The U.S. will be trying to rebound at the WEG from a desultory finish at the 2008 Olympics with an eventing team that likely will be a mix of veterans and first-time WEG participants in the case of both riders and horses. The opposition in the medal race is formidable, with the Germans, who accounted for the Olympic gold medal, and European Championship British leading the way. The Australians and New Zealanders cannot be counted out, but keep an eye on the Italians and Belgians, the silver and bronze team medalists at the European championships.
There are plenty of individual medal contenders, too, including European Championships gold medalist Tina Cook, William Fox-Pitt and hot new star Oliver Townend, all from Britain. Of course, you can’t ignore the Germans in this sport these days, particularly Michael Jung, who claimed individual bronze at the Europeans.
Among the key U.S. team candidates are:
Vast experience winning two Olympic team gold medals for his native Australia has made Phillip, now an American citizen, an invaluable pillar of the team. He has quite a string of horses, but Truluck, fourth at the Burghley 4-star, and Woodburn appear to be his prime prospects for the WEG. He’s likely the USA’s best chance for an individual medal in this discipline. BIO
Another Australian-turned-American, Boyd displays both energy and style. He has several horses at his disposal, including Fair Hill 3-star winner Neville Bardos and Remington, who also placed well at Fair Hill. Phillip has done a good job mentoring Boyd. BIO
Karen’s mount, Mandiba, was a little too green to be at his best during the 2008 Olympics, but he’s maturing and can put in a good dressage test, which could make her a big asset to the team. Karen’s decades of experience, with two Olympic team medals to her credit, is an asset in the pressure-filled scenario of a WEG at home. Karen is riding in the WEG as an individual, but if she is needed to replace someone on the team, her experience at the biggest events in the world will be invaluable. BIO
The individual bronze medalist at the 2006 World Equestrian Games with her old standby Poggio, Amy has moved on with Leyland now that Poggy is retired. She has carefully advanced up the ranks with Leyland, who was 13th at Rolex and 14th at Burghley in 2009 and should be ready for his first international championship with the guidance of this rider, who really knows the ropes. BIO
Son of legendary two-time world champion Bruce Davidson, Buck has a pair of good horses in Ballynoecastle RM, 11th at Burghley, and MyBoy Bobby, third at Rolex Kentucky, who suit his aggressive style cross-country. Although he’s out on his own, Buck has been strongly influenced by years spent training with his legendary father. This would be the Pan American Games veteran’s debut at the highest championship level, but he should hit the ground running. BIO
After covering all five previous World Equestrian Games in Europe, award-winning photojournalist Nancy Jaffer is looking forward to reporting and photographing the first WEG in the U.S. Her experience also includes eight Olympic Games, 21 World Cup finals and more major three-day events, grands prix, driving competitions and dressage shows than she has time to tally. Her books include ?Life in the Galloping Lane? with eventers Karen and David O?Connor and ?Riding Through,? with dressage star Debbie McDonald. An equestrian all her life, she still rides her horses when she’s not on assignment.