10.22.10

Letter from John Nicholson; reflections on the Games!

Posted in 2010 Games, Kentucky Horse Park, World Equestrian Games at 10:17 pm by Press Release

Dear Kentucky Horse Park Family,

As all of us begin to emerge from our splendid and wonderful exhaustion,
and as the dust begins to settle . . . literally . . . I appreciate you
giving me the opportunity to share some reflections upon what I think we
would all agree was a most remarkable sixteen days.

Despite years of challenges, difficulties, tensions, angst of every
sort, and long endured struggles, all of which were largely unseen by
the world, history will record that the Alltech FEI World Equestrian
Games of 2010, conceived by, and held at, the Kentucky Horse Park, was a
triumphant success!

Throughout the many years of thinking about these Games, I simply did
not dare to dream that this event would go so well and result in the
nearly universal euphoria that we now seem to share. As a result, I am
filled with, not only great humility, but with profound gratitude, to be
associated with such a rare and remarkable group of people that made
these Games so extraordinarily successful.

In addition to the world’s best equestrian athletes, both human and
equine, there are many winners in these World Games. These winners
include, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Kentucky Horse Park,
Kentucky’s horse industry and, most assuredly, the city of Lexington.

Not surprisingly, I would like to begin with the Kentucky Horse Park.
One of the most satisfying occurrences during this entire effort was
that so many people, from so many different places in the world, were
able to witness first hand the remarkable competence, intelligence,
cleverness, and tireless dedication of the staff of the Kentucky Horse
Park. The praise for this group of people continues to be heard from all
corners. This exceptional collection of people include not only the
staff of the Horse Park, but also the staff of our Foundation and our
wonderful army of volunteers. I am not surprised, but am glad they are
being recognized for their excellence. I can tell all of you that I
consider it THE great privilege of my professional life to be associated
with every single one of my Horse Park colleagues. All of us owe them
our deepest gratitude.

In thinking of our Horse Park, it is important that we remember that the
Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games did not CAUSE the success of the
Kentucky Horse Park. The World Games are, instead, a REFLECTION of the
success of the Kentucky Horse Park. Our ascendancy has been in effect
for some years now. As a result of the urgency created by the Games, we
now have the tools to allow our Horse Park to truly fulfill its destiny.

As has been said on many occasions, the new facilities and all the
upgrades to the park were needed whether or not we ever heard of the
World Equestrian Games. And, as we predicted, these new facilities have
been extensively booked by new events and many of our long standing
events are growing dramatically. It is with this in mind, that we can
state confidently that there will be world class equine competition at
our Horse Park for decades and generations to come.

As we look forward to what promises to be an exhilarating future, it is
important that we not forget the special people who got us to where we
are today. It was gratifying that for sixteen days, tens of thousands of
people traversed upon Nina Bonnie Boulevard. One can mark the moment in
history when the Kentucky Horse Park began its rise to preeminence to
the day Governor Collins appointed Nina Bonnie to head  Commission and
to start the Foundation. I will always be grateful to her and the
Commission for hiring my mentor, Lee Cholak, whose leadership set the
stage for so much of what we have achieved. I will also always be
grateful to Lee and Nina for hiring me and giving me the opportunity of
a lifetime.

It was also during these important years that people like Alston Kerr
and Cabby Boone began to take leadership roles in the park’s
development. The great leadership that Alston and Cabby give to the park
today can be traced to the leadership of not only Nina Bonnie, but to
the many people who gave so much of themselves to the park before anyone
could be assured of its ultimate success.

In key points of its history, the Kentucky Horse Park has been blessed
to be supported and protected by special friends. There is no greater
example of this than our Governor and First Lady.

All of us know the long devotion that Steve and Jane Beshear have given
to the Kentucky Horse Park. There is something nearly Providential that
when the park entered the most critical time in its history – placing
itself upon the world stage – the Governor’s Mansion was occupied by two
of its most faithful supporters. Much of the world will never know the
critical role both of them played as the Games faced every sort of peril
and challenge. The fact that the Games prevailed in the manner that they
did is indicative and reflective of their leadership.

It is also characteristically thoughtful of Steve and Jane that they
made sure that Governor Ernie Fletcher and Glenna were deservedly
recognized for the essential role they played in securing these Games
for Kentucky. Lessor people would have not been so magnanimous and
somehow that generous gesture seemed, not only to reflect their
wonderful character, but also to embody the entire spirit of the Games.

Clearly it is not possible to discuss the success of the 2010 Alltech
FEI World Equestrian Games without expressing our enduring gratitude to
Pearse and Dierdre Lyons. Alltech has provided an event sponsorship that
is truly unprecedented and assured the success of the Games. As a native
Kentuckian, I find it as a real source of pride that the first named
sponsor of a World Equestrian Games was not one of the usual band of
international companies, but is instead, a Kentucky based company, that
is international in scope, based in our agricultural heritage, but on
the cutting edge of biotechnology. I am very proud that Dr. Lyons (both
Pearse and Mark) represent twenty-first century Kentucky to the world.

As we know, over the years the formula for success of the Kentucky Horse
Park has involved public/private partnership. We have definitely taken
that concept to an entirely new level with the naming rights agreements
that have resulted in the Alltech Arena and the Rolex Stadium. It is
fitting that these mutually beneficial business agreements involve these
particular partners. The new arena carries the name of the company that
made possible the park’s most historic event. The new stadium carries
the name of company that has a thirty year relationship with the park
and has been responsible for the park’s international reputation which
allowed us to be taken seriously as we undertook to bid on the Games.

The Games provided the occasion to celebrate and strengthen some of the
park’s most important relationships. The park staff became true partners
with the World Games Foundation staff which was charged with the actual
execution of the Games. We also solidified our close relationship with
the United States Equestrian Federation. The park renewed its many close
associations with countless breed and discipline organizations that were
present during the World Games and who have had and will have many of
their events at the park.

The Kentucky Horse Park has no prouder association than its membership
among the agencies of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, so ably
lead by Secretary Marcheta Sparrow. The Alltech FEI World Equestrian
Games provided the forum for the Kentucky Experience, one of the most
significant tourism endeavors in the history of the Commonwealth. All
Kentuckians were proud of how this pavilion presented Kentucky to world
and I was very proud that such a magnificent presentation was upon the
grounds of the Horse Park.

