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EquiRatings' Team: WEG Predictions

by Diarm Byrne

It is getting busier and busier here at EquiRatings HQ and all roads lead to Tryon. Sam is gone, team-training camp first and then the Irish horses get on the plane. For obvious reasons, we probably won’t hear from him that much over WEG. We do have a great team covering the action at Tryon, people reporting from the venue, from the office, crunching the numbers and managing the apps. And we have riders!

SAP are the Official Fan sponsor for Tryon 2018 so we will putting out lots of content together and also have Stacks fans making predictions. Over the next couple of weeks, we will have podcasts, articles, graphics and videos. To get us started, we asked the team for the early calls.

Note: Some of the calls were in by the time the Michael Jung news broke on Tuesday. I have left them in because I think its important to show how big that news was.

One liners guys, who wins the individual gold?

Sean: WEG champions don’t appear from nowhere – Opgun Louvo, La Biosthetique Sam FBW and Toytown all had individual medals to their name when winning. SAP Hale Bob OLD and Ingrid Klimke have the full package. They haven’t looked as good in 2018 as they did last year which will give hope to their rivals, but ultimately their proven class will likely prevail.

Maggie: It’s time for a changing of the guard. Michael Jung began an unprecedented run in 2010 with his first appearance on the world stage; 2018 will see the rise of Julia Krajewski and Chipmunk FRH.

Diarm: I think it is Ingrid. The European champ, Aachen 2017, experienced rider, will be strong in first phase, can go fast when needed and can jump. I’m expecting the happiest of happy Hale Bob days.

Jenni: Women have taken the top spot at two of the last three World Equestrian Games and are poised to repeat the trend at Tryon. Julia Krajewski and Chipmunk FRH continue their red hot form and take gold.

Nicole: I’ve gone in so many different directions since I started trying to write this, I have confused even myself. Diarm won’t let me sit on the fence this time though so I’m going to agree. We will all be wishing Diarm a Happy Hale Bob day.

John: I have lost out by betting against Michi Jung before! And on Roxy, in America, he’s my pick. [Ed – great that John is wrong already]

Tom: Their results have been outstanding this season and I believe after two championships she will have the experience to perform at her best. It’s Julia & Chipmunk.

Ciaran: Let’s keep it simple, Tina Cook & Billy the Red win gold.

Who picks up the next two individual medals?

Sean: Jonelle Price has taken the first half of 2018 by storm but it will be Tim’s time to shine in Tryon – Cekatinka had more up her sleeve when winning Boekelo and her first phase is improving. Piggy French and Quarrycrest Echo tick a lot of boxes and are capable of taking a podium finish.

Maggie: Jonelle Price and Classic Moet utilize their speed to get up for silver while Quarrycrest Echo rises to the occasion under Piggy French for bronze.

Diarm: The finale of the Event Rider Masters at Blair only served to further excite the Chris Burton fans who now believe that the stars are aligning for Cooley Lands. I am one of those fans. Like Mr Bass and Leo, I have been a fan of Chipmunk and Julia from the start. They are good enough to finish in top 3.

Jenni: German whitewash … Ingrid Klimke and SAP Hale Bob OLD and Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST battle it out for the other medals.

Nicole: Chipmunk FRH and Julia Krajewski the Silver, Sara Algotsson Ostholt & Wega the Bronze.**I reserve the right to change my mind on many more occasions before the start of competition.

John: Hard to look past Burto for an individual medal. As she’s having an amazing year, and should fly around inside or near the OT on XC I’m putting Jonelle on my podium too.

Tom: Piggy & Quarrycrest Echo, Michi & Fisherrocana

Ciaran: Ingrid & Maxime

Team Winners?

Sean: Australia have slipped in under the radar here. They were in team gold after cross-country at Rio and this is an infinitely better bunch of show jumpers. All of their boys are experienced and tough competitors. Griffiths (Paulank Brockagh) and Rose (Virgil) have proven four-star horses under them. Burton (Cooley Lands) is the on-fire frontman and the seasoned duo of Hoy and Levett are both sitting on potential superstars. European dominance is halted by the wonders from down-under.

