The Pathway to the Podium: Pratoni’s Teams — Unpacked

Chef d’equipe: Performance Pathways Manager Will Enzinger takes on the chef role. It’s a job that’s tended to move around from championship to championship – even team rider Stuart Tinney has previously worn this hat – and top-level competitor and coach Will, who cheffed in Tokyo, is forward-thinking and well-suited to the job.

Team members: 

  • Kevin McNab and Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam
  • Andrew Hoy and Vassily de Lassos
  • Shane Rose and Virgil
  • Hazel Shannon and Willingapark Clifford

Team reserve: Shenae Lowings and Bold Venture

When did they last win a medal? It’s been 16 years since Australia last won a medal at a World Championships, and on that occasion, they won two: team bronze, at Aachen in 2006, where Clayton Fredericks and Ben Along Time also took individual bronze. They also took team bronze at Gawler in 1986.

What’s their form like? Formidable. They took team silver — and an individual bronze for Andrew and Vassily — at Tokyo, and they’ve got some real cross-country bankers on their team across the board, including three-time Adelaide winners Hazel Shannon and Willingapark Clifford. It’s a team of stayers, and they can all start the week sub-30, which will put them in a serious position as they grit their teeth and work on staying on those scores.

What’s their secret weapon? A certain Mr Nelson Pessoa. The legendary Brazilian showjumper — and father of Rodrigo — has been working with the European-based Aussies for the few years to perfect their showjumping skills. Andrew Hoy based himself with Pessoa for ten days in Belgium en route to last year’s Luhmühlen Horse Trials in Germany, where he finished in the top three in the hot CCI4*-S. The team also keep in close contact with Bettina Hoy, who reviewed dressage videos and gave remote feedback throughout the constraints of the pandemic.

Chef d’equipe: Thomas Tesch.

Team members: 

  • Lea Siegl and DSP Fighting Line
  • Dr. Harald Ambros and Mountbatten 2
  • Katrin Khoddan-Hazrati and Oklahoma 2

Team reserve: None

When did they last win a medal? Austria has not yet medaled at World Championships.

What’s their form like? Austria brings forward a three-member team, which is notable as they’re the only country without a valuable drop score. This World Championships is about building on the hard work that Austria has put in as a developing eventing nation to produce a team completion. The Austrians earned an impressive sixth place at last season’s European Championships, which they would be delighted to replicate here. Olympic qualification may allude them in Pratoni, but Austrian eventing is certainly growing in strength and has it in their wheelhouse for a solid performance.

What’s their secret weapon? Lea Siegl. The 24-year-old put herself on not only Austrian eventing radar, but the world stage finishing 15th at the Tokyo Olympics. She’s here with the same ride, DSP Fighting Line, as the anchor of the Austrian team. They’re quick on the cross country and as the penultimate pair, they’ll have a day’s worth of viewing to help them determine how they best can shave seconds, which should boost their mid-30s dressage.

Chef d’equipe: Kai Steffen-Meier, who rides for Germany and is married to team member Lara de Liedekerke-Meier. Together, they host the Arville International Horse Trials at their fairytale property.

Team members: 

  • Karin Donckers and Fletcha van’t Verahof
  • Senne Vervaecke and Google van Alsingen
  • Lara de Liedekerke-Meier and Hermione d’Arville
  • Jarno Verwimp and Mahalia

Team reserve: Maarten Boon and Gravin van Cantos

When did they last win a medal? Belgium has not yet medaled at World Championships.

What’s their form like? Belgium were disappointed not to nab a spot at Tokyo after a tense showdown with Switzerland at the 2019 Nations Cup finale, and so their form is that of a nation that’s rebuilding itself over an Olympic cycle. The goal here will be to try to get as close as possible to securing their spot for Tokyo, and get valuable mileage into their horses, and they’re splitting their focus between some serious experience — Karin Donckers and Fletcha have a huge amount of team mileage, as does Lara, though her horse is just nine years old and inexperienced. In the addition of Senne and Jarno, who’s just 21, we’re seeing a commitment to nurturing the young guns of the squad, which is a savvy way to lay foundations for the future.

