Australia brings home the gold
IT WAS a matter of saving the best until last at the World Equestrian Games at Tryon, North Carolina.
While the Australian competitors in every section performed personal bests and came close to winning a medal, it was four-in-hand carriage driver Boyd Exell who brought home the gold medal and was crowned world champion for the fifth time.
Driving with a recently broken ankle that had only been out of a cast for 10 days, he won the dressage phase, was third in the marathon and second in the cones-driving, to take the title.
On the difficult marathon course he also found the brakes on his carriage were compromised, which caused problems.
“Hazards three, four and five are all up and down dips, so the reins were around my head one moment and then on the floor and then round my neck, but we fought, we didn’t give up, we kept fighting all the way,” Exell said.
“Luckily the horses kept digging deep.
“They felt amazing, with lots of power. As I came up to the last hazard, I called their names and they all upped their game, came alive, and said ‘let’s go!’”
In the vaulting, the strong, midfield performances of the young Australian team was a guide to future success.
Jamie Hocking, the 21-year-old farmhand from woolsheds in South Australia, finished in 13th place in the men’s section with a score of 7.410.
“I am really happy that we all went in and everything went according to plan,” he said.
“I felt relaxed and confident.”
Jamie was the only rider to compete on his own horse, French Kiss.
The rest of the team rode borrowed horses.
The top-placed Australian woman was the experienced competitor Ruth Skrzypek who was 14th individually.
Australia’s sole para-dressage competitor, Emma Booth, performed well in both her tests, finishing fourth in the individual test.
After she was placed fifth in the freestyle to music, riding Mogelvangs Zidane to Man From Snowy River-themed tunes, there was controversy, with four of the five judges scoring her well over
70 per cent, and the US judge scoring the test 6 per cent less.
Her final overall score was 71.193, with Angelika Trabert of Germany taking the bronze medal with 71.840.
“I am so happy with my beautiful boy,” Booth said.
“He gave me a great ride, and medal or not, I’m over the moon with this incredible horse.
“I’m extremely lucky to be on this journey with him.”
DRIVING EXCELLENCE: Boyd Exell wins gold at the World Equestrian Games.