2018 weg jumping
The Swiss held on to the lead in the Bank of America team jumping championship at the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018, underway at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, in Mill Spring, North Carolina, on Sept. 20, but the hosts have moved up from overnight fourth into second spot ahead of tomorrow’s medal-decider in which the Top 10 nations will compete.

Team USA is stalking the leaders by less than a single penalty point and leaving them with absolutely no room for error. Germany is in third ahead of Sweden, The Netherlands, and Ireland, while France, Australia, Great Britain, and Canada have also made the cut.

And the individual placings got a big shake-up, with overnight leader, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat dropping to eighth following a single mistake this afternoon, while Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca rocketed all the way up from ninth to pole position when producing one of just five clears over another masterful track designed by Ireland’s Alan Wade.

America’s McLain Ward is now in second, with individual European champion Peder Fredricson from Sweden in third, Germany’s Simone Blum in fourth, and Ireland’s Cian O’Connor in fifth place.

The Swiss looked vulnerable when pathfinder Werner Muff (Daimler) left three fences on the floor, but Janika Sprunger pulled it back when collecting just a single time penalty with Bacardi VDL. Martin Fuchs and Clooney hit the second element of the penultimate double which proved one of the trickiest places on the 14-fence track, and when Guerdat’s mare, Bianca, lowered the oxer at fence nine then Andy Kistler’s side added nine to their first-day tally but still maintained the advantage, albeit a very narrow one.

Devin Ryan kicked off the U.S. effort with a single pole down from Eddie Blue, but both Adrienne Sternlicht (Cristalline) and anchorman McLain Ward (Clinta) picked up just a single time fault so Laura Kraut’s double-error with Zeremonie could be discarded.

“I woke up this morning and had some kind of epiphany that I needed to relax, and I think that translated into my ride,” Sternlicht said. “It’s a really difficult course. There’s fences falling everywhere and they are massive, so I really thought about taking each fence at a time and I think that’s where my time fault came. I was more focused on jumping a clear round because that’s what our team needed.”

Germany’s Blum and DSP Alice produced the first clear of the day to set her side on the road to a rapid recovery from eighth place after yesterday’s opening competition. And when team-mate Laura Klaphake followed that with a lovely clear over the poles and just one time fault things were looking very good indeed. But Klaphake wasn’t getting over-confident with two of her team-mates still to go.

“We’ve had two good rounds but sport is so hard, from one second to the other it can change, like yesterday until the fault (where her horse stopped) I had an amazing round, so we cross our fingers,” she said.

Maurice Tebbel and Don Diarado returned a nine-fault score line and then Marcus Ehning and Pret a Tout added eight more, but their final tally, when yesterday’s score was added into today’s result, left them on 18.09, so less than two fences behind the Swiss at the head of affairs.

Meanwhile the Italians crashed out when, already reduced to a three-man team, Luca Marziani’s stallion Tokyo du Soleil decided he wouldn’t jump the wall at fence three and the pair were eliminated. However de Luca, who competes in the uniform of the Italian air force, was determined to soldier on even though he’s only been riding the 10-year-old grey mare, Irenice Horta, since June of this year.

The top 65 athletes go into Sept. 21’s competition including individuals and the 10 qualified teams who will all compete in reverse order of merit.

Find Sept. 19 team jumping results at longinestiming.com/#!/equestrian/2018/1587/html/en/longinestiming/resultlist_J2T.html.