Competing at the World Equestrian Games is an unbelievable accomplishment and a true honor to represent one’s country in such a hallowed competition. Success at the CCI4* level is such a fleeting feat, but repeated triumphs at the highest level are what dreams are made of. The horses and riders we idolize are the ones that can go out for years and stay competitive at the top level, and we recognize that this kind of accomplishment is very rare indeed.
With WEG just three weeks away, we found it fitting to highlight the horses and riders who have had the honor of competing at more than one World Equestrian Games, specifically those who competed in 2010 and are coming back for more. Not only are these riders incredibly talented to stay at the top of their game, but the ability to keep a four-star horse sound throughout the years as well as continuing to be competitive is an enviable skill unto itself. You’ll be surprised how many competitors are making a repeat appearance.
Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM: One of only eight combinations making a mutual return to WEG, Buck and Reggie are truly in a class above. Reggie certainly qualifies as one of America’s sweethearts, and Buck has been waiting a long time for some well-deserved success with this horse in the international setting. In 2010, they were unfortunately thwarted by an uncharacteristic stop on cross country, which left them in 42nd place at the conclusion of the competition. Reggie just finished third at Rolex this spring and has looked better than ever this year. Bonus points: Buck & Reggie were alternates for the 2008 Olympic Games.
Phillip Dutton and Trading Aces: This will certainly be Oscar’s first time to the dance, but Phillip is considered a Team USA stalwart. The United States eventing squad has had him on the team for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Kentucky WEG in 2010 and the London Olympics in 2012. And, before that, he competed for Australia in thee Olympics and four World Championships. Last time around, he rode the beautiful Woodburn and was 18th overall. This will be Phillip’s sixth WEG.
Boyd Martin and Shamwari 4: Boyd competed in his first championships for Team USA at the 2010 WEG with his much-loved Thoroughbred partner Neville Bardos, finishing 10th as the highest-placed American combination. Now he returns with his new ride Shamwari 4, who joined Boyd’s program this past winter after being purchased from Ludwig Svennerstal. Though their preparation has not been ideal with Boyd breaking his leg in March, that hasn’t seemed to matter much, as Boyd and Shamwari finished third at Luhmühlen CCI4* in their first major competition together. Expect greatness from this pair in Normandy.
Hawley Bennett-Awad and Gin & Juice: Beloved world-over, there is simply something about Ginny’s enthusiasm for life (and specifically cross country) that makes us all fall a little in love. This pair will be going for their eighth CCI4* — holy cow! They join the ranks of the “Elite Eight” who are making back-to-back WEG appearances, having placed 17th at the 2010 Kentucky WEG with a 52.5 on the flat and nothing to add. They were 16th this spring at Rolex with a little bit of an exuberant dressage test and bounced back to nab fourth place at Rebecca Farm CIC3*. They got some experience with Pierre Michelet last fall at Pau CCI4*, where they placed 16th.
Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High: Selena will be contesting her second WEG competition, having enjoyed her last go around with her longtime partner Colombo, who sadly just recently passed away. They were 12th together in 2010, finishing on their dressage score with a giant smile. Foxwood High is relatively new to the level, having just moved up to the CCI4* level at Rolex this spring, where he placed 10th with a 56.8 in dressage and only 2.6 total time penalties to add to that score.
Jessica Phoenix and A Little Romance: Jessie competed at the last WEG with Exponential, another Canadian horse known for exuberance over jumps. However, Tucker’s fondness for the extreme caught up with him when he launched supremely off the bounce bank in Kentucky that year and had to be withdrawn before show jumping. A Little Romance, known fondly as Blue Eyes, is only 9 this year and will be attempting her first CCI4* at the WEG after cracking around Bromont CCI3* this spring to win with only a rail to add to her dressage score of 55.8. She did the CCI2* test event last year at the same venue used for the WEG, and she’s just the type for Pierre Michelet’s twisty, fast course.
Tina Cook and De Novo News: The British eventing team is known for its competitiveness, and Tina has been a part of that for many years now, starting with her first World Equestrian Games appearance in 1994 with General Jock. Since then, she’s been an integral part of the team, competing at the 2002 WEG, the 2008 Olympics and 2010 WEG. In Kentucky, she paired with Miner’s Frolic for 29th place and team gold. De Novo News has been to Badminton twice and Burghley once, with two top-11 placings.