What’s their secret weapon? The power of serious team spirit. Not only are those experienced gals here to help their younger counterparts through, but 25-year-old Senne Vervaecke and individual rider Marten Boon have a long backstory together, too: Marten used to groom for Senne’s father, Kris, and babysat a young Senne. Now, Senne coaches Marten’s son. There’s a lot to be said for the kind of deeply-rooted confidence that bonds like that can bring to the table.

Chef d’equipe: Julie Purgly, although the Brazilian team largely operates under their own steam and in their own systems.

Team members: 

  • Ruy Fonseca and Ballypatrick SRS
  • Carlos Parro and Goliath
  • Marcio Carvalho Jorge and Kilcoltrim Kit Kat
  • Marcelo Tosi and Glenfly

Team reserve: None.

When did they last win a medal? Brazil has not yet medaled at a World Championships.

What’s their form like? They finished seventh at their home Games in Rio, a respectable spot halfway down the order considering that only one of the team logged a clear cross-country round. They fared slightly worse at the 2018 WEG, finishing 15th in that strong competition. Their team features two fairly inexperienced horses, plus one very experienced horse in Glenfly, so the aim likely won’t be to try to make a competitive mark – rather, this is a building block. They’re last to go in the drawn order of teams, and so they’ll get plenty of opportunity to see how the competition is playing out and plan accordingly.

What’s their secret weapon? William Fox-Pitt, who stepped in to help coach the team a few months ago and will assist them this week.

Chef d’equipe: Rebecca Howard, who was a stalwart of the Canadian team herself, finishing tenth at the Rio Olympics on Riddle Master.

Team members: 

  • Holly Jacks and Candy King
  • Mike Winter and El Mundo
  • Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes
  • Hawley Awad and Jolly

Team reserve: Dana Cooke and FE Mississippi

When did they last win a medal? Team silver in 2010, and a gold in 1978, the famously tough championships in Lexington.

What’s their form like? Canada has had checkered performances as a team in recent years, with many citing complaints about mismanagement from the top, but early this year Equestrian Canada rolled out the rider-driven Canadian Eventing High Performance Advisory Group with the goal of revamping the country’s High Performance program. The goal this week will be consolidation and getting a team score on the board, laying a foundation that can be built upon for the future. They won’t want to miss another Olympics, and while a top seven finish might not be that easy to grab, they’ll be quietly hoping the USA nails it here so they can use the Pan-Am Games qualification route as a way to get to Paris.

What’s their secret weapon? Diversity of location. That means that each rider has their own system that works for them, so they can take confidence in that and lean on it while Equestrian Canada is in a limbo period. They’ll feel less lost at sea that way. Also of note — though not a secret weapon — is the team’s commitment to honouring Canada’s indigenous peoples, which you’ll spot in a variety of ways in their attire through the week.

Chef d’equipe: Thierry Touzaint – uncle of rider Nicolas – continues his long reign as head of the French team. He’s tasted gold now, and will want to do so again.

Team members: 

  • Nicolas Touzaint and Absolut Gold HDC
  • Astier Nicolas and Alertamalib’or
  • Tom Carlile and Darmagnac de Beliard
  • Gaspard Maksud and Zaragoza

Team reserve: Cyrielle Lefevre and Armanjo Serosah

When did they last win a medal? They took team bronze in 2018 at Tryon, and have previously won silver at Punchestown in 1970, and again at Gawler in 1986, The Hague in 1994, here at Pratoni in 1998, and at Jerez in 2002. They’ve also had a World Champion in Jean Teulere, who took gold in 2002.