Maggie: With the defection of Rocana, Germany is no longer the decisive favorite, but can still edge out New Zealand and Great Britain so long as both Julia and Ingrid stay on current form.

Diarm: The FischerRocana news changed everything. It looks like one of the most open team competitions in a very long time now. I have been saying Kiwis for a long time. Losing the experience of Clarke Johnstone was a blow but the Kiwis will be leading the charge to stop the Europeans.

Jenni: Germany reclaims their championship form and takes gold with three riders finishing inside the top 10. [Ed – submitted before the MJ news broke).

Nicole: Germany have the hottest form but they haven’t quite delivered in the last 2 Championships (Strzegom 2017 & Rio 2016) and without their most experienced combination in Michael Jung & FischerRocana I am backing Team GBR.  They have a team of out and out 4* horses and if it’s a tough WEG, they’ll be the ones to beat.

John: New Zealand. They beat Germany in Aachen and have a really strong team should they need to fall back on the “drop” score.

Tom: Germany, Great Britain, Australia [Ed – submitted before the MJ news broke).

Ciaran: Team GBR followed by NZ/AUS/IRL.......... Germany fall apart. I am aware that Diarm will be scoffing at this prediction whilst gripping tightly to his spread sheet full of stats but I’m sticking with it...

What team will take WEG by surprise?

Sean: Ireland’s three boys (Daniels, McCarthy & Watson) all have individual top-ten finishes at four-star this year and Sarah Ennis took an individual top-ten from the Europeans last year. Aoife Clark finished in the top-ten at the London Olympics – when you start adding a whole load of individual top-tens together you start to get a very healthy team. Ireland won the first ever World Championships back in 1966 – if they can produce something similar 52 years later then Tryon will likely be brought to its knees on Sunday night.

Maggie: France will need a number of things to go right on cross-country day, but if they can scrape together three clear rounds they’ll be right in the final mix on stadium day.

Diarm: To be a surprise, I guess it has to be outside the Big Six? I will go Canada. Reliable cross country horses and looks like a good team spirit. Would love a big result for John Rumble in the Jungle.

Jenni: We learned not to underestimate the French in Rio, and Sweden also comes forward with an intriguing team as London 2012 individual silver medalist Wega returns to the squad. 

Nicole: The Swedish.  Team Silver in Strzegom last year they’ve got a squad with a lot of experience behind them mixed with some young talent.

John: Ireland. They’re in the mix with the likes of Sweden and Italy but those teams have won medals recently, we haven’t! If Ireland can hold form during the championships, a previous Achilles heel, they’ll be on the podium. Don’t be surprised if Japan turn in a big performance prior to their home Olympics.

Tom: Australia could be stronger than they seem, but I think Sweden have the potential to emulate what the Dutch team achieved 4 years ago.

Ciaran: Ireland, 3 of our team have been top 10 in a 4* this year, all 4 have rock solid 3* form and performances at the level. We will need to take our chances but the quality is there

Who leads the dressage?

Sean: Julia Krajewski won’t get the Friday afternoon slot so it will be a pillar to post individual win for SAP Hale Bob OLD and Ingrid Klimke.

Maggie: It’ll be mix of French and Germans in the top five placings after dressage, but SAP Hale Bob OLD and Ingrid Klimke are the perennial favorites in this phase for a reason.

Diarm: Could we have another moment like William at Rio? If we could bet on it I would be looking for a bit if value and I would go for Ros Canter and Allstar B. Just a small bet though, all going to plan and Julia and Ingrid will be three or four marks ahead of the rest.

Jenni: Julia Krajewski and Chipmunk FRH have delivered two sub-20 scores over the past two months. Even with an early draw they will be very tough to catch.

Nicole: Julia Krajewski & Chipmunk FRH will deliver for the Germans in the first phase.  He has been sub 20 twice already in 2018 and lead strong fields convincingly at both Bramham and in particular Aachen.

John: Thibault Valette and Qing de Briot. I really like Thibault and his lovely horse, they haven’t quite shown the form of a season or two ago but they definitely have an excellent test

Tom: Julia and Chipmunk

Ciaran: Julia Krajewski and Chipmunk

Biggest Climber on Saturday?