Kentucky was indeed a huge winner as a result of the Games. The
worldwide positive exposure was unprecedented and we have defined
ourselves to much of the world as a beautiful place inhabited by warm,
friendly people in an environment that is worthy of relocation and
business investment.

The same can be said of Lexington. Downtown Lexington has experienced
nothing less than a renaissance as a result of Spotlight Lexington,
which would not have happened were it not for the Games. The city has
experienced a surge in pride, energy and confidence.  The
Herald-Leader’s Tom Eblen noted that he lived in both Knoxville during
the time of the World’s Fair and in Atlanta during the Olympics. He
stated forthrightly that Lexington did better with these Games than
either Knoxville or Atlanta. The level of discussion about how to keep
alive the spirit of the Games within the community is simply inspiring.

The Kentucky horse industry has been change for the better as well. The
growth of the sport horse sector of the industry has given a new and
deeper meaning to “Horse Capitol of the World.” This growth is directly
related to the success of the Kentucky Horse Park and has been occurring
for several years now. The World Games is reflective of the remarkable
growth of the Kentucky Horse Park and, consequently, the growth of the
sport horse sector of the industry.

There is no longer any question but that our Kentucky Horse Park has
made the most significant contribution in memory to the advancement of
equestrian sport on this continent. There can be no question but that
our Horse Park has made an historic contribution to the international
profile of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. No one can dispute but that the
park has been an essential element in the renaissance that is occurring
within Lexington and the Bluegrass. It is now clearly evident that the
Kentucky Horse Park is at the vanguard of the movement that will make
the twenty-first century the “Golden Age of the Horse” in America.
Without doubt, the best, most exciting, and exhilarating days for the
Kentucky Horse Park lie in the future and the great spirit of the 2010
World Games will continue at the park for decades and generations to
come.

Warmest regards,

John Nicholson

10.21.10

Ticket Sales to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Top 411,000 in Preliminary Reports

Posted in 2010 Games, World Equestrian Games at 7:47 pm by Press Release

LEXINGTON, KY—A total of 411,023 tickets were sold to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, based upon a preliminary reconciliation completed Thursday by the World Games 2010 Foundation.
This includes tickets sold in 63 countries and all 50 U.S. states.  Preliminary estimates show approximately 70 percent of sales came from outside Kentucky.
Top countries represented in sales totals include Canada, Switzerland, Australia, England, Mexico, Germany, South Africa, France, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.
Total event attendance of 507,022 was calculated in a manner consistent with other major sporting events around the world. Overall attendance includes volunteers, media, staff, teams and children under the age of 12 who did not require a ticket for entry to the grounds.
“The demographic of spectators attending the Games literally spanned the globe,” said World Games 2010 Foundation CEO Jamie Link. “In the face of an incredibly challenging global economic climate, we are very pleased to have sold more than 411,000 tickets, and to have exceeded an overall attendance of one half million. The Commonwealth of Kentucky and the City of Lexington can be proud of the success of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, and our achievements in showcasing equestrian sport and the Kentucky Horse Park to audiences around the world.”
Approximately 600,000 tickets were available for purchase to the Games.

10.19.10

Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games By the Numbers

Posted in 2010 Games, Business Impacts, World Equestrian Games at 6:06 pm by Press Release

LEXINGTON, KY—In addition to an incredible host city and state, the world’s best athletes, and the friendliest volunteer workforce in the world, it took a lot to stage the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Here’s a look at the 16 days of September 25 through October 10, by the numbers:

507,022 attendees
16,800 feet of bike barricade
8 miles of linear fencing
396 temporary structures
70 temporary power generators
59 miles of electrical cable
20,000 temporary seats
more than 11,000 signs placed around the park
500 flags
30,000 feet of extension cord
632 athletes
752 horses
58 countries
More than 100,000 servings of Kentucky Ale brand beers poured
1,734 Maker’s Mark bottles dipped in red wax at the station inside the Kentucky Experience
175,220 pounds of recyclable and compostable materials removed from the park
56 percent of waste diverted from landfills through green initiatives
500 temporary toilet facilities
7.6 million page views to the Games web site from September 25 through October 10
193 countries represented in web site visitors
62,707 school children visited the Games thanks to Alltech
79,802 Facebook fans…and still counting!
6,000 AWESOME volunteers
1.1 million meals served to spectators, staff, athletes and volunteers
112,368 cars parked
326,260 trips to and from the Games taken through the main entry transport mall
16,000 caps, 5,000 walking sticks, and 1,000 saddle pads sold in the merchandise store
11 months– youngest credentialed person; the son of press officers John and Heather Strassburger

10.11.10

Closing Ceremonies… My thoughts.

Posted in 2010 Games, Closing Ceremonies, My Thoughts, World Equestrian Games at 10:25 pm by Thomas

As a thank you for those of us who worked so hard as volunteers we were offered the opportunity to participate in the Closing Ceremonies of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2010.  I thought this was a nice gesture to those of us that had been so passionate about these Games that we put in many days volunteering.  As with most Closing Ceremonies, they were a lot less formal then the Opening Ceremonies, the only real formality was when HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein read the formal declaration that closed the Games.  I know from some of those that payed full price for the tickets, the Ceremony was a little light for what they paid, though the Lyle Lovett concert that was part of the Closing was very good, and the fact that the spectators were able to come down into the Stadium to be down right in front of the stage was a bit of a bonus.  I certainly enjoyed it though it was bitter sweet to think that it was over after 4 1/2 years of seemingly thinking about it everyday.  Now I am thinking about what it would be like if we do get it back in 8 years, which at this point I would have to say we are the odds on favorite to get it

HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein

10.10.10

Attendance to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Tops Half Million

Posted in 2010 Games, World Equestrian Games at 9:35 pm by Press Release

LEXINGTON, KY—Day 16—By the closing day of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, total attendance topped half a million.
Sunday’s attendance came in at 38,682, bringing the total for the event to 507,022.

“We are incredibly pleased with the number of spectators who have joined us at the Games over these 16 days,” said World Games 2010 Foundation CEO Jamie Link. “We are overwhelmed with the positive comments and remarks we have received about their experiences on the park, viewing competition, and with our volunteers.  By their measure, these Games have been a great success.”