What’s their form like? Quietly excellent. They always seem to get the job done at Championships, despite never being particularly highly tipped in the lead-up. They were Olympic gold medalists at the Rio Olympics in 2016, and took bronze at Tokyo last year. Their riders are young, as are their horses, but there’s plenty of experience in their ranks and some serious talent to play with. All these horses would be ready to peak at Paris in 2024, which is undoubtedly the aim — but don’t underestimate their ability to get the job done this week.

What’s their secret weapon? Youth and hunger. These guys will dig deep and get agricultural if they need to, because the world truly is their oyster and it’s all to come.

Chef d’equipe: Prof. Dr. Jens Adolphsen takes on chef duties, ably assisted by team trainer Peter Thomsen, a former team rider in his own right, who tackles his first Championships solo after shadowing long-term chef d’equipe Hans Melzer for the last eighteen months or so. Now, Hans is enjoying his retirement, and Peter’s time to shine has come with a very strong team to hand.

Team members: 

  • Sandra Auffarth and Viamant du Matz
  • Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH
  • Christoph Wahler and Carjatan S
  • Julia Krajewski and Amande de b’Neville

Team reserve: Alina Dibowski and Barbados 26

When did they last win a medal? The Germans won team gold in 2014 at Normandy and 2006 at Aachen, silver at Luhmühlen in 1982 and Lexington in 1978 (both as West Germany), and bronze at The Hague in 1994, Stockholm in 1990, and Burghley in 1974 (again as the West German team). They also have a pretty good record of getting individual gold, with two of the last three World Champions coming from

What’s their form like? Excellent, though their period of championship dominance is rather behind them. They’re still an enormous threat, and will be Great Britain’s big threat this week. Their team is formidable this week, as is their 21-year-old individual competitor. The Germans are hungry to be back on top, and they won’t let a medal slip through their fingers easily.

What’s their secret weapon? Marcus Döhring, the team’s showjumping coach, who looks like something directly out of a Jilly Cooper novel. His significance can’t be understated at this Championship: the showjumping track will be seriously influential, as it’s on an undulating grass arena and designed by a Grand Prix showjumping designer who will amp up the technicality and make the best use of the space. If it doesn’t go to plan and you need a shoulder to cry on, Herr Döhring, EN is around…

Chef d’equipe: Chris Bartle and Richard Waygood, who both joined the team in late 2016 after a disappointing Rio performance a few months prior. Since then, the team has gone from strength to strength, and it’s no suprise: Chris Bartle was previously the architect of Germany’s success, and Richard Waygood helmed the British dressage team during its extraordinary trajectory from zero to hero.

Team members: 

  • Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class
  • Laura Collett and London 52
  • Ros Canter and Lordships Graffalo
  • Tom McEwen and Toledo de Kerser

Team reserve: Yasmin Ingham and Banzai du Loir

When did they last win a medal? Team gold in 2018, 2010, 1994, 1986, 1982, 1970, silver in 74, 90, 2006, 2014, bronze in 2002, 1998

What’s their form like? On top of the world. The Brits currently hold team gold at the Olympics, World Championships, European Championships, Young Rider Europeans, and Junior Europeans, meaning that the Pony European team gold is the only one they don’t have in their clutches. They also have the reigning World Champion and European Champion. They come into this competition as the firm favourites to win again.

What’s their secret weapon? Pure confidence. The Brits have been on such good form for a period of several years now, and there’s an untouchable sort of confidence that comes with knowing that you really are that good. They’ll be riding that wave as they work to retain their title.

Chef d’equipe: Two-time Swedish Olympian Dag Albert, who joined Horse Sport Ireland as Eventing Team Manager just last month.

Team members: 

  • Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue
  • Padraig McCarthy and Fallulah
  • Susannah Berry and Monbeg by Design
  • Sam Watson and SAP Talisman

Team reserve: Felicity Ward and Regal Bounty

When did they last win a medal? They took team silver in 2018, as well as individual silver for Padraig McCarthy and Mr Chunky. They also won the first ever World Championships team gold at Burghley in 1966. They’ve had a couple of other individual medals in their time, too — including a silver for Sam Watson’s father John Watson at Lexington 1978, and a bronze for  Virginia Freeman-Jackson at the first World Championships in 1966.