Sean: The insult masked as a compliment or is it vice versa? Classic Moet and Arctic Soul have become extremely proficient in the first phase so they should not be labelled as climbers. Rioghan Rua is a candidate but I will side with the other fiery chestnut in the field that finds standing still in the dressage arena a complete waste of time when they could instead be devouring ground on the cross-country course – Billy The Red.

Maggie: The biggest climbers are those with less-than-competitive dressage scores paired up with consistent fast clear rounds. Rioghan Rua and Cathal Daniels are likely to shoot up the rankings after cross-country day.

Diarm: Another Canadian answer, Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me jump clear on Saturday and make a big climb.

Jenni: Cathal Daniels and his red queen Rioghan Rua will give us quite a show on cross country.

Nicole: Jonelle Price & Classic Moet will be slightly off the pace after the Dressage but their customary fast Cross Country round will see them thrown right back into contention.

John: This feels like something that would be a lot easier to answer if you had a historical database of dressage scores and average time penalties for every WEG nominated entry! I’m going to put Gemma Tattersall, Sidney Dufresne and Sarah Ennis in this bracket but I really actually hope they all have brilliant dressage scores!

Tom: Jonelle and Classic Moët

Ciaran: Cathal Daniels, hopefully clear and fast and will make swift upward progress on Saturday.

Two horses that people should be talking about more than they are?

Sean: Just one you should all be talking about and aren’t, Mr Chunky and Padraig McCarthy for Ireland.  

Maggie: Wega is a perennial performer who never seems to get her due under Sara Algotsson-Ostholt yet has finished in the top five in 65% of her FEI starts including a second at the London Olympics. Phillip Dutton’s young ride Z has all the pieces to be a surprise contender at Tryon as well; he won the test event here with what was a then-personal best dressage test, which he then bested in his most recent outing, he finished on his dressage score at his first four-star this spring, and he has only one rail on his FEI record during his entire partnership with Phillip Dutton.

Diarm: Home advantage and an old pro in the saddle, I am glad to see Z being flagged up for a big performance but I am going to pick a different US horse, I think Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous will do very well. I also think Foxwood High and Selena O’Hanlon could put three good phases together for Canada.

Jenni: Z has the master on board in Phillip Dutton and is a freak of a jumper. Andrew Hoy made a trip to Tryon to compete at the WEG Test Event and returns with Vassily de Lassos, who has only accumulated 3.2 total time penalties and one rail down in his entire international career. Look for both horses to finish in the top 10.

Nicole: Kai Ruder & Colani Sunrise, or as I like to call them, the forgotten Germans.  You have to go back to 2013 to find a Cross Country jumping penalty on their record and they have never had more than one pole down in the Show Jumping.  Individually 6th in Strzegom last year they are overshadowed by the German ‘Big Guns’ but watch them closely, they’ll need to step into big shoes left by Michi & Rocana. Sara Algotsson Ostholt & Wega, the individual silver medallists from London.  We haven’t seen a huge amount of this mare at top level in the last few years but they have rarely been out of the top 3 and have won their last 2 starts this year.  They lost the individual gold in London to the mighty Sam with a pole down in the show jumping and will be flying under the radar here.

John: Vega and Sara A-O. Never quite shown the form that made them individual medallists in London but that performance is in there. Toledo de Kerser has been dinner table conversation in our house about the “best” horse in the sport for a couple of seasons – he could shine.

Tom: Vassily de Lassos, he is still only young. Has only added a total of 3.2 penalties to his dressage scores at 3 star level. May not be in contention after dressage but one to finish on his dressage score and make it look easy. If team orders permit (doubtful) Trésor Mail could refresh everybody's mind on how good he is.

Ciaran: Mr. Chunky (Padraig McCarthy) & Quarrycrest Echo (Piggy French)

Who is going to make the time? Anyone?

Sean: Plenty. In London 2012 it was announced that the undulations of Greenwich Park would make the time impossible. In Malmo, the twists and turns. It’s 2018, 570 metres per minute on good ground doesn’t provide an impossible challenge in the professional era of eventing. Many Clouds won the Aintree Grand National in a time of 8m59s on good to soft in 2015, and this year on heavy ground it took Tiger Roll 9m40s to win (and he was carry 10lbs less). The times that we saw at WEG 2014 on heavy ground will not be replicated in Tryon on fast ground – hill or no hill. Classic Moet and Arctic Soul are obvious, Mr Chunky will join them.

