Olympic champion Ben Maher, legend Isabell Werth and World No.1 Martin Fuchs are among the stars that have been confirmed for the 2022 FEI World Championships in Herning.
Big names and talents from every corner of the planet have now been added to the definite entries list ahead of the start of the Jumping, Dressage, Para Dressage and Vaulting competition in the Danish city on August 6.
We can't wait to see whether Great Britain's Sir Lee Pearson can add to his incredible Para Dressage haul, and perhaps German Eventing star Ingrid Klimke can win her first World medal in Dressage. How will Charlotte Dujardin fare with her new horse, will the US defend their Team Jumping gold and who will take the Vaulting medals?
Maher & Explosion W and Fuchs & Leone Jei lead a stunning start list for what is a mouth-watering Jumping competition. Maher and his horse blew the rest away at Tokyo 2020, while Fuchs won this year’s Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final after partnering with Leone Jei to help Switzerland to European gold a year ago.
Maher and Fuchs will be among the favourites for Individual gold alongside Swedish pair Henrik von Eckermann & King Edward and Peder Fredricson & H&M All In. European champions André Thieme & DSP Chakaria of Germany could also be among the challengers, as will the USA’s Mclain Ward & Contagious, who looked so impressive in Tokyo.
Sweden have selected the team that took Olympic gold last year, with Von Eckermann and Fredricson joined by Malin Baryard Johnsson & H&M Indiana, who came so close to an Individual medal. Jens Fredricson & Markan Cosmopolit and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson & Ermindo W complete a frighteningly talented list.
“This is the squad that I think will perform best at the WC. It is an extremely strong squad with a lot of experience and horses that have shown good form all spring and summer,” said Swedish Team Manager, Henrik Ankarcrona.
“We have shown that we can be the best in the world. It is clear that we want to win.”
Maher is part of a talented Great Britain selection that features another Olympic gold medallist in Scott Brash, as well as young talents Harry Charles and Joe Stockdale. Jumping icon John Whitaker travels to Herning as a reserve.
The experienced Christian Ahlmann and Marcus Ehning are among Germany’s picks, while USA’s Brian Moggre will turn 21 years old during the championships.
Let’s not forget that it was a female athlete – Simone Blum – who won gold last time out in Tryon. Erynn Ballard is the highest-ranked woman who is taking part in the Jumping competition in 2022 as part of an all-female Canadian team.
Two big names have had to withdraw from Herning due to late injuries - Norway's Geir Gulliksen, who has a hip problem, and the Netherlands' Willem Greve.
In-form Greve was originally picked for the Dutch team but had to pull out after suffering a broken arm and ankle in a fall in mid-July. Jur Vrieling & Long John Silver move up to the team – the reigning Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ champions -- alongside Harrie Smolders, Sanne Thijssen and Olympic bronze medallist Maikel van der Vleuten.
Dutch national coach Jos Lansink said: “This is, of course, not easy for him. We have followed a plan together since February. It all worked out very well and now it is suddenly disrupted in such a way. What a downer.”
Germany feature two equestrian legends, but while one of them is heading to a seventh Worlds, another is making her debut -- in Dressage at least!
Isabell Werth will lead the German team looking to defend the title they won in Tryon, appearing with DSP Quantaz. Among her teammates will be multiple Eventing champion Ingrid Klimke, who brings Franziskus to her first Worlds in Dressage.
Frederic Wandres & Duke of Britain FRH and Benjamin Werndl & Famoso OLD also get the nod. Olympic champion Jessica von Bredow-Werndl misses out as she is expecting a baby soon, while Dorothee Schneider's Showtime has been hampered by an injury. Schneider & Faustus are the German team's reserve choice.
Germany's biggest challenge could come from hosts Denmark, whose quartet are each in the World’s top 20. It was confirmed on Monday that top-ranked Cathrine Laudrup-Dufour will be partnered with Vamos Amigos in Herning, with the 10-year-old selected ahead of the equally fabulous Bohemian. Laudrup-Dufour is joined by Carina Cassøe Krüth, Nanna Merrald Rasmussen and Daniel Bachmann Andersen.
Meanwhile, the USA will feature two of their Olympic silver medallists of last year, Steffen Peters & Suppenkasper and Adrienne Lyle & Salvino. Tokyo bronze medallists Great Britain include Charlotte Fry & Glamourdale, as well as Charlotte Dujardin with a horse she has competed with just four times, Imhotep.
Great Britain are always strong in Para Dressage, and Herning 2022 will be no different. They will be big favourites for Team gold with a squad that includes Lee Pearson, Georgia Wilson, Natasha Baker and Sophie Wells.
The Dutch, who won silver in Tokyo, feature Demi Haerkens, Frank Hosmar, Lotte Krijnsen and Sanne Voets. Roxanne Trunnell, who won two Individual golds at Tokyo 2020, will lead the USA as they look to again make the podium after their Team bronze at the Olympics.
Home nation Denmark also look strong, with Grade III double Olympic champion Tobias Thorning Jørgensen & Jolene Hill a real medal contender. A group featuring Katrine Kristensen, Karla Dyhm Junge and Nicole Johnsen will hope to go at least one better having finished fourth in the Team competition in Tokyo.
National coach Astrid Gemal said: "The four riders who will represent Denmark at the WC 2022 have been chosen, among other things, based on their sporting form and my belief that they all have an exciting future in international Para Dressage. In addition, all four of them have an enormously positive approach to contribute to the national team.
"It will be really great to ride the WC on home ground, and we will all see together very much looking forward to it – especially after last year's Paralympic Games in Tokyo, where the riders rode in front of empty stands. It will be a huge experience to ride for as many people as we expect to come to Herning."
No fewer than 28 nations have entered athletes for the Para Dressage competition, including 67-year-old Lee Frawley from the US Virgin Islands and Saudi Arabia's Ahmed Sharbatly -- the cousin of Olympic Jumping medallist Abdullah Sharbatly.
In Vaulting, we can look forward to seeing the top three in the World Male rankings – Lambert Leclezio, Lorenzo Lupacchini and Julian Wilfling – among entries from 10 nations.
17 nations will be represented in the Female Vaulting competition, including FEI Vaulting World Cup™ winner and World No.1 Manon Moutinho of France, as well as World No.2 Kimberly Pamler of the USA and World No.3 Eva Nagiller of Austria.
We can look forward to welcoming talents from every continent during Herning 2022. Brazil will be among those to look out for in Jumping with a squad that includes Felipe Amaral, Marlon Zanotelli and Pedro Veniss. Japan and Egypt will look to build on their showings in Tokyo. Ella Yunjing Wang will represent China, with Oliver Lazarus from South Africa and Roger Chammas from Lebanon.
In Dressage, we will see the first-ever Indian athletes competing in that discipline’s FEI World Championships. Anush Agarwalla, who we featured recently in this article, and Shruti Vora will wear their nation’s colours with pride.
Diana Al Shaer will represent Palestine, with Yessin Rahmouni from Morocco, Caroline Chew from Singapore and the well-established Yvonne Losos De Muniz from Dominican Republic.
See the full list of entries for all four disciplines here:
Words by Richard Mulligan