Daily attendance totals avereaged from 25,000 to 35,000 throughout the event.    The biggest days on the park occurred on October 1, when 46,496 attendees packed the park on a day that concluded in a fantastic Dressage Freestyle competition under the lights of Rolex Stadium; as well as October 2, when Eventing Cross Country brought 50,818 attendees to the grounds.

Attendance was bolstered by several sold-out rounds of competition, including reining, vaulting, and dressage and para-dressage sessions.

Attendance figures include media, athletes, and volunteers who entered the grounds daily, in addition to tickets spectators and children under the age of 12 who did not require a ticket for entry on most days of competition.

Exell Makes Australian History In Driving World Championships At Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Combined Driving, Disciplines, Results, World Equestrian Games at 9:31 pm by Press Release

Lexington, KY—Boyd Exell accomplished something today that no other Australian has ever done at a previous Driving World Championships—he won the individual gold medal, at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

With one ball down in the obstacles phase, held in front of a packed Driving Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park, Exell (134.04) edged Ijsbrand Chardon of the Netherlands (135.24) and Tucker Johnson of the United States (150.06).

Johnson is the second four-in-hand driving medalist in the history of the U.S. team, and he led teammates Chester Weber (who was the first U.S. individual medalist, winning individual silver in 2008) and James Fairclough to the team silver medal (330.92). This is the second team silver medal this trio has won at the World Equestrian Games. (The first was in 2002.)

Chardon, a four-time individual world champion, led the Netherlands to the team gold medal (279.77), the third time they’ve won the team gold medal in the World Equestrian Games. Germany moved up to the bronze medal (322.20) when Tomas Eriksson of Sweden was eliminated for going off course and took his third-placed team with him.

Exell closed out these World Games as the only Australian gold medalist. “I know it sounds like a cliché to say this, but it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Exell, who drove these championships with a broken left hand, suffered in a riding accident the week before they began.

In 2008, Exell won the individual bronze medal at the Driving World Championships, behind Chardon and Weber. “To get five horses and all the people and your equipment just right for one weekend is a huge task, and we’ve been trying to do it for 10 years. You get to the point where you can do it regularly, like we have, and then you have to be lucky to win.”

Exell, 38, added, “I left Australia at 21 and said I wasn’t coming home until I won the World Championship.”

Johnson, 46, said again that this would be his final world championship, that he is retiring from international competition.

“I won’t change my decision. We’ve all three been doing this for a long time, and it’s time for me to move on,” Johnson said. “This felt good. Not everyone gets a chance to end something on such a high note. It was a grand end to a lot of experiences.”

All three team members said that the World Equestrian Games being in Lexington had spurred on the team’s performance.

“Our program and our team—along with the program at the U.S. Equestrian Federation—all came together for this medal here,” said Fairclough.

“It’s been a whole group effort, and you feel like the whole nation is behind you here,” said Johnson.

Weber believes that the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games will have a lasting effect on driving in the United States. “There’s a future of driving in the U.S. because of these games,” he said. “Having the WEG here really got us going, and now, with Tucker leaving, Jimmy and I are looking forward to being the foundation of our team in the future.”

USA Claims Gold In Vaulting World Championships At Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Results, Vaulting, World Equestrian Games at 9:28 pm by Press Release

Lexington, KY—If you asked the Team USA vaulters how they were feeling this afternoon, they’d answer with a chorus of screams. They feel that good, because they pulled out a come-from-behind win to earn the team gold medal at the Vaulting World Championships, held as part of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

“We really connected today—we looked each other in the eye,” said team member and coach Devon Maitozo. “Our horse was just beautiful, and we had the love of the audience with us, which helped. We just were in our bodies today.”

Today was a contrast from the previous team freestyle competition on Friday, when two team members fell from their horse, because, said Maitozo, the team horse, Palatine, was spooky in the arena. The U.S. team had led after the compulsory exercises, but then dropped to third place after the fall, behind Germany and Austria.

To prepare for Sunday’s round, Maitozo said, “We made a different plan for the horse and for ourselves. We took a step back from the intensity of the energy before. We really calmed ourselves down, collected ourselves, and the horse had a longer warm-up but a much more calm warm-up.”

The plan worked, and the judges rewarded the U.S. team with the highest freestyle score of the day (8.779), which brought their composite score up to 8.029

The team’s lyrical performance was set to music from Sergei Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet,” a ballet that was “spiced up” by Maitozo, said team member Rosalind Ross. She added, “That’s how we strive to set ourselves apart from the rest of the competition, by making vaulting more like a dance performance and a theater performance, not merely gymnastics on horses.”

“We want it to be a dance,” said Maitozo. “We want it to be a drama of emotion, of movement, elegance – with the horse, not against the horse. We’re dancing with the horse, not on the horse.”

Other U.S. team members were Blake Dahlgren, Annalise Van Vranken, Mary Garrett, Mari Inouye and Emily Hogye. The team longeur and horse trainer is Carolyn Bland.

The experienced team previously won the 2010 United States Equestrian Federation/American Vaulting Association national title. Members of this team were also on the 2006 World Equestrian Games silver-medal team and the 2008 bronze-medal team in the World Vaulting Championships. Maitozo was the individual gold medalist at the 1998 World Equestrian Games.

“I would say this is probably one of the most experienced teams of all time,” Maitozo said. “Cumulatively, the years that this team has been vaulting is well over 120 years. We have a long relationship.”

Germany, which had been leading going into Sunday’s freestyle, suffered a fall in the performance but still had a strong enough composite score (8.010) to earn the silver medal.

Team member Michaela Hohlmeier said, “It’s just sad, [but] it’s sports, so it can happen.”

Germany vaulted aboard Adlon, a 15-year-old Brandenburger, and the longeur was Alexander Hartl.

Austria turned in a vigorous freestyle performance, set to the music of Cirque du Soleil, to earn the team bronze medal ( 7.990).

Team member Daniela Penz said “it was teamwork” that resulted in the team’s best freestyle performance this year. “Everyone wants a medal – and gets a medal!” she said

The Austrians were vaulting on Elliot 8 and, and the longeur was Klaus Haidacher.

Great Britain and Germany Share the Gold Medals in Para Dressage Freestyle At 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Para-Dressage, Results, World Equestrian Games at 9:20 pm by Press Release

Lexington, KY — Riders from Great Britain and Germany dominated the freestyle in all five grades of the Para Dressage World Championships at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.  Today’s competition decided the grade IV champion, and it was Great Britain’s Sophie Wells on Pinocchio (78.50%).

