World's Top Riders Ready to Hit the Heights as Jumping Prepares for Take-Off in Tryon
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
All five of the world's top-ranked riders head a star-studded field when jumping begins at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 on Wednesday. Harrie Smolders leads a strong Dutch challenge, while the United States' hopes of a first WEG title will be driven by McLain Ward, and powerhouse Germany have the brilliant Marcus Ehning in their ranks.
Sweden, meanwhile, can call upon Henrik von Eckermann and Rio 2016 Olympic Individual Silver medalist Peder Fredricson, with 2008 Olympic champion Eric Lamaze chasing world title success as part of the Canadian team, and 2012 Olympic Individual Gold medal winner Steve Guerdat among Switzerland's entries.
In total, more than 120 riders from over 40 countries will contest the medals, which will be awarded in team and individual competitions and starts with Wednesday's Speed Class, when each rider performs one round against the clock.
Current Olympic gold medalists France, 2017 FEI Nations Cup™ winners in the Dutch, 2010 WEG victors in Germany and reigning European Champions in Team Ireland are among those with major designs on Team Gold.
Smolders, Jur Vrieling and Marc Houtzager will drive the Dutch challenge under Chef d'Equipe Rob Ehrens, while Ireland include two riders, Cian O'Connor and Shane Sweetnam, who helped deliver Gold in Gothenburg just over a year ago. The United States' contingent sees Ward backed up by quality talent such as Laura Kraut and youngster Adrienne Sternlicht.
"We have huge confidence in the team, and our goals are several," U.S. Chef d'Equipe and technical adviser Robert Ridland said.
"Our first aim is to be in the top six and qualify for the (2020) Olympics, which is not going to be easy - it never is - and the podium is the ultimate goal. We have spent the summer preparing and testing, and we feel that we are ready. It is not a one-day competition - there is a lot of jumping - but we feel prepared and ready."
In addition to household names of the sport, Tryon's U.S. Trust Arena will welcome a number of new countries to the FEI World Equestrian Games™ family.
Lebanon, Bolivia, Macedonia and Romania all make their WEG debut in any sport, with Thailand, Bahrain, Ecuador and Luxembourg fielding jumping riders for the first time.
The competition reaches a thrilling conclusion on Sunday - also closing the curtain on Tryon 2018 - with closing rounds of the individual event, when spectators can expect to witness sport of the highest quality as medals are decided.
It is likely to be a who's who of the Jumping discipline that pen another chapter in WEG history, providing a thrilling climax to 11 days of spectacular action.
For more information on the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 and to view start lists and results, please visit www.Tryon2018.com.