’ve finished in fourth place as a team three times, and there is nearly always a US rider placed in the top four individually.  The US finally rode for gold in 2002 at Jerez Le Frontera, Spain.  The experienced team included: John Williams and Carrick, Kimberly Vinoski (Severson) and Winsome Adante, David and Giltedge, and Amy and Poggio II.  USA did not have any individual medal winners that year, but three US riders finished in the top 10.  At the Hague, USA did not finish as a team, but Dorothy Trapp (now Crowell) and Molokai brought home individual silver, and Karen  and Biko finished eleventh.

Biko was inducted into the Eventing Hall of Fame in 2006.  His heart and personality are as big as he is.

France has also been an extremely consistent team at the WEG, winning team silver three in a row at the Hague, Rome, and Jerez.  They placed sixth and seventh in the remaining games.  Consistent, though not brilliant, individual scores kept the French team in the medals.  Jean Lou Bigot and Jean Teulere rode for France together at the Hague where they placed sixth and eight respectively.  Jean Lou Bigot rode Twist de la Beige in Rome, finishing 17th.  Jean Teulere and Espoir de la Mare won individual gold in Jerez, and also competed at Aachen.
Great Britain has won a team medal at every single WEG to date: 1 gold, 2 silvers, 2 bronze.  Team GBR won at the Hague.  Karen Dixon and Get Smart placed third individually and Mary Thomson and King William finished fourth.  Not only do the Brits give their competition a run for a team medal, but they nearly always have an individual medal winner.  Zara Phillips and Toytown won the individual gold at Aachen, and the team won silver.  
Eventing WEG Medal Count
NZL: 2 team, 4 ind
GBR: 5 team, 4 ind
FRA: 3 team, 1 ind
USA: 1 team, 3 ind
GER: 2 team, 0 ind
FRG: 1 team, 0 ind
AUS: 1 team, 1 ind
SWE: 0 team, 1 ind
FIN: 0 team, 1 ind
I studied pages and pages of team and individual results from the first five Games, looking for trends and leaders, until I started seeing spots between the lines of results…I can’t begin to predict who might do well this year in Kentucky, but I’m definitely curious about the development of the selection process for the Eventing Nations.
For now I’m curious: when it comes down to the last rail in the last round, what makes a winning team?  
Stay tuned to Eventing Nation for more WEG news and answers.

Results at 

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