Maggie: It was difficult but not impossible to make the time at the Tryon test event this past spring; WEG will likely be a different animal. Jonelle Price has been on fire, and routinely puts in one of the fastest rounds of the day with Classic Moet; if anyone can catch it, it will be this pair.

Diarm: The usual suspects. I think four or five will do it. Burton will make it look easy. Cekatinka and Tim Price won’t make it look easy but they will get the job done.

Jenni: Chris Burton and Cooley Lands never had a time penalty together until their final prep run at Haras du Pin, so expect them to return to that speedy form at Tryon. Quarrycrest Echo, Classic Moet and Billy The Red are also ones to watch.

Nicole: At the risk of sounding like a broken record Chris Burton & Cooley Lands will make it, as will Jonelle Price & Classic Moet. 

John: On paper it should be tough with number of efforts crammed into just 5700m but we have amazing riders at the moment. Hard to look past Burto and Jonelle for this feat.

Tom: Plenty will. Piggy French & Quarrycrest Echo, Donatien Schauly & Pivoine des Touches, Andrew Hoy & Vassily de Lassos, Jonelle & Classic Moet, Chris Burton & Cooley Lands, Ingrid & Bobby, Gemma & Arctic Soul.

Ciaran: Chris Burton, Padraig McCarthy & Jonelle....

Can anyone finish on their dressage score?

Sean: Classic Moet and Arctic Soul are both vulnerable on the final day. Billy The Red, Mr Chunky and Cooley Lands head the market on this one.

Maggie: It’s difficult to bet against a FODS from Burto, whatever he’s riding. At the risk of cheering on the home team, Z is capable of getting a FODS with P-Dutty in the irons. He’s never had a rail or a cross-country time penalty at any of CCI completions, and he’s finished six of his seven CCI starts.

Diarm: Being fast and being a good jumper under pressure. Smaller list but I think it will be done. Tina Cook, Chris Burton and Tim Price.

Jenni: Z will emerge as the hero for Phillip Dutton and the home nation. Cooley Lands and Billy The Red can absolutely deliver the elusive FOD. Classic Moet beat the odds when she won Badminton, but never underestimate Jonelle Price.

Nicole: I’m going for only one and I think it’ll be Chris Burton & Cooley Lands.

John: I think we’ll see two, but they won’t necessary be on the podium. Burto and Tina.

Tom: Classic Moet, Vassily de Lassos, Quarrycrest Echo, Cooley Lands

Ciaran: Chris Burton, Padraig McCarthy

Where are you watching the action?

Sean: It’s called the room. No one is allowed in there except me. It is perfectly circular with no windows. The ceiling, floor and wall are given a fresh coat of white paint every month. I will listen to Beethoven as I process data feeds from 17 monitors. There is a kettle and 31 blends of herbal tea. It is a productive environment.   

Maggie: On my couch in Philadelphia, in front of what I’ve termed my ‘battle station.’ This consists of the big screen TV live streaming the action and two laptops to manage both the media and the data simultaneously.

Diarm: The EquiRatings HQ in Dublin. Right next to the Guinness factory, I will be trying to keep Tom Carlile on the straight and narrow while send out updates. Most of the action happens through our Twitter channel so follow us there.

Jenni: Tryon’s mixed zone — a sacred space amidst the action where journalists stand shoulder-to-shoulder, jockeying for snappy quotes and exclusive one-liners from the riders. 

Nicole: At home, with multiple screens on the go, while hoping that the excitement doesn’t prove too much for the bump. I’m manging all the podcasts so stay tuned.

John: Best seat in the house, the on-site commentary box at Tryon!

Tom: Best seat in the house would be on Upsilon but I will settle for the EquiRatings office in Dublin, sat down next to Diarm.

Ciaran: I’m doing EquiRatings podcasts, videos and updates. I’ll be watching from my couch with the kids locked out so I can shout inappropriate things at the TV.

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