Gold-medal winners over the last few days include Germany’s Hannelore Brenner on Women Of The World (79.20%) in grade III, Germany’s Dr. Angelika Trabert on Ariva-Avanti (75.90%) in grade II, Great Britain’s Lee Pearson on Gentleman (82.50%) in grade Ib, and Great Britain’s Emma Sheardown on Purdy’s Dream (78.55%) in grade Ia.

“He was a little bit more energetic than normal, so I decided not to go in with a whip, and that was very abnormal, so I was taking a risk from the beginning, really,” said Wells.  “When I picked up the walk he came against me and he stopped and then I thought ‘Oh my gosh I need to find somewhere else in my plan where I can put in another simple change’.  So all the time when I was going through my next movements I was trying to think where I could put it in.”
Pearson created his top-scoring freestyle just for this competition.

“For me the trot work is a lot easier than the walk work, so I try to incorporate some lateral work and some extensions,” he said.  “I try to have my contingency plan if my horse is not going quite how I’d like him to go in the arena.  Then I send a video of that to my music man, and I tell him what country I am going to and he makes me some music that’s pertinent for that country.  So for these Games it was really quick, slap-your-thigh, cowboy-type music.”
Sheardown said her warm-up prepared her and her horse well for their performance.

“I am pleased with my horse,” she said.  “He had a good walk, and I managed to keep him relaxed.  The rest felt really nice.”

Great Britain completed a trifecta in Grade Ia, sweeping all the medals.  Sophie Christiansen on Rivaldo Of Berkeley (77.85%) earned the silver medal, and Anne Dunham on Teddy (74.80%) took the bronze.

“It’s able-bodied trainers who train us as if we’re able-bodied people,” said Dunham.  “They put the responsibility on us to ride the horse and get the best out of it.  Trainers are as important as anything else.  We’re lucky in Britain to have some marvelous trainers.”

In grade Ib the silver medalist was Denmark’s Stinna Tange Kaastrup on Labbenhus Snoevs (77.00%), while the bronze went to Finland’s Katja Karjalainen on Rosie (72.85%).

Kaastrup rode one of the few non-warmbloods in the Para Dressage Championships. Labbenhus Snoevs is a New Forest Pony.

“Since I started, it probably took around a year to make him the way he is today,” she said.  “It’s not easy.  I have a problem with the half-passes.  It’s not easy to figure that out without any legs, but I did, and he’s just the best.”

The grade II silver medalist was The Netherlands’ Gert Bolmer and Triumph (75.85%), and bronze went to Great Britain’s Jo Pitt and Estralita (74.95%).
“My test was really great,” said Bolmer.  “The competition was really good in grade II.  I feel like we had different medal winners in the freestyle than in the individual, so the competition was really good and really hard.  It was a long competition but a great competition.”

The grade III competition concluded on Friday and saw Denmark’s Annika Lykke Dalskov on Preussen Wind (75.40) earn silver and Australia’s Sharon Jarvis and Applewood Odorado (74.70%) take the bronze.

Today’s grade IV freestyle concluded the Para Dressage World Championships and saw Belgium’s Michele George on FBW Rainman (78.05%) earn the silver medal, while bronze went to Frank Hosmar and Tiesto (77.25%).

This afternoon’s press conference welcomed the 15 medalists—the first para dressage WEG medalists.  When asked to choose one word to describe their discipline, these athletes in para dressage’s inaugural WEG championships chose words like “inspirational,” “partnership,” “amazing,” “opportunity,” “outstanding,” “harmony,” and “recognition.”

Pearson commented on how the United States and other countries have come a long way in this discipline and offered some insight in to how to keep that momentum going.

“I’ll give you an example,” he said.  “I went down to the reining demonstration and asked if I could have a go at it, and they looked at me in my wheelchair and said, ‘No, but we’d love to get some para-equestrians to do some reining.  How do we go about doing that?’ And I said, ‘You have to let them on the horse first.  That’s a good start.’

“That’s my not-so-sensible answer, and my sensible answer is in England we have an amazing riding for the disabled organization, which is obviously therapy.  Not all of the riders come from that, but quite a huge percentage come from riding for the disabled first.  We also have a great support structure called World Class Performance, which is lottery funding to allow elite disabled and able-bodied athletes in England to apply to go on to a squad and receive funding.  Then we have a great competition structure, because you’ve got to be able to compete and come here and feel confident.  It’s just about giving people the opportunity.”

Eccles And Looser Score Individual Medals in World Vaulting Championships At Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Results, Vaulting, World Equestrian Games at 3:43 am by Press Release

Lexington, KY—Joanne Eccles gave Great Britain its first-ever World Equestrian Games medal in vaulting, as she won gold in the female individual division of the Vaulting World Championships, held as part of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Patric Looser of Switzerland bested his friend and teacher, Kai Vorberg of Germany, to win the gold medal in the male individual division.

“I think I’m a little bit stunned,” said Eccles, the 2009 European champion. “I was really pleased with my performance today, but the other girls are so strong, and they all went so well. I think it’s going to take a while for it to sink in.”

Eccles’ composite score over four days of competition was 8.413.

Eccles, 21, has her father, John, as her longeur, and her sister, Hannah, as a coach. Their mother, Jane, also supports the family effort. Eccles vaulted on W.H. Bentley, a 16-year-old French warmblood-Dale pony cross, whom the Eccles family has owned for the past 11 years.

“He was absolutely perfect,” Eccles said of her horse. “I don’t have to think about him when he’s out there. He’s got such a partnership with my dad that they’re a team in themselves, and I just do my thing on top.”

Both the silver and bronze medals will be going home to Germany in the female division.

Antje Hill, vaulting on Airbus, took silver with a composite score of 8.322, while Simone Wiegele, with Arkansas, earned bronze with an 8.281. When the German contingent realized it would hold two spots on the medal podium, a cacophony of cheers and tears erupted. Hill said she and Wiegele had been rooting for one another all along.

“We were very supportive of each other, and that made us stronger as a team,” she said.

The United States’ Mary McCormick turned in the women’s highest score of the day, with an 8.680 in this freestyle competition. Her composite score (8.270) left her in fourth place.

