NZL-Sir Mark Todd rides McClaren during the Cross Country for the FEI World Team and Individual Eventing Championship. 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon. Saturday 15 September. Photo Credit: Julie Butson. Copyright Photo: Libby Law Photography

Sir Mark Todd is always very considered in his comments about an event, and WEG proved no different.

The six-time WEG veteran figured there had never been so many clear rounds and clear inside time on a previous cross country at a world championship before. “Was it a true test? I don’t know. Is this the way the sport is going – making it less difficult? I have to get home and digest it all.”

And he was a little elusive however when it came to chat about the Tokyo Olympic Games. He was quick to say his starry McClaren “well might be” there but himself? “We’ll wait and see,” he said.

The championships had been a huge learning curve for the 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding, who is owned by Karie and David Thomson. Their dressage mark of 31.4 penalty points saw them 39th, but the 37.6 picked up on the cross country saw them slip to 59thwith the four in the showjumping took them to 73 penalty point in 57thspot.

The cross country brought with it an annoying duck out by McClaren at the problematic cascade. “My horse can be a little spooky so I decided to take the option where you go around it but unfortunately he still spooked sideways at the cascade. He was then a little bit distracted by all the crowds around there and we had a duck out to the left – other than that it was fantastic. I had a really good ride.”

Mark felt cross country course designer Captain Mark Phillips had been very clever in offering options for both the experienced and the less experienced. “For the inexperienced horses there are longer ways they can get around, taking up extra time without over-facing the horses. I think it was a course, if ridden sensibly, everybody could get around.”

Mark said McClaren’s