William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning: William really needs no introduction, being as he is quite possibly one of the most successful eventing riders in history. He has represented Team GBR consistently over the past 16 years, including medals at three Olympic Games and three World Equestrian Games. He won individual silver at the Kentucky WEG in 2010 with Cool Mountain, and while Chilli is one of his less experienced four-star mounts, he is a complete stunner and has great potential to blow us away this year.
Nicola Wilson and Annie Clover: Nicola is best known for being able to stay atop Opposition Buzz, one of the most consistent, talented jumping horses ever to be in eventing. Not only was Buzz known for his exuberant jumping style, but he graced the British team as pathfinder for many many years and numerous championships, with Nicola proving again and again that cross-country courses were doable. At the 2010 WEGs, Nicola was 15th individually. This year, she’s got the joy of taking a new partner, Annie Clover, who will be attempting her first CCI4* at the WEG. She was recently fourth at Bramham in the CCI3*, finishing on her dressage score of 49.
Andrew Nicholson and Nereo: Another member of the “Elite Eight,” this horse is the energizer bunny. Not only will this be his second WEG, but he also competed in the 2012 London Olympics, famously showing us all what a temper Nicholson can have if a rain delay comes along for dressage warm-up. When it comes to the international scene, Nereo is always the bridesmaid and never the bride, as he was third at Kentucky 2010 WEG and third again at the Olympics. I think it’s safe to say that if Andrew has to add another bronze medal to his collection, he might just blow a gasket, so he’s going to come out with all he has this year in Normandy. Watch out.
Sir Mark Todd and Leonidas II: Mark Todd has won Badminton four times, Burghley five times, was named FEI Event Rider of the 20th Century in 2000 before retiring that same year only to come back to the competition scene in 2008 and immediately start kicking all the butts. He competed in the 2010 WEG aboard Grass Valley, with whom he finished in 11th place. Leonidas made it around the incredibly tough Badminton this spring, finishing in 14th place and was recently ninth at Barbury CIC3*.
Jock Paget and Clifton Promise: Joining the ranks of the elite back-to-back WEG competitors, Jock and Promise are certainly coming with a bit of drama at their heels. You’d have to be living under a rock to not remember that were banned from the sport following a positive drug test from their win at Burghley in 2013. The FEI just exonerated him of those charges yesterday after Jock successfully proved that a contaminated supplement caused the positive drug test. They won both Badminton and Burghley last year, as well as placed seventh together at the 2010 WEG in Kentucky. While they might be a little rusty from a lack of outings this spring, this is a formidable pair, so don’t count them out.
Sam Watson and Horseware Bushman: This is another of the elite crowd of horse and rider combinations making a consecutive WEG appearance. At the 2010 Kentucky WEG, Sam and Horseware Bushman pair finished in 26th place, posting a 46 on the flat, running a clear cross-country round with 5.2 time penalties, but unfortunately rubbing four rails on Sunday, knocking them down the order a bit with 16 penalties. Last year they were 22nd at Badminton, with just a rail to add to their dressage score, and this year they’ve most recently been 15th at Tattersalls CIC3*.
Michael Jung & La Biosthetique Sam FBW: How many times does the reigning world champion come back to defend his title? How many times is that horse and rider pair also the reigning Olympic and European champion? I can’t really tell you much about these two that you don’t already know, other than to say they are on the track to making history. They’ve already shown their strength in all three phases repeatedly against the best the world has to offer, and year after year, they continue to stay on top of their game. How does Michael do it? And Sam just continues to be better and better. We’d love to see them do well here in Normandy.
Andreas Dibowski and FRH Butts Avedon: In 2010, Andreas rode Butts Leon to 46th place in the WEG. Although they had a great dressage score of 40, they suffered three stops on cross country to put themselves out of contention. Butts Avedon has attempted four CCI4* events, completing two of them, both at Luhmühlen. Last year he was ninth there, with a 48 in the dressage and two rails. However, this year his record has been back and forth between CIC2* and CIC3* competitions, and this will be his first CCI4* on one of designer Pierre Michelet’s courses.
