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The A-Z of 2018

by Sam Watson

A is for Allstar B

Superb in 2017 but sublime in 2018. His name may well be a self-fulfilling prophecy as this horse is rapidly becoming an Eventing All Star with his top-level success. Your world champion, and EquiRatings Horse of the Year,  kicks-off the list.

B is for Ballaghmor Class

Three four-stars under his belt now. The big Burghley win came back in 2017 but he added a 2nd place (Burghley) and 5th place (Badminton) in 2018. A top class year for a top class horse.

C is for Classic Moët

In 2014 (WEG) and 2016 (Burghley), she demonstrated unrivalled speed at the highest level and against the best in the world. In 2018, weather conditions at Badminton delivered a test that played to her strengths and she obliterated the opposition to win a first four-star for both horse and rider.....by five marks. The sight of a smiling Jonelle and Molly galloping up the hill at Tryon was one our moments of the year. 

D is for Debutants

Cooley Master Class kicked-off the four-star season with a win on his four-star debut at Kentucky, a very rare achievement for a horse. Thibault Fournier broke the EquiRatings database by becoming the first rider to win on their four-star debut at the end of the European four-star season at Pau. His steed, Siniani De Lathus was also on debut. 

E is for ERM Champion

Christopher Burton has long been dubbed the fastest man on turf by our analysts. It was primarily this attribute that helped him on his way to bagging 126 ranking points throughout the 2018 Event Rider Masters season, giving him a comfortable win over Laura Collet (105) in second. Lots of things in the sport are hard to predict, Chris Burton making the time is not. 

F is for Force de France

The French have now won their home four-star (Les Etoiles des Pau) four years in a row thanks to the aforementioned youngster Thibault Fournier. It once again signals strength from the reigning Olympic champions who also finished third at WEG. Special mention in the F category for Frankie Thieriot Stutes - amatuer rider, mother, broadcaster and her horse, Chatwin, was the the only horse in 2018 to win two CCI events at international three and four star level. 

G is for GBR

Britain lived up to its name and was nothing short of Great in 2018. Double gold at WEG backed up a team gold from the Europeans last season. The Brits recorded the best ever team finishing score in the history of the World Equestrian Games, 88.8, beating their own record of 92.9 which was set in Kentucky 2010. Five British riders occupy the top eight at the end of the year’s FEI world rankings. They also finished either first or second at Kentucky (Townend 1st), Badminton (Townend 2nd), Luhmuhlen (Collett 2nd), Burghley (Townend 2nd), WEG (Canter 1st) and Pau (Tattersall 2nd). The powerhouse of Eventing is back. 

H is for Heroine

Allstar B started our list, but his pilot, Ros Canter, has been one off the most endearing champions to grace the sport. She came close to topping the world rankings at Pau, but it looks inevitable that her time will come on May 1st 2019. Three of the last four world champions in Eventing have been female, but 2011 was the last time we had a female world No.1 (Mary King). The sport should be ready to celebrate Ros in May next year. 

I is for Ingrid

She began the season with an Event Rider Masters title on home turf at Wiesbaden. She finished it by steering Asha P to become the seven-year-old world champion. The bit in the middle, losing the World Games with the last pole down, will be one of low points of the season for her. The reigning European Champion will back challenging for all the top honours in 2019. 

J is for Jonelle

One half of an iconic Eventing couple, Jonelle has been an inspiration to riders all around the world for some time. In 2018, she took that to a new level. Back-to-back four-star titles. Classic Moët has her own place in this list, but Faerie Dianimo was magnificent under pressure at Luhmuhlen to land a quick top-level double for the Kiwi Wonder Woman. On the tough days, Jonelle is the one to back. 

K is for Krajewski

Big long-format wins at Bramham (finishing on a sub-20 score) and Boekelo were amongst a handful of big wins for the emerging German superstar, but Aachen is hallowed turf for most equestrians and that win is arguably her performance of the year. 19.9 dressage test on Chipmunk at WEG is the third best dressage score ever seen at a World Championships. Big player in 2019.  

L is for La Biosthetique - Sam FBW

The greatest Event horse of all-time retired this year. He won six majors, surpassing the great Priceless who won four. A double-Olympic champion plus a WEG, Badminton, Burghley and Luhmuhlen. We have written elsewhere as to why his level of success might never again be emulated. 

M is for Mr

Two big runner-ups in the 2018 season were Mr Chunky (WEG) and Mr Bass (Luhmuhlen). Both finished on their dressage scores in testing competitions and both look set to be massive players for Badminton 2019. Only two horses with a Mr prefix have landed a major title and both were ridden by Andrew Nicholson - Mr Smiffy (Burghley 2000) and Mr Cruise Control (Luhmuhlen 2013). Special mention here for Millie Dumas - 50 cross country rounds in 2018 and not a single jumping fault. 

