Pratoni Pick ‘Em: EN Makes Their FEI World Championships Predictions + How You Can Play and Win!

It’s nearly go time for the 2022 FEI World Championships for Eventing! We’ll kick things off in earnest tomorrow (Wednesday) with the First Horse Inspection, and today the chefs for each team will meet and a draw will take place to determine order of go for the teams (in fact, that’s probably happened by the time you read this!).

As is tradition here on EN, our team has put their collective nerd hat on and has submitted their picks for teams and individuals to beat this week, along with a “Dark Horse” pick. For these World Championships, we invite you to play along too!

To participate, please fill in your picks for TEAM GOLD and INDIVIDUAL GOLD, along with the finishing score for each using the entry form at the bottom of this page. Ties will be broken using score predictions — the closest to the finishing score without going over will win in the event of a tie.

Up for grabs is a prize bundle containing:

(Note: One primary U.S.-based winner will be drawn from correct picks to receive the grand prize. Additionally, one international-based winner will also be drawn to receive a bundle of EN Merch! Prizes will be drawn the week of September 19 and the winners will be announced in News & Notes and notified via email.)

Need help making your picks? Check out the list of Definite Entries here and EN’s Ultimate Guide to FEI World Championships here. You can also check out our team’s picks below.

Entries are due by midnight EST on Thursday, September 15. Use the entry form at the bottom of this post or click here if it isn’t visible in your browser!

FEI World Championships for Eventing:
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Has anyone ever seen Oliver Townend jump for joy before?! A historic moment, indeed. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

SHELBY ALLEN

Team Gold: Great Britain

If consensus is any evidence, then just keep reading below to see who our team almost unanimously thinks will take the whole bag. Great Britain has arguably the strongest teams coming forward this week, and though we don’t yet know who will ride as the individual, they basically can’t pick wrong — this team is a whose who of top five-star finishers.

Reigning world champion Ros Canter’s Lordships Graffalo may be green in age, but he’s freaky competitive and a second-place finish at Badminton this spring sealed the deal for their place this week. Oliver Townend is a stalwart of the British team and he’s massively competitive, especially aboard previous Kentucky CCI5*-L winner Ballaghmor Class.

Speaking of competitive, Laura Collett and her best buddy London 52 are headed to Italy with a recent Badminton win in their pocket alongside British Eventing  up-and-comer Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir, who were second at Kentucky this spring.

Individual Gold: Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser 

I notably skipped one member of my team gold pick, Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser. An unlucky tumble ended their Badminton weekend early this spring, sadly too, considering they were sitting in second on 23.4. Toledo is a keenly athletic horse, and the terrain shouldn’t bother this pair, so I’m hoping he’ll keep fighting through to the very last fence.

Dark Horse: Team USA 

Every championship is a massive deal for the U.S. team who have seemed to be perennial underdogs in recent history, but I like to think this year is different. I think we have a healthy mix of seasoned vets, new faces and an extra crate of tannerite in the trailer to spark it all off.

I’m excited to see Ariel Grald given this huge opportunity with Leamore Master Plan. To take your “first upper level horse” to a World Championships is the stuff of miracles. We can expected polished, competitive rides from the stalwarts of Boyd Martin, Lauren Nicholson and Will Coleman. And if the stars align, we may see Tamie Smith and the unicorn Mai Baum up on the individual podium when all is done too.

Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser (pictured at WEG in 2018) will look to send Team GB to the top of the podium once more. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

TILLY BERENDT

Team Gold: Team GB

The British squad is TERRIFYINGLY good, once again, and they’ll head to Italy with the confidence of a nation that holds basically every gold medal there is to win at the moment (except the Pony European team gold, but we’ll allow that). I think Germany’s going to give them a serious run for their money, though, and it’ll come right down to the wire over a tough, terrain-y showjumping track on Sunday. One of those two teams will win — by the tiniest of margins.

Individual Gold: A who’s who of top finishers

It’s going to be a head to head between Michael Jung and the ineffable fischerChipmunk FRH and Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser, for me. Laura Collett and London 52 have an enormous chance, but we’ve not yet seen ‘Dan’ tackle terrain like this (and he had a hold mid-round at Badminton, so it’s enough of a question mark) — but Toledo has stay for days and looks at his absolute peak after that whoopsy at Badminton this spring. That said, though, there’s no part of me that would be surprised if Germany’s Christoph Wahler snuck in and sealed the deal with Carjatan S. They’re incredible on the flat, and can go sub-25, and the gelding is a real stayer. He peaks in the second half of the season, and generally show jumps exceptionally well. They’ve got everything it takes to get it done.

