Gold Medal Winners Live The American Dream As Team USA Claims Memorable World Title Win in Bank of America Merrill Lynch Jumping Competition

Sep 22, 2018 - 1:08 AM
For Immediate Release


Tryon, NC USA – September 21, 2018 – The United States delivered a first world team title as they triumphed in a dramatic finale to Friday’s Bank of America Merrill Lynch Jumping Championship at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC).
McLain Ward and Clinta


The U.S. Trust Arena rocked to its rafters as McLain Ward powered the host nation home after a head-to-head jump-off, the first in team Jumping history to do so at an FEI World Equestrian Games™, against Sweden, which was required to decide gold medal glory.


Ward and Clinta had a chance to win it in regulation time, needing a clear round to deny Sweden, who saw Henrik von Eckermann (Toveks Mary Lou), Malin Baryard-Johnsson (H&M Indiana) and Fredrick Jonsson (Cold Play) all claim clear rounds to finish on an overall team score of 20.59.
Devin Ryan and Eddie Blue


Ward had one fence down, sending it into a jump-off, where all four team riders jumped again with times and faults collated, and it was the United States that triumphed by more than two seconds as Ward, Devin Ryan (Eddie Blue) and Laura Kraut (Zeremonie) all went clear and Adrienne Sternlicht (Cristalline) had four faults.


Baryard-Johnsson apart, the Swedish team – anchored by European Individual champion Peder Fredrcison and H&M Christian K – also went clear, yet their immense effort was finally beaten by an ice-cool Ward on another beautiful day in North Carolina.
Adrienne Sternlicht and Cristalline


The German quartet of Simone Blum, who also leads the individual competition heading into Sunday’s final, Laura Klaphake, Maurice Tebbel and Marcus Ehning took Bronze, with the three remaining 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifying places being filled by overnight leaders Switzerland, the Netherlands and surprise package Australia.


“It has been a very long three or four days and I take my hat off to Sweden,” Ward said. “I didn’t expect that charge from them today. I knew the situation. I had one fence down and then I knew I couldn’t afford a time fault. I got a second opportunity in the jump-off. I wanted to go in and just do the best round I could. All the guys came through brilliantly and I am so proud to be American today.”
Laura Kraut and Zeremonie


Kraut, meanwhile, added, “This is right up there with everything I have achieved in my career. The team spirit has been amazing and I so can’t believe it.”


United States Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland joined Kraut in struggling to comprehend what his team had achieved, especially having done it in such dramatic fashion.
McLain Ward, Adrienne Sternlicht, Laura Kraut, and Devin Ryan in their
presentation ceremony.


“This was sport at its best,” he said. “The odds on a jump-off being required were incredible, although we realized it was a possibility. This, today, is why we do it. We have been dreaming about this for so long. We have a tremendous group of talented riders.”


While the team competition concluded in unforgettable fashion, the leading 25 riders booked their place in Sunday’s final.
Team USA soak up the moment during their victory lap.


Blum, aboard DSP Alice, leads the list on a score of 2.47 penalties, with the top ten also including Ward, Max Kuhner, Cian O’Connor, Israel’s Danielle Goldstein and former Olympic champion Steve Guerdat.


Also firmly in contention, meanwhile, are the likes of Ehning, Kraut, Ryan and current world number one Harrie Smolders.


Blum said, “I am so happy. It was my third clear round here and Alice was amazing. She was fighting for me and I’m so happy. Alice is in very good shape here. She is quiet and focused and I feel very good and comfortable with her. She loves the hot weather.”


“I am so proud that I am qualified for Sunday. I think that’s a huge success and I need to stay focused now. We need two more really good rounds and then we will see.”


Boyd Exell and Team Look Sharp After Polaris Driving Dressage Phase


The world’s top-ranked driver Boyd Exell has his sights set on another FEI Driving World Championship title, starting in fine fashion by winning the Dressage phase of the Polaris RANGER Driving competition at the WEG on Friday. The Australian left the arena on a score of 31.68 besting his hottest opponents, home favorite Chester Weber and Dutch multi-medalist Ijsbrand Chardon.