“I came to this competition saying that all I wanted to do was my best, and I feel like I did that, and I’m not disappointed,” McCormick said. She said she now plans to go home and unwind by trail riding with her vaulting partner, Sir Anthony Van Dyck.

In the male division, it came down to the last vaulter, Looser, who in his last freestyle performance had the chance to take the lead away from Vorberg, his friend and teacher and a two-time vaulting world champion (2004 and 2006) and two-time European champion (2005 and 2007).

For both men, it was a difficult situation, and in the end, Looser said he decided to concentrate on making a clean performance and let the judges decide who was better.

Immediately after the men’s performances, Vorberg said, “He definitely deserves it. For him, it is a great achievement. He has done so much for the Swiss vaulting sport.”

Looser’s composite score after four days of competition was an 8.498, while Vorberg’s was 8.463, working aboard Sir Bernhard RS von der Wintermühle.

After a bit of reflection, Vorberg said that perhaps his freestyle music choice, “Wind of Change” by the Scorpions, had proven prophetic.

“The wind of change is coming,” Vorberg said. “I’m an old man now [at 28]. You can’t go on that long. It won’t stay like this forever, so I’m happy that I had this last peak here.”

Looser, 26, vaulted aboard a horse from Vorberg’s stable, Record RS von der Wintermühle, an 18-year-old Hessian stallion. An 18-time Swiss champion, Looser called his final freestyle performance at the World Equestrian Games “one of my best competitions, ever.”

The bronze medal went to Nicholas Andreani of France, who turned in the day’s high score of 8.905 in the freestyle. His composite score was 8.452.

Andreani’s performances have carried a military theme, and in his final freestyle, he portrayed a soldier coming home after the war. And, for him, WEG was about performing.

“In our sport, in our discipline, it’s too bad that it’s about being graded, because for me, it’s what I have in my heart and in my soul,” Andreani said. He vaulted on Idefix de Braize.

Another medal round will be held on Sunday, after the teams’ final freestyle.

Today’s total attendance was 44,954. The total attendance for the first15 days of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games is 468,340.

Exell Stays On Top With Fast Marathon In Driving World Championships At Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Combined Driving, Disciplines, Results, World Equestrian Games at 3:40 am by Press Release

Boyd Exell

Boyd Exell

Lexington, KY— Australia’s Boyd Exell drove the day’s third-fastest marathon to maintain the lead he took in the first phase of Driving World Championships at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.  Second-placed Ijsbrand Chardon has put the Dutch team in front (273.77), while third-placed Tucker Johnson is leading the U.S. team’s charge for second place (300.92). Sweden is third (311.24).

“Normally on most marathons you’ll have one little something somewhere, but today seemed almost perfect. Even going safe we were still fast, “ said Exell, 38. “I wanted to go fast enough to put pressure on Chardon, but not make mistakes. The horses were machines out there, they just really did it on their own.”

Exell, along with teammate Gavin Robson, has put Australia in the team medal hunt too. They’re in fourth, with 311.99 penalties, just behind Sweden. Australia has never won a team medal at the Driving World Championships.

Chardon, a former multiple-time world champion and one of the sport’s fastest marathon drivers, was only 5.89 points behind Exell after dressage. Today he drove the fastest total time in the eight obstacles of the 25 drivers, scoring 4.17 penalties fewer than Exell. The gap between them is now only 2.72 points.

“Today my goal was to go fast, and tonight I will sleep very well and prepare to have no faults and put the pressure on Boyd tomorrow,” said Chardon, 49.

Johnson’s total puts him 14.82 points behind Chardon, but the next three drivers are only slightly more than 4 points behind him. He said he’d like very much to win an individual medal in his final World Championship before he retires from international competition. He won the team silver medal in 1992 and the team gold medal in pairs driving in 1991.

“I’m gong to go clean tomorrow. That’s my goal,” he insisted.

Johnson, 46, concluded his marathon by saluting the cheering spectators with a raised fist after exiting the last obstacle. “It was a bittersweet moment for me, and I wanted to thank the crowd. I felt a little sadness that it was over and happiness for my performance. Given all the circumstances, I think my last marathon may be my best,” he said.

He added that teammates Chester Weber and Jimmy Fairclough had suffered bad luck before he started, both of them getting penalties for putting grooms down in an obstacle. Those penalties, combined with the speed of Chardon and teammate Theo Timmerman today, broke the tie between the Netherlands and the United States for first place after dressage.

Driving concludes tomorrow (Sunday) with the obstacles phase in the driving arena, beginning at 10:00 a.m.

l drove the day’s third-fastest marathon to maintain the lead he took in the first phase of Driving World Championships at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.  Second-placed Ijsbrand Chardon has put the Dutch team in front (273.77), while third-placed Tucker Johnson is leading the U.S. team’s charge for second place (300.92). Sweden is third (311.24).

“Normally on most marathons you’ll have one little something somewhere, but today seemed almost perfect. Even going safe we were still fast, “ said Exell, 38. “I wanted to go fast enough to put pressure on Chardon, but not make mistakes. The horses were machines out there, they just really did it on their own.”

Exell, along with teammate Gavin Robson, has put Australia in the team medal hunt too. They’re in fourth, with 311.99 penalties, just behind Sweden. Australia has never won a team medal at the Driving World Championships.

Chardon, a former multiple-time world champion and one of the sport’s fastest marathon drivers, was only 5.89 points behind Exell after dressage. Today he drove the fastest total time in the eight obstacles of the 25 drivers, scoring 4.17 penalties fewer than Exell. The gap between them is now only 2.72 points.

“Today my goal was to go fast, and tonight I will sleep very well and prepare to have no faults and put the pressure on Boyd tomorrow,” said Chardon, 49.

Johnson’s total puts him 14.82 points behind Chardon, but the next three drivers are only slightly more than 4 points behind him. He said he’d like very much to win an individual medal in his final World Championship before he retires from international competition. He won the team silver medal in 1992 and the team gold medal in pairs driving in 1991.

“I’m gong to go clean tomorrow. That’s my goal,” he insisted.

Johnson, 46, concluded his marathon by saluting the cheering spectators with a raised fist after exiting the last obstacle. “It was a bittersweet moment for me, and I wanted to thank the crowd. I felt a little sadness that it was over and happiness for my performance. Given all the circumstances, I think my last marathon may be my best,” he said.