What’s their form like? Irish riders have certainly been making great strides. Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue were thirteenth at Tokyo last year; Padraig McCarthy and Fallulah were second after cross-country at Pau (though the showjumping proved an issue there). Susie Berry has been seriously impressive, particularly at Badminton this spring, though her ride this week is inexperienced, and Sam Watson is a real banker on the cross-country. As a team, it’s something of a building process — the results aren’t consistent on the world stage, but every championship is a step towards figuring out a system that works.

What’s their secret weapon? Tracie Robinson, who has been such a significant part of the British efforts as team dressage trainer. Ian Woodhead stepped down from the role at the onset of Covid, so he could focus his attentions on his business and family in England, and Tracie is a worthy replacement: she’s coached the Brits at four Olympics and numerous other championships. Oh, and of some help? Sam Watson’s EquiRatings. The data analysis company has been able to pull performance stats that the team can use to make valuable marginal gains.

Chef d’equipe: Giacomo Della Chiesa, who himself rode at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

Team members: 

  • Giovanni Ugolotti and Duke of Champions
  • Evelina Bertoli and Fidjy des Melezes
  • Susanna Bordone and Imperial van de Holtakkers
  • Arianna Schivo and Quefira de l’Ormeau
  • Marco Capper and Uter

Team reserve: Evelina Bertoli and Fidjy des Melezes

When did they last win a medal? Italy has not yet medaled at World Championships.

What’s their form like? Italy has the honor of hosting this year’s World Championships, fielding a talented and experienced squad for Pratoni. The Italians have won medals here before – they’ve thrice won bronze as a team at previous iterations of what would typically be labeled the World Equestrian Games – but they haven’t quite managed to catch the higher podium tiers yet.

The team for Pratoni will return two members of the Tokyo Olympic team in Susanna Bordonne and Arianne Schivo, both of whom will bring their Tokyo horses (Imperial van de Holtakkers and Quefira de L’Ormeu). Evelina Bertoli also makes her return to the senior championship squad for the first time since the 2014 WEG in Tryon. Marco Cappai, who last competed in a world championship in 2010 and also represented Italy in the 1996 Olympics, adds more breadth of experience to the team, as does 2014 WEG rider Giovanni Ugolotti. 

While this team would be a longer shot to duke it out for the podium, it’s smart not to count out the host country whose horses and riders will be the most familiar with the venue and conditions.

What’s their secret weapon? Home team advantage. There’s much to be said for the intangibles of the sport, like the roars of a patriotic crowd, and they’ll benefit from this on Saturday.

Chef d’equipe: Laurent Bousquet heads up the good ship Team Japan after a stint as France’s coach. He’s been in the role since 2016, having done a stretch from 1991 to 2004 as well.

Team members: 

  • Kazuma Tomoto and Vinci de la Vigne JRA
  • Ryuzo Kitajima and Cekatinka JRA
  • Yoshiaki Oiwa and Calle 44
  • Toshiyuki Tanaka and Swiper JRA

Team reserve: None.

When did they last win a medal? Japan has not yet medaled at a World Championships.

What’s their form like? Good, but perhaps not consistent enough to really take down the big boys. But don’t think that doesn’t mean they can’t medal: they spent years honing their system with Tokyo in mind, and they’re still benefitting from that hard work now. Kazuma Tomoto was fourth individually at Tokyo last year, and could well medal here — and if everything works in their favour, they could medal as a team. It’s a fairly safe bet that they should grab their Paris qualification here, anyway, and that requires a top seven placing (or top eight, if France is within that number, as they automatically qualify for Paris as the host nation).