The United States team with Misdee Wrigley-Miller (ranked 4th) and James Fairclough (11th) along with Weber are leading the team ranking on 77.10 in front of the Dutch (87.43) and France (101.40).
Boyd Exell and team during the Dressage phase of Polaris Driving competition.


Exell put in a spectacular test, as his team of matching dark horses perfected simultaneous movement extended trot and stood motionless for the required eight seconds of the halt. Scoring a 10 for presentation, he built on all the experience gathered in winning four world champion titles, two of them back-to-back at previous WEG competitions.


“I have a super experienced team and did only ten minutes of trotting to prepare them then I had them resting in the shade. You don’t want to leave your best driving out of the arena,” said Exell. “They were so powerful in the arena. It felt like turning a V8 into a V10 engine.”
Chester Weber and team finished second in the Dressage phase.


Chester Weber, Silver medalist in France in 2014 behind Exell, had to drive in right after his strongest opponent.


“That is only motivating me. My only concern was that the crowd would be loud, but when it was my turn we had the whisper campaign going on to all US fans to keep quieter. We have built up for this all season. A score of 35 – I could not be more pleased.”


Last driver out was Dutch veteran Ijsbrand Chardon, finishing third in the field of 19 drivers. His rein-back over three meters scored 8.1 – more than both, Exell and Weber, but was only on 8.8 for presentation.
Ijsbrand Chardon and team finished the first phase in third place.


“Ten points behind Boyd – that is a lot. We have to take every risk in Marathon and cones now.”


Driving is a third-generation family affair for the Chardon’s. His wife Paulien and one of his daughters are back steppers for the older Ijsbrand. For the first time in his storied career, Ijsbrand is joined on the strong Dutch team, with his son Bram (25).


“We help each other and then he makes his race and I make mine. Together we aim for the team.”


Marathon competition will open with Phase A at 10:15 a.m. EST on the White Oak Course at TIEC, using the same undulating terrain as the Cross-Country track for the discipline of Eventing held during the first week of WEG. Phase B will begin with the first combination at approximately 10:45 a.m. EST.


Glorious Dutch Performances End British Reign Of Supremacy for Adequan® Para-Dressage Team Gold 


The Netherlands ended one of world sport’s longest unbeaten records when they were crowned champions in Team competition of the Adequan® Para-Dressage at Tryon 2018.


Great Britain’s Para-Dressage team had won every Paralympic, World and European Team Gold medal in the sport’s history, but an inspired Dutch team halted that imperious run at Tryon Stadium.


The Dutch quartet of Rixt van der Horst, Sanne Voets, Nicole den Dulk and Frank Hosmar thwarted a resilient British challenge to finish top on a score of 223.957%.
Nicole den Dulk and Wallace NOP


The British team – Sophie Wells, Sir Lee Pearson, Natasha Baker and Erin Orford – took second on 222.957%, with the Bronze medal going to Germany’s team of Regine Mispelkamp, Steffen Zeibig, Elke Philipp and Dr Angelika Trabert on 219.001%. All three countries also secured qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.


In collecting a team silver, Pearson became the most decorated Para-Dressage rider in FEI World Equestrian Games™ history, gaining a seventh podium finish to add to his six previous gold medals.
Rixt van der Horst and Findsley


Two days of team riding across five different grades effectively came down to what happened in Grade III, and the main challengers Van der Horst and Baker did not disappoint, with Baker finishing top on 74.118% aboard Mount St John Diva Dannebrog, but Horst’s 73.559% score with Findsley kept the Netherlands in charge.


It meant that the final British rider – Grade III competitor Erin Orford – had to score a personal best of 72.247% to give Britain gold, but despite a brave effort on Dior, she could only manage 69.029%.