He added that teammates Chester Weber and Jimmy Fairclough had suffered bad luck before he started, both of them getting penalties for putting grooms down in an obstacle. Those penalties, combined with the speed of Chardon and teammate Theo Timmerman today, broke the tie between the Netherlands and the United States for first place after dressage.

Driving concludes tomorrow (Sunday) with the obstacles phase in the driving arena, beginning at 10:00 a.m.

10.09.10

Germany Tops Team Standings In Vaulting World Championships at Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Results, Vaulting, World Equestrian Games at 3:47 am by Press Release

Lexington, KY—As vaulters prepare for medal rounds this weekend, Germany took the lead in the team competition on at the Vaulting World Championships, part of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

“The performance went very well,” said Alexander Hartl, longeur and trainer for Germany. “We can do a little bit more to [be] perfect, but this was very good. We will have to do it a little better [in the final round], and we will do it very perfect. That is our plan for the finals.”

The German team vaulted aboard Adlon, a 15-year-old Brandenburger. The Germans’ composite score is a 7.698, and they’re followed closely by Austria (7.644) and the USA (7.655). The final team competition will be a freestyle program on Sunday.

The United States, which had been leading going into today’s performance, had some bad luck when two team members fell from their horse.

“Physically we’re fine, mentally we’ll recover, and Sunday we have still a great opportunity to take back our lead,” said team member and coach Devon Maitozo.

Teams from Switzerland (7.467) and France (7.299) round out the top five.

In individual competition, vaulters performed a technical test today, which requires them to go through five exercises from different categories of motor skills. The athletes put those exercises and others of their choosing to music in a one-minute program. On Saturday, they will perform their final freestyle, and the cumulative marks will determine the medalists.

Coming out of yesterday’s individual freestyle competition, 18-time Swiss champion Patric Looser of Switzerland maintained his lead with a composite score of 8.369. He admitted to being surprised at the outcome.

“I am very happy with my technical test, because it’s not my special thing. I know that I can win a compulsory, I can win a freestyle and be in front, but a technical, it’s my thing where I have to work on it,” he said. He attributed the success in part to his horse, Record RS von der Wintermühle, an 18-year-old Hessian stallion.

“I know I have one of the best horses here, and that gives me security. It’s nice to vault on him,” Looser said.

Germany’s Kai Vorberg put in the men’s highest technical score of the day, and that moved him into second place with a composite score of 8.353. The music that accompanied his performance was his own rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” The remaining vaulters in the top five are Nicolas Andreani of France (8.301), Stefan Csandl of Austria (8.123) and Gero Meyer of Germany (8.091).

In the female individual division, the high-scoring technical test of the day moved Joanne Eccles of Great Britain, the 2009 European Champion, into the lead with a composite score of 8.327. But she said nothing is certain with one performance yet to go.

“I think the competition has been full of ups and downs. The first day, I did really well. The second day, I wasn’t happy with my performance so much. Today, I am happy again,” Eccles said. “There’s some fantastic competition here; it could go any way. There are about seven girls who are at the top, and anyone could take the lead. So if I don’t go out there and enjoy it, there’s no point in coming to the competition, so my aim is more to have a really good final round and be pleased with myself, rather than see what place I come.”

Eccles’ father, John Eccles, is her longeur and trainer, and the family owns their vaulting horse, W.H. Bentley, a 16-year-old French warmblood-Dale pony cross.

Standing currently in second place is Antje Hill of Germany with a composite score of 8.207. Simone Wiegele of Germany (8.192), Mary McCormick of the United States (8.133) and Megan Benjamin of the United States (8.065) round out the top five.

Judges are Suzanne Detol (USA), Jochen Schilffarth (GER), Erich Breiter (AUT), Martine Fournaise (FRA), Monika Eriksson (SWE), and Roland Boehlen (SUI).

10.08.10

The Leaders Are All Tied Up In Driving World Championships at 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Combined Driving, Disciplines, Results, World Equestrian Games at 7:49 pm by Press Release

Lexington, KY — Ties almost never happen in four-in-hand driving, but they’re the rule of the day at the Driving World Championships at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. The United States and the Netherlands are tied for first in the race for the team medals, at 76.16 penalties, with their top two drivers tied for second and fourth.

The only clear leader is Boyd Exell of Australia, who drove his team to a five-point lead in dressage, scoring 30.08 penalties, the best dressage score ever recorded in a World Championship. Chester Weber of the USA and Ijsbrand Chardon of the Netherlands are tied for second (35.97), and Tucker Johnson of the USA and Theo Timmerman of the Netherlands are tied for fourth (40.19).

“I think I’ve seen maybe two ties in 20 years, so to have the teams and the four of us tied is amazing,” said Johnson.

The third members of their teams—Jimmy Fairclough for the USA and Koos de Ronde for the Netherlands—are in ninth and 10th places, separated by only .25 penalties.

Exell drove his team of mixed warmbloods to the record score, even though he injured his hand last week. “I was jumping cross-country for fun, and I fell and broke a bone in my left hand. I was struggling a bit with it yesterday, but the Aussie team got me a good kit and it was all right today. I lost my grip twice, but the leaders covered it up for me,” he said.

Despite his hand, Exell enjoyed his test. “I had to stop myself from smiling in there,” he said. “They were doing it all on their own, the circles, the corners—everything. My grooms helped by telling me to warm up for 20 minutes less.”

Johnson’s team included a horse Exell loaned him, the left leader, named Black Shadow. “I call him Boyd when I’m mad at him,” said Johnson with a smile. Johnson, 46, said today that these World Championships would be his final competition.

Exell, 38, said he had no second thoughts about loaning the horse to Johnson. “Tucker has been a great advocate of the sport for 30 years, and he’s never asked for anything in return,” said Exell. “I saw him struggling a bit with horsepower at Aachen [Germany], and I made the offer. I said I’d split the prize money with him if he won.”

The two drivers agreed on their expectations for tomorrow’s marathon, in which the 25 drivers will journey around almost the entire Kentucky Horse Park. Richard Nicoll of the United State has designed the eight obstacles they’ll negotiate.

“It’s a more open course than we have been used to, but that still brings problems, because we can go faster and make more mistakes,” said Exell.

Said Johnson, “I think you’re going to seeing some really fast driving because it’s so open. It will be a test for me because I’ll be driving fast enough to make a lot of mistakes.”