N is for Nereo

Another great to call time on a glittering career. Just five international wins on his CV but they were Badminton, Pau, Aachen, Bramham and Barbury. He finished 2nd at Burghley three times, was 3rd at both Badminton and WEG 2010, and just missed the podium when taking 4th place at the London Olympics. Loved by all. 

O is for Oliver

At the opening four-star of 2018 (Kentucky) he not only beat Michael Jung to set-up a Grand-Slam attempt, but he also knocked the German maestro off the top spot of the FEI World Rankings. His answer to the news: “About time!” He retained the top spot all year. 

P is for Padraig

Individual silverware doesn’t come easily on the world stage in Eventing. This Irishman put his country back on the map when taking home two silver medals at this year’s WEG. He looked comfortable at Badminton earlier in the season and could have the world at his feet with his talented equine partner, Mr Chunky as they head into 2019. A Badminton/Burghley double? The Irish believe. 

Q is for Quality Purdey

Christopher Burton was the winner of Saumur and the runner-up at Aachen with this exciting mare. Australia didn’t grab too many major headlines in 2018 but this combination have a very bright future. 

R is for Ringwood Sky Boy

It was lucky number 13 for Tim Price and Ozzie as they finally landed a four-star win after 12 previous attempts. Burghley has been a phenomenal hunting ground for this pair, finishing 2nd (2015), 4th (2016), 5th (2017) and now a winner in 2018. It is 2-2 in the Price house in terms of four star wins (with three of the four coming in their first 18 months of parenthood). 

S is for Stellor

Horseware Stellor Rebound kicked-off his season by finishing second at the ERM opener at Chatsworth. He loves this venue, in four visits he has finished 1st, 2nd, 2nd and 8th. However, it was his 5th place at WEG made Ireland realise what a superstar him, and his rider, have been. Their dressage test (26.3) set up a famous team performance, the second best ever test for an Irish rider at a World Games, only behind Sasha Harrison and All Love Du Fenaud (23.6 - Jerez 2002). 

T is for Tryon

A last minute volunteer to host what is likely the last World Equestrian Games as we know it. The venue will be a world class addition to many equestrian events for years to come. The Eventing world spent the final hours, days, weeks and months pondering the question of 2018 - “Hill, or no hill?”. Well, there was a hill, and sixteen horses, spearheaded by Classic Moet and Arctic Soul, galloped enthusiastically up the man-made obstacle to finish clear and within the time. Thank you Tryon for stepping up.

U is for Upsilon

Eventing’s most eligible bachelor completed three internationals in 2018 and he won them all. The Barbury ERM double will be a favourite amongst many of his fans, but the stats chaps have to mention the Millstreet Nations Cup performance where he posted a 16.5 dressage and a finishing score of 17.3! 

V is for Vassily De Lassos

Four international completions for this 9-year-old in 2018 and on all four occasions he finished fourth. The venues included Tattersalls, Aachen and WEG, and across all four runs he added just 1.2 penalties to his first phase score. Andrew Hoy has won four majors - Burghley (1979, 2004), Kentucky (2006) and Badminton (2006). This youngster could provide the fifth title. For now, all roads lead to Tokyo. We might see a Luhmuhlen visit in 2019 but Badminton and Burghley look unlikely. 

W is for Willingapark Clifford

He retained his Adelaide four-star title. The event first ran as a four-star twenty years ago in 1999 and he has became the first horse to win the Australian major twice. No horse show jumped clear at Adelaide this year and only three of the 24 starters jumped clear on cross-country day. Special mention her for Ryan Wood - 114 cross country rounds this season at national level in the US and jumped clear in every one of them (and made the time in 97!). Some year. 

X is for X

Tricky one X. In this case, it is the multiplication sign. 2018 saw the removal of the dressage multiplier. Of the 7 four-star events held in 2018, none would have had a different winner had the multiplier still been in place. A very positive move for the sport and one the FEI deserve credit for. Still more we can do but this has worked well. 

Y is for Young Guns

We love watching what becomes of the winner of the Blenheim 8&9 year-old class. Landvision, Oslo, Quimbo and Faerie Dianimo have all won this class and gone on to major titles. This year’s champion looks special in London 52, ridden by Laura Collett. They were runners-up in a tough ERM leg at Arville and then arguably produced a career PB when again taking second spotlate in the season at Boekelo. Is this the next Blenheim graduate to go on to major success? The early signs are promising. 

Z is for Z

You have to pronounce it 'Zee' though. The US event horse ridden by Phillip Dutton had a serious year when stepping up to four-star level and finished 4th at Kentucky. He won the WEG test event at Tryon and then allowed his pilot to once again be the best from the US at a major championship. At 10 years of age, his best is most likely still ahead of him, an exciting equine star to round out this year’s list.

with thanks for Eventing Nation and Ben Clark for supporting images

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