Ingrid Klimke and FRH Escada JS: Ingrid is certainly a German team stalwart, and last time at the WEG she rode FRH Butts Abraxxas to 13th individually with a 41 in dressage, 1.6 time on cross country and Braxxi’s customary two rails in show jumping. Escada is less experienced than her previous campaigner and will be going for her first CCI4* at the WEG. She’s brilliant on the flat (like you should be surprised with Ingrid in the tack) and has almost nary a jump fault to be found on her entire record. A fun mare for the future!
Dirk Schrade and Hop and Skip: This is a really fun pair because both of them competed in the 2010 WEG, but not with one another. Dirk Schrade rode Gadget de la Cere and was unfortunately eliminated on cross country. Hop and Skip was piloted by Japanese rider Kenki Sato and as a stallion finished in 35th place. This time, he competes as a gelding with a German rider instead. Together they have completed three CCI4* competitions: Luhmühlen and Pau in 2011 and Burghley in 2012, all in the top 11 with clear jumping trips. They were recently 10th in the CIC3* at Aachen.
Chris Burton and TS Jamaimo: Last year, Chris Burton did the almost unthinkable and catch-rode a horse in a CCI4* at Adelaide, and in fairy-tale fashion came out as the winner. TS Jamaimo is that horse, and we bet you that he’s glad he took that risk a few months back. In 2010, Chris partnered with the wonderful mare Holstein Park Leilani for their first WEG together, but sadly collected two stops on cross country and finished in 48th place. However, his new partnership is going well, and they were even one of the lucky few to complete Badminton this spring, finishing in 16th place together.
Sam Griffiths and Paulank Brockagh: The real fairy tale of Badminton is these two, who rose up the ranks from 25th after dressage, delivering one of the few clean cross-country trips and just one rail in show jumping. Brocks joins the top ranks of CCI4*-winning mares and now heads to her first WEG. Sam competed in Kentucky in 2010 with Happy Times, but suffered an elimination on cross country. Following their victory at Badminton, Sam and Brocks had a slow and steady performance at Gatcombe CIC3* for 22nd place.
Paul Tapner and Kilronan: The Australians dominated at this year’s Badminton, and Paul Tapner very nearly captured his second title on this lovely grey horse. They got a 36 on the flat there and made it around the cross country in good style to lead on the last day, but sadly pulled four rails to finish in fourth place. At the 2010 WEG, Paul took that year’s Badminton winner Inonothing to compete, but retired halfway around the course. Kilronan is a real class horse, and they’ve been plagued by some bad luck, but have all the makings of a top-five pair.
Stuart Tinney and Pluto Mio: Longtime campaigner Stuart Tinney rode Vettori to an eighth-place finish at the last WEG and comes back this year with this 16-year-old grey gelding. Stuart and Pluto Mio are the only Australian pair that has actually been competing in Australia, and this will be their first real taste of European competition. They were fifth in last year’s Adelaide CCI4* with a 45 on the flat and two rails in show jumping.
Viktoria Carlerbäck and Volt Af Källstorp: Viktoria competed Bally’s Geronimo last time around for the Swedish team, ultimately placing 33rd because, although they posted a good dressage score of 51, they collected one stop on cross country to drop them down the order. Volt is a lovely 12-year-old Swedish warmblood gelding that attempted his first CCI4* this spring at Badminton, but was one of the many who retired on cross country. They don’t have a perfect three-star record, but they were 21st together at Malmö CIC3* just recently in preparation for WEG.
Malin Peterson and Sofarsogood: In 2010, Malin Larsson competed Piccadilly Z in the WEG in Kentucky, placing 32nd. She posted a good dressage score and had clean jumping trips, but accrued more than 20 time penalties on cross country. Now, married with the last name Peterson, Malin returns to the WEG with the lovely mare Sofarsogood, who wins my favorite name. They completed the Olympic Games together two years ago with a 60 in dressage and a rail to add for 30th place overall. The mare doesn’t always post the best dressage scores, but hasn’t had a cross-country penalty in four years and usually leaves the rails up.