Wiegele And Looser Set The Standard In Vaulting World Championships at Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Results, Vaulting, World Equestrian Games at 7:20 am by Press Release

Lexington, KY—Round 1 of the individual portion of the World Vaulting Championships concluded today, with the top 15 male and the top 15 female vaulters advancing to the second round of competition at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, with technical and freestyle programs yet to go.

Going into Round 2, Germany’s Simone Wiegele, a member of the gold-medal team in the 2006 World Games, leads the female division, and Switzerland’s Patrick Looser, an 18-time Swiss champion, leads the men’s division.

Vaulting combines gymnastic and dance elements, performed to music on a cantering horse. A longeur, who controls the horse, completes the three-way partnership, and harmony between all participants is imperative. In Thursday’s individual freestyle tests, which were limited to one minute, the vaulters chose their own music, which ranged from rock (“Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence) to classical Vivaldi.

Wiegele, 24, who entered the day in second place after Wednesday’s compulsory program, admitted to feeling some nerves as she began performing to an operatic score.

“At the beginning, it felt a little bit strange because of all the people and the great atmosphere and the big hall. It was a little bit scary,” she said. Her horse, 12-year-old Arkansas, gave her a good rhythmic canter, so she said her freestyle program “on him is really good.” Her cumulative score is 8.344.

Second in the cumulative female individual standings is Joanne Eccles of Great Britain (8.274). The remaining top-five vaulters are Antje Hill of Germany (8.121), Christa Kristofics-Binder of Austria (8.050) and Mary McCormick of the United States (8.050).

In the male division, some interesting themes took hold. Looser, 26, performed as an astronaut, complete with a NASA spacesuit, silver hair and silver gloves and shoes. His music was from the movie “Transformers.”

“It’s especially for here, for Kentucky,” he said. “I wanted something special to take all the people here to space and give a little bit of an American feeling back to the arena.”

Regarding his strong freestyle program, Looser said, “I [was] one of the first competitors in the field, and it’s very important that you make a clean performance, to make a bit of pressure on the others behind you. That was my goal today.”

He was vaulting aboard Record RS von der Wintermühle, an 18-year-old Hessian stallion, and his cumulative score from two days of competition is 8.524.

The other top-five male individual cumulative scores belong to Nicolas Andreani of France (8.405), Kai Vorberg of Germany (8.366), Gero Meyer of Germany (8.288) and Stefan Csandl of Austria (8.264).

The vaulting championships continue Friday with the technical program in Round 2 of individual competition and the team freestyle competition, which will complete the teams’ first round.

Judges are Suzanne Detol (USA), Jochen Schilffarth (GER), Erich Breiter (AUT), Martine Fournaise (FRA), Monika Eriksson (SWE), and Roland Boehlen (SUI).

Great Britain Is Golden In Para Dressage World Championships At Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Para-Dressage, Results, World Equestrian Games at 7:16 am by Press Release

Lexington, KY—Great Britain continued its historical domination of the Para Dressage World Championships by taking the team gold, and sweeping all three individual medals in the Grade Ia division, as well as the individual gold and silver in grade Ib. These medals follow yesterday’s gold-medal performance by Sophie Wells, bringing to seven the total British medal count in para dressage at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Leading the British charge was Sophie Christiansen, 22, who took individual gold in the grade Ia test with a score of 76.100 percent and provided a crucial score for her team. Christiansen was overcome when her score was announced.

“My trainer decided I should ride for longer today. I normally ride for 15 minutes, and today I rode for 30 minutes,” she said. “I’m so happy with him because he just took care of me. That score is the highest I’ve ever gotten in the individual test. The feeling afterward is so wonderful. I was so nervous this morning!”

Joining Christiansen on the all-Britain individual medal podium were Anne Dunham with silver (73.200%) and Emma Sheardown (71.900%) with bronze.

“I was pleased,” said Dunham, 61, after her ride. ”It went very well. This one was better than the other day. He was freer and more forward. I try not to let the pressure affect me. I simply try to do the best I can, just do my best and let people catch up afterwards.”

Sheardown, 25, was equally pleased with her performance. “I was really happy with it. I am even happy with the score,” she said. “This is my first championship, and it feels absolutely amazing, and I so like all the disciplines being here.”

Also mining British gold was grade Ib rider Lee Pearson, 36, who performed a nearly flawless ride on the handsome bay Gentleman to score 76.435 percent. British rider Ricky Balshaw, 23, joined him on the podium to accept the silver medal (72.870).

Pearson, a 12-year team veteran, found himself surprisingly anxious. “I was really nervous today. I had to tell myself to take a breath before I entered—for the first time. It was because of my expectations of myself and because I warmed up 10 minutes short. He felt ready, but my mind wasn’t.”

He added, “Every gold medal is special, but this one is different because it’s our first time at the WEG. So we will go down in history, even though we weren’t as comfortable as we like to be with the other teams breathing down our backs.”

Balshaw survived a spooky moment with the flashy chestnut Academy Award to ride a strong, clean test. “I don’t know quite what was with the spook.  He was coughing,” he said immediately after his ride. “I was quite pleased with the test.  The pirouettes were good. I may have backed off a little bit in the extensions because of what happened.”

Dunham, Pearson, Christiansen and grade II rider Jo Pitt, 31, contributed scores to the winning British team performance (395.456). Team silver went to Germany (390.277), and team bronze went to Denmark (418.389), which edged the Netherlands (417.480) late in the day.

Danish rider Stinna Tange Kaastrup’s score of 70.174 percent clinched team bronze for Denmark and also garnered her individual bronze in grade Ib.

“I felt awesome out there,” said Kaastrup, 16. “My horse was a little turned on. He was very proud of himself to be out there, and I was very proud of him.”

10.07.10

IJsbrand Chardon and Chester Weber Share Lead After First Day Of Driving World Championships At The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Combined Driving, Disciplines, Results, World Equestrian Games at 10:07 pm by Press Release

Lexington, Ky.,–The battle has begun for the Individual and Team medals in the Four-In-Hand Driving World Championships, held as part of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, and tied for the top spot are two of the sport’s biggest names.

IJsbrand Chardon of The Netherlands, was the second driver in the arena for the opening Dressage phase, and he turned in a spectacular performance to score a 35.97.