What’s their secret weapon? It’s not so secret, really, but it’s chef d’equipe Laurent – or, in this case, his contacts in France. He’s been instrumental in the Tokyo pathway and beyond for the team since 2016, not just by orchestrating training and competition schedules but by using his French connections to secure some exceptional horses from his fellow countrymen, including Vinci de la Vigne, originally piloted by Astier Nicolas. Other excellent horses sourced for Japanese riders include Rio gold medallist Bart L, originally ridden by Mathieu Lemoine and now ridden by Yoshi Oiwa, and Ventura de la Chaule, who moved from Nicolas Touzaint to Atsushi Negishi.

Chef d’equipe: The great Jock Paget, who’s joined by 2014 Badminton winner and former Aussie team stalwart Sam Griffiths, who hung up his boots and moved to team trainer life this year.

Team members: 

  • Monica Spencer and Artist
  • Tim Price and Falco
  • Jonelle Price and McClaren
  • Clarke Johnstone and Menlo Park

Team reserve: Amanda Pottinger and Just Kidding

When did they last win a medal? 2010: that was a team bronze in Lexington. They also won team gold at WEG Stockholm in 1990 and Rome in 1998.

What’s their form like? A mixed bag of fresh faces and veteran riders received the call-up for this Championship’s Kiwi squad. They’ve been unlucky at championships in recent years, which is something of a surprise when you consider how formidable the Prices are in any given international. They improved upon a 7th place finish at the last World Championships to 5th in Tokyo last summer, but they’ll need to do at least that well to secure their spot in the next Olympic cycle.

What’s their secret weapon? 

Monica Spencer. Monica’s traveled over 18,000 kilometers for her team debut with the thoroughbred Artist. Monica and “Max” are a forced to be reckoned with back home, but Pratoni will be their first crack at challenging the likes of the field of the Northern Hemisphere. The pair have shared several wins including most notably the CCI4*-L at Puhinui where they finished on their dressage score of 25.5.

Chef d’equipe: Pedro Rey.

Team members: 

  • Gonzalo Blasco Botin and Sij Veux d’Autize
  • Esteban Benitez Valle and Milana 23
  • Carlos Diaz Fernandez and Taraje CP 21.10
  • Antonio Cejudo Caro and Duque HSM

Team reserve: None.

When did they last win a medal? Spain has not yet medalled at a World Championships.

What’s their form like? As a team, they’re very much in the development stages. The results aren’t consistent enough at this stage to pose any real threat, but they have a team full of riders who are working hard to lay strong foundations and ride talented young horses (with the notable exception of 18-year-old Milana 23, but the mileage she offers Esteban this week will be put straight into practice on his young Paris prospects, including the very talented Utrera AA).

What’s their secret weapon? Trailblazing. Not in a pathfinding sense in this competition, but because the Spanish system doesn’t have roots like the ‘big six’ nations do, every championship is a chance for riders, coaches, and Spanish federation officials alike to refine and adapt what they’re doing in a collaborative way. They’ll learn a huge amount here.

Chef d’equipe: Dominik Burger

Team members: 

  • Nadja Minder and Toblerone
  • Mélody Johner and Toubleu de Rueire
  • Felix Vogg and Cartania
  • Roben Godel and Grandeur de Lully CH

Team reserve: Patrick Rüegg and Fifty Fifty

When did they last win a medal? The Swiss haven’t yet won a medal at a World Championships, but they took team silver and individual bronze at the 1960 Olympics.

What’s their form like? The Swiss team has gone from strength to strength this season, and will hopefully peak here in Pratoni. They bring forward the advantage of individual and team gold achieved in the Nations Cup test event earlier this summer, which not only give the team a nod of confidence, but also valuable intel of the property and Giuseppe Della Chiesa’s use of it. Their red-hot form continued over the summer, as they won the Avenches Nations Cup for the home fans.

Their rising generation of talent has added to their momentum, taking them from the last country to qualify for Rio to potential threats. The 24-year-old Robin Godel won individual gold at the Avenches Nations Cup and the 32-year-old Felix Vogg won Luhmühlen over the summer — breaking a 60-year dry spell for Swiss five-star wins.