Dark Horse: Vive la France

It feels like cheating to refer to the French as a ‘dark horse’ front – but they do always seem to sneak out of nowhere to get the job done. This year’s squad is full of new faces and young horses, but when you start to delve into their results and recent performances, you’ll realise they’re an incredibly formidable bunch. I’m particularly excited to see UK-based Gaspard Maksud make his championship debut with Zaragoza, a nine-year-old who’s been extraordinarily impressive. They were right up there in the final selection trial at Haras du Pin — or Diet Pratoni — and could really put their names on the map this week. I’m also enormously excited to see what the Swiss team does this week, and I think we should see them nab their Olympic qualification here pretty easily — a huge step up for this developing eventing nation.

Tom Carlile’s exciting Darmagnac de Beliard at Bramham. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

AMANDA CHANCE

Team Gold: Team France

Tempting to go for the obvious choice with Team GB (the depth of their team is incredible) but where’s the fun in that?!? Plus I think it’s safe to say that if there’s something we’ve all learned in the past decade or so, it’s that the French tend to fly under the radar then pop up out of seemingly nowhere and do really well in team competition. You can never count them out, plus I’m a Tom Carlisle mega fangirl, so… Vive la France!

Individual Gold: Andrew Hoy and Vassily de Lassos

This is the best cross country horse in the world right now (fight me, it’s a hill I’m100% willing to die on) and King of the FOD. He won’t be at the top after dressage, but I’m hoping the jumping phases have a heavy influence. To me Vassily is everything an event horse should be, an absolute joy to watch, and I can’t wait to see him eat up Pratoni – hopefully he gets some nice shiny golden hardware to hang up alongside his Olympic silver!

Dark Horse: Team Japan

This one is purely sentimental but I would love nothing more than to see Team Japan make it onto the podium. It was gutting to see them not finish a team on their home turf in Tokyo after putting in so many years worth of prep just for that occasion, and I think they’ll be seeking some redemption. Hopefully the eventing gods are on their side!

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum are textbook over Badminton’s beefiest showjumping track. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

TALEEN HANNA

Team Gold: Team USA

I may be a little biased since I live in the U.S., but Team USA has an overall solid team and might be capable of pulling it out this week.

Individual Gold: Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH

Michael is an all-time favorite of mine and I feel like it’s a pretty safe choice to put my bets on him winning!

Dark Horse: Tamie Smith and Mai Baum

They have been working extra hard — especially lately. I think they might surprise us!

Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir. Photo by Abby Powell.

EMA KLUGMAN

Team Gold: Germany

It’s always hard to bet against the Germans, and this year they really seem to have a strong team with horses and riders with strengths in all three phases. Occasionally in the past the cross country has caught them out (i.e. in Tokyo, when they suffered from a mistake on cross country and only had three riders with the Olympic format), but I think having a drop score at the Worlds will mean that they are virtually bulletproof, even if one of their team riders does have a problem on cross country.

Individual Gold: Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir

As a young professional in our sport of eventing, I find it awe-inspiring that Yasmin was not only competitive enough at the top level to make a senior team, but also made the British team, which is arguably the most competitive to be selected for, given the country’s strength and depth. As she did at Kentucky this spring, where she finished second, this young woman seems to show up to play and to win. Her horse doesn’t appear to have a weakness, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on the individual podium, if not atop it.

Dark Horse: Tamie Smith and Mai Baum

A literal “dark horse,” the striking black gelding has the capability to win the dressage and add nothing to that score if everything goes their way in each phase of competition. If they can do that, it may be a real fairytale weekend for this long-term partnership.

Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

ABBY POWELL

Team Gold: Is Team GB the strongest in the world right now? Is the sky blue? Do dogs bark?

Individual Gold: Ros Canter defends her title

Perhaps this is going a bit out on a limb since he’s such a young horse and of course there is such formidable competition even on their own team, but I think Ros Canter< will defend her title as World Champion with the 10-year-old Lordships Graffalo. This pair has already shown impressive consistency and garnered a number of top placings, including second place at Badminton this spring at the gelding’s 5* debut. I mean, c’mon.

Dark Horse: Andrew Hoy and Vassily de Lassos

Speaking of consistency…Vassily de Lassos, Andrew Hoy’s FOD unicorn, will never be far off the front. While he doesn’t hit the lower 20s dressage scores, this horse is a jumping freak in the best possible way. Let this blow your mind: he’s only accrued 1.2 total jumping phase penalties in all his FEI starts over the last three years. If everyone else is having a bit of trouble in the later two phases, then this pair will steal the title.