In the next to last position was Chester Weber, driving for the United States, and he turned in the identical score to stand tied with Chardon for first place.

Neither Chardon nor Weber is a stranger to this top level of competition.  Chardon, a legend in the sport of Driving, has been Dutch National Champion twenty-one times and has won medals in four World Equestrian Games, including Team and Individual Gold.  Weber has won eight consecutive U.S. National Championships and has a Team Silver Medal from the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

“The horses went well,” commented Chardon after his test. “The field was very good and I had a good feeling about the test. I had a little mistake at the walk, but that is the game.

“I have good horses.  As part of their training we ride them three times a week, this gives them their light feel and responsiveness which is so important.  We are very happy with our test and are looking forward to the marathon competition.  The course is very technical and long, with long gallops.  I am looking forward to a good fight on Saturday.”

“IJsbrand drove a nice, harmonious, risk-free test and certainly got rewarded for it,” commented Weber.   “I, together with the chef d’equipe, made a hard strategic decision to stay domestic this summer and not to compete at the major European venues, so I was anxious about the dressage.  I think that the extended trot from my team was great — clearly where it’s at.  Their movement was fantastic. They really woke up in the arena. I was a little bit unfortunate with the back, which cost me points, but the horses seem to be fit and in top form. I’m pleased with them.

“The arena is good.  It looks like they watered it quite a bit recently so it actually pulls a lot heavier than the dried up ground out here.  The marathon course looks like it’s going to be good sport regardless. There’s nothing for free here.  The challenge with the hills is that you are pushing them going up and supporting them coming down.  It will pay off for the teams that have horses with power left at the end. We’ve worked a lot on the marathon recently.  The team coaches here have been helping me a lot.  We’re going to go out and do our best and see what it all looks like on Sunday afternoon.”

Standing in third place is Theo Timmerman, also of The Netherlands.  His score of 40.19 belies the youth of his team, as the oldest horse is merely nine, and his two wheel horses have only been working together this year.

“I am happy about my horses today,” said Timmerman.  “We will wait and see what happens tomorrow with the other drivers.

The provisional Team scores after this first day of competition places The Netherlands solidly in first place with a score of 76.16, followed by the United States with 87.94 and Germany with 103.04.

The Driving World Championships continue Friday, October 8, with the second half of the Dressage phase, followed on Saturday by the exciting Marathon before concluding on Sunday with the Obstacles competition, after which both Team and Individual Medals will be awarded.

U.S. Team Leads The Way In Vaulting World Championships At 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Posted in 2010 Games, Disciplines, Results, Vaulting, World Equestrian Games at 3:40 am by Thomas

Lexington, KY — The Vaulting World Championships swung into action today at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, with the compulsory portion of both team and individual competition being contested at the Alltech Arena.

At day’s end, the U.S. team held the highest score (7.207), followed by Germany (6.996) and Austria (6.990). Switzerland (6.880) and France (6.594) rounded out the top five. Team freestyle continues on Friday, with the final freestyle round on Sunday.

Vaulting combines gymnastic and dance elements, performed to music on a cantering horse. A longeur, who controls the horse, completes the three-way partnership, and harmony between all participants is imperative. Vaulting has been an FEI-recognized discipline since 1983.

Although there is a lot of competition left before medals are awarded, the Americans are happy with their inaugural performance on home soil.

“We went out there, and we just took charge,” said Devon Maitozo, team member and coach of the Free Artists Creative Equestrians vaulting club, which constitutes Team USA this year. “I feel like we did one of our best sets that we’ve done. Just in watching my team, I saw people reaching their potentials in a lot of places and very few mistakes.”

The U.S. team partnered with Palatine, a 12-year-old Westphalian, who was imported from Germany in 2007 for the express purpose of competing at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. He is trained in dressage by team longeur Carolyn Bland.

In the male individual compulsory test, Germany’s Gero Meyer took the lead with a score of 8.401. German teammate Kai Vorberg followed with an 8.297. The remaining top five are Patric Looser of Switzerland (8.253), Stefan Csandl of Austria (8.077) and Petr Eim of the Czech Republic (7.923).

In individual competition, there remains a freestyle portion of Round 1 before the top 15 vaulters in both male and female divisions move into Round 2, which has a technical and a freestyle program.

Meyer said he was “absolutely satisfied” with his performance. “2010 will be my last [World Equestrian Games]. I really wanted to get here, and I got here, and I’m happy.”

Meyer, who placed second in individual vaulting competition at world championships in 2000, 2002 and 2006, vaulted on Grand Gaudino, a 16-year-old Hanoverian whom Meyer said was “doing his job very well.”

In the female individual compulsory test, Joanne Eccles of Great Britain topped the leader board with a score of 8.157. Following her are Simone Wiegele of Germany (8.037), Megan Benjamin of the United States (7.856), Rikke Laumann of Denmark (7.854) and Stefanie Kowald of Austria (7.836).

Eccles said she has had difficulty recently with the initial vault onto the horse’s back (called the mount). But the 2009 European Champion pulled it out when she needed to.

“It was my best mount I’ve done pretty much all year in competition,” she said. “That’s what actually helped my compulsories, and I think I had a pretty good set. I was really pleased with most of them. There’s not much I’d pick out from them that I was really disappointed in.”

Eccles sister, Hannah, is also competing in individual female vaulting and is currently in 16th place. Their father, John Eccles, is their longeur and trainer, and the Eccles family owns their vaulting horse, W.H. Bentley, a 16-year-old French warmblood-Dale pony cross.

The World Games’ youngest competitor, 9-year-old Robin Krause, competed on the French team, which is currently in fifth place in team standings. And China’s first WEG competitor – in any discipline – is Ling Yang, who turned in a score of 6.533 in the female individual compulsory test.

“I can’t even put words to how awesome that is,” Yang said. “I felt like that was just the icing on the cake for this whole trip.”

Countries competing in team vaulting are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, France, Great Britain, Germany, South Africa, Switzerland, Slovakia, Sweden and the United States. Countries with individual vaulters are: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, South Africa, the Russian Federation, Switzerland, Slovakia and the United States.

Judges are Suzanne Detol (USA), Jochen Schilffarth (GER), Erich Breiter (AUT), Martine Fournaise (FRA), Monika Eriksson (SWE), and Roland Boehlen (SUI).

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