What’s their secret weapon? Andrew Nicholson. He has been a major catalyst for the Swiss since joining on as cross county coach in 2018. It’s a job he clearly adores, and the young Swiss team are flourishing under his intuitive instruction. Andrew’s mantra is ‘never change a winning team’ – and so he’s worked to support each rider’s current system and tweak the bits that need help, rather than do a total overhaul.

Chef d’equipe: British-based Fredrik Bergendorff, who has proven a solid captain for the Swedish efforts so far (and also wears a pair of chinos exceptionally well).

Team members: 

  • Malin Josefsson and Golden Midnight
  • Sofia Sjoborg and Bryjamolga van het Marienshof Z
  • Aminda Ingulfson and Joystick
  • Frida Andersen and Box Leo

Team reserve: Niklas Lindbäck and Focus Filiocus

When did they last win a medal? They’ve never medalled as a team at a World Championships, though they do have one individual medallist in their books in Paula Törnqvist, who took bronze in Rome in 1998. Their Olympic form is a different story, though a historical one, too: Sweden were the dominant force in eventing in the early 20th century, and it was at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics that eventing as a sport made its debut. They were the gold medallists there, of course, and at Antwerp in 1920, and then they took silver at Paris in 1924. They disappeared for a couple of decades from the podium but returned for silver at London 1948, gold at Helsinki 1952… and then the reign of Sweden as eventing’s most formidable team was over. Now, it’s a case of rebuilding.

What’s their form like? The Swedes have been consistent in the Nations Cup series, which is held at CCI4*-S and culminates at the CCI4*-L level at Boekelo. They’re very good at pinning down the series win, partly because they make sure to show up for as many legs as they can — and now they’re working on taking that consistency up to championship level. Their weakness at the moment is the dressage, and they’ve pulled in great help to work on this — but their team is based between the UK and Sweden, so the cohesiveness is tricky. They’ve stepped onto the podium at European Championships, which is a CCI4*-L competition, and while they probably won’t do that here, they’ll be girding their loins to try to secure that Paris qualification nice and early so they don’t have to chase their tails and try to qualify through the Nations Cups again.

What’s their secret weapon? Technology. Fred Bergendorff made the best of a bad situation in the pandemic and created a structure of virtual training, bringing in exceptional coaches to help sharpen the Swedish game and build camaraderie.

Chef d’equipe: Bobby Costello, who’s acting as interim chef until after the Championships. He rode at the top level himself, representing Team USA at the 2000 Olympics.

Team members: 

  • Will Coleman and Off The Record
  • Tamie Smith and Mai Baum
  • Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus
  • Boyd Martin and Tseterleg

Team reserve: Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan

When did they last win a medal? They took team gold in 2002, and prior to that, we saw them take gold at Burghley in 1974. They’ve also won bronze at Luhmühlen in 1982 and Lexington in 1978.

What’s their form like? It’s safe to say that it’s on the up and up, despite a period of turbulence in the management sphere of the high performance camp. The US has been performing better and better on the world stage, with a team silver at Aachen last year (and a historic first-ever US individual win, taken by Will and Off The Record) and team silver at the Nations Cup finale at Boekelo, too. This feels like the strongest US team in a long time, and realistically, they really ought to take a medal this week. There’s a good case for them taking more than one, too — their riders have what it takes to fight the big boys individually. Could this be the beginning of a renaissance for US eventing? We reckon so.

What’s their secret weapon? In a strange way, it’s probably this limbo period. The US system is due a rejig, and there’s compelling reason to believe that the sort of Wild West that it finds itself in at the moment will allow riders to lay their own roots in terms of structure, coming together as a unified group with their own systems that work for them. Erik Duvander is on site coaching a couple of the riders, and everyone looks to be sticking to what has served them well as individuals, which could pay dividends and lead to a new way of doing things going forward.

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