Andrew Hoy and Vassily de Lassos. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

SALLY SPICKARD

Team Gold: A head-to-head between the Brits and the Germans

It won’t be surprising to see the defending World and Olympic champion British duke it out with the equally impressive German team this week — at this juncture, it’s really anyone’s call as to who will be the last standing atop the podium. I think this event will, more than some others, come down to cross country and its unique challenge that’s sure to feature “thinking questions” from designer Giuseppe della Chiesa. Add in a healthy amount of Italian terrain and a dash of heat and humidity, and we’ve got conditions that will warrant endurance and horsemanship above all else.

But this championship will be won on brains, not brawn. As Giuseppe told Tilly, “A tired horse on a hill will not finish; he just stops. He says, ‘I’ve had enough’. But a tired horse on flat ground, if the rider has a bit of a brain, has the chance of a softer route to bring him home. I didn’t use that so much in the short-format competition, but in the long-format, I will. I’ve always been a big believe that you must do hills early on and finish flat.”

Individual Gold: Andrew Hoy and Vassily de Lassos

It feels a bit silly to bet against the fischerChipmunks, London 52s, Amande de B’Nevilles, and Ballaghmor Classes of the world, but I — along with many of our team members here — have a good feeling about Andrew Hoy’s magical unicorn, Vassily de Lassos. Skip on down to Abby’s write-up about Vassily de Lassos’ nearly impeccable cross country record, which speaks for itself. Andrew benefitted from a hold on cross country in Tokyo, but likely could have caught the tricky time regardless of that and would go on to collect an individual and a team medal for Australia that week. Andrew’s chosen his competition schedule for the 13-year-old Anglo-Arab gelding — whose breeding will also be bonus for this event — smartly, picking events where his horse’s versatility and rideability can truly shine. This pair was fifth in the 4*-L (different cross country designer) at Pratoni in 2020 and will lead the charge for the Australians this week.

Dark Horse: Team USA

The all-important Olympic qualification is on the line for all countries fielding a team at Pratoni. The top seven teams — excluding host country France, should they finish in this realm — will collect their qualification berth for Paris, taking the pressure off for the next couple of years. While this is the foundational goal, Team USA won’t be going into Pratoni with *just* a qualification in mind — they’ve put together one of the strongest teams in recent memory and are heading into championship week with medals on the mind.

Under the guidance of interim chef d’equipe Bobby Costello, the mix of new faces and experience on the U.S. team bring a wealth of recent successes to the table. Team USA has not achieved the results it’s sought in the past few championship and Olympic cycles — could this be the week of the turnaround?

In particular, I’m keen to see the very experienced Tsetserleg take a spin around this cross country track, and I also look forward to the Anglo-Arab Vermiculus’ performance for Lauren Nicholson — this is another pair that, to my eye at least, seems perfectly suited to this type of track. And of course, you’ve got the 2021 Aachen winners (Will Coleman and Off the Record) as well as the guaranteed-to-dazzle Mai Baum and the consistent Leamore Master Plan sporting the stars and stripes this week, and I for one think we could be looking at a podium team if things go well for the Americans.

Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

GILLIAN WARNER

Team Gold: Great Britain

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the British team defend their title from Tryon in 2018. With an incredibly experienced and impressive team in Laura Collett, Ros Canter, Oliver Townend, Tom McEwen, and Yasmin Ingham, the British team is bringing some hard hitters, consistent pairings, and a talented senior team debutante in Yasmin Ingham. I’d expect this team to leave a massive impression.

Individual Gold: Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH

Every time I think I’ve selected my pick for individual gold, I think of yet another strong pair, or factor to consider. It just goes to show how intensely exciting this week will be! Not particularly surprising, but Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH are top of my list. However, could we see a similar showing as Kentucky this past spring? With Yasmin Ingham’s remarkable showing in Kentucky, her senior team debut could be similarly competitive.

Dark Horse: Team Switzerland

I’m keeping a close eye on the Swiss team this week… with impressive performances at Avenches in July AND Pratoni in May, the team riders are in the midst of a hot streak. I’m looking forward to seeing what these riders can do at Pratoni this time around!

Now it’s your turn! Submit your picks below or here by midnight EST on Thursday, September 15 to be eligible to win. Can’t see the embedded post below? Click here to enter.

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Want more Pratoni news? Head over to our Ultimate Guide to FEI World Championships for Eventing, and be sure to sign up for the #Pratoni2022 Daily Digest email, which will begin delivering to your inbox daily on Tuesday, September 13.

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