“The pressure was on the British,” Voets said. “We came here with one aim and that was to win a team medal to qualify directly for Tokyo.”
Frank Hosmar and Alphaville NOP


Ultimately, that medal proved to be gold, and even though the winning margin was just 0.640%, no one could argue that when it came to consistent scoring and performances, the Netherlands discovered a winning formula.


Voets added, “It is awesome. We had this historic moment at the Olympic Games in Rio when we won the first Individual Gold and now it is the first Team Gold at WEG.
Sanne Voets and Demantur NOP


“With the team, that is even better. It is great to pull out a personal best on a day when you need it the most. It’s fantastic when it all comes together at the right time. WEG was a good test and I think we passed.”


Baker, meanwhile, said, “I had no option but to go in and ride for my life. I knew Rixt’s score going in and I knew I had to beat it. My horse was amazing in there. She was just amazing.


“I am just so proud of her, so, so proud. I was much more confident today and felt so much more prepared. If that is what we can do (as a partnership) in seven months, in another year’s time she will just grow in confidence. I absolutely adore that horse.”
Nicole den Dulk, Rixt van der Horst, Sanne Voets, and Frank Hosmar with Chef d’Equipe Joyce Heuitink in their presentation ceremony.


Great Britain Para-Dressage performance manager Sarah Armstrong said, “Our target was to return with a team medal and we’ve done that and to qualify for Tokyo and we’ve done that. They have worked so hard, the athletes and the whole support team behind them. We knew it was going to be tough, but I am thrilled with what they’ve delivered.”


For Germany, it represented an outstanding result as they joined the Netherlands and Britain in claiming a Paralympic passport to Japan.


“It is just unbelievable,” Mispelkamp said. “It’s overwhelming. I have no words.”


Teammate Trabert added, “I was on the team since 1991 and came back only now since I have this fantastic horse. It is overwhelming to be back again.”
For more information on the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 and to view start lists and results, please visit purchase tickets or for more information about the WEG, please visit

Click here to watch the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 promo video!

Media InquiriesFor media inquiries about the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018, please visit or contact one of the following press officers:
National Press Officer – Carly Weilminster at or +1 (828) 863-1144
International Press Officer – Gayle Telford at or 0044(0) 203 176 0355
For more information from the FEI, please contact Shannon Gibbons at or 0041-78-750-6146.


Photo Credit ©Sportfot. These photos may be used once in relation to this press release with proper credit.


About the Tryon International Equestrian Center
Tryon International Equestrian Center at Tryon Resort, host of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018, is one of the world’s premier equestrian lifestyle destinations, with first-class facilities for all eight FEI disciplines. From carousel to competition, the mission of Tryon Resort is to celebrate the magic of the horse, grow equestrian sport, and increase access to this majestic animal. Tryon Resort is a spring, summer and fall haven for equestrian competitors and enthusiasts, and a year-round destination for connoisseurs of diverse cuisine and shopping, lodging getaways, and family entertainment. Learn more at


About the FEI World Equestrian Games™
The FEI World Equestrian Games™, held every four years in the middle of the summer Olympic cycle, is the property of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), the world governing body for horse sport organized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It is one of the biggest events on the global sporting calendar, combining World Championships in the Olympic disciplines of Jumping, Dressage and Eventing, the Paralympic discipline of Para-Equestrian Dressage, as well as Driving, Endurance, Vaulting and Reining.
The inaugural FEI World Equestrian Games™ were hosted in Stockholm (SWE) in 1990. Since then the Games have been staged in The Hague (NED) in 1994, Rome (ITA) in 1998, Jerez (ESP) in 2002, and Aachen (GER) in 2006. The first Games to be organized outside Europe were the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky (USA) 2010. The Games came back to Europe for the 2014 edition, the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy (FRA), which attracted more than 500,000 on-site spectators and a worldwide television audience of 350 million, as well as delivering an economic impact of €368 million to the French economy.The Tryon 2018 Games offer qualifying slots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The FEI World Equestrian Games™ History Hub can be viewed here.


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