Ruy Fonseca and Tom Bombadill Too: One of the “Eight Elite” is Brazil’s Ruy and his steady partner Tom, who has become an honorary American with his competition stay-over this spring in the States. Despite having a bit of a rough spring with a tumble in the show jumping The Fork and Rolex, Tom and Ruy have been partnered at the CCI4* level for four years now, including completions at Luhmuülen, the 2010 WEG and the Olympic Games. Tom knows his job, and all Ruy has to do is get through that final phase and maybe invest in some sticky spray.
Gabriel Figueiredo Silva Cury and Grass Valley: This is Gabriel’s first time at the rodeo, but Grass Valley was partnered with Mark Todd in the 2010 WEG to much success, placing a very respectable 11th at the end of the weekend. Mark is now the Brazilian coach of this year’s WEG team, which likely helped Gabriel get the ride on this lovely horse. They’ve been partnered together for a year, coming up all the way from the one-star level to the three-star level, most recently placing fifth in the Bramham CIC3* Under 25 division.
Lara de Liedekerke and Ducati van dem Overdam: In 2010, Lara campaigned the lovely mare Nooney Blue at the Kentucky WEGs, ultimately placing 43rd, collecting a stop on cross country and jumping clear in show jumping. This go around, she is partnered with the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood Ducati, who made it around the incredibly tough Badminton this spring with only cross-country time and two rails, finishing in 10th place overall. They also completed Luhmühlen last year, finishing in 19th place with time and two rails once again.
Karin Donckers and Fletcha van’T Verahof: Karin is best known for her partnership with the beautiful mare Gazelle de la Brassiere, who was just outside the medals in fourth place at the 2010 WEG. Her new partner is significantly less experienced and will be attempting his first CCI4* in Normandy. However, they have a great record with nary a cross-country penalty and were most recently fifth in the CIC3* at Aachen.
Constantin van Rijckervorsel and Goodwins Reef: Constantin rode Our Vintage to 45th place in the 2010 WEG, with a 56 on the flat but collecting one stop on the cross-country course. This year he returns with Goodwins Reef, a 12-year-old bay Irish gelding. They made it around Luhmühlen clean this spring for their first CCI4* completion, with a 60 in the dressage and three rails on Sunday.
Pascal Leroy and Minos de Petra: The last member of the “Elite Eight,” Pascal is returning for his second WEG with his best horse, Minos de Petra. In 2010, they finished in 20th place with a 55 on the flat, double clear cross country and only three time penalties in show jumping. They were 14th at Pau CCI4* last fall and finished in fifth place this spring at Badminton with a clear round and only two rails. They are a very experienced pair with a great jumping record and are poised to do their home country proud here in Normandy.
Tim Lips and Keyflow N.O.P.: Tim competed at the Kentucky WEG with Concrex Oncarlos, but sadly was eliminated on the cross-country course. This year he is coming back for Holland, competing the 17-year-old grey Thoroughbred gelding Keyflow. Amazingly, this horse moved up the CCI4* level last year at the age of 16, completing Luhmühlen in 15th place, and romped around Badminton this spring to finish in seventh place.
Takayuki Yumira and Latina 43: Takayuki completed the 2010 WEG in 51st place, with a 61 on the flat and 82 time penalties over the cross-country course, as well as five rails on Sunday. He returns this year with Latina, a 12-year-old Hanoverian mare. They competed at the Olympic Games together, but were eliminated on cross country after too many stops. They have not completed a CCI4* together and will be attempting their first in Normandy.
Peter Tergov Flarup and Calista E: Peter rode Silver Ray at Kentucky in 2010, finishing in 44th place with a nice 52 on the flat, but collecting a stop on the cross-country course. Calista is his partner this year, a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood mare. They’ve come all the way up the levels together, completing Luhmühlen CCI4* in 2012 in 13th place. They attempted Badminton this spring, but after a lovely dressage score of 41.8, they were amongst the many eliminated on cross country. They bounced back for a 15th place at Malmö CIC3* this summer.
Marco Biasia and Neptune de Sartene: Marco went to his first WEG in 2010 with Gandalf the Grey, where they scored a 60 on the flat but then retired on the cross-country course. Neptune is a 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding that will be attempting his first CCI4* after completing Saumur CCI3* this spring with a 47 on the flat, 23 time penalties on cross country and two rails in show jumping.
Stay tuned for our full preview on all the competitors at this year’s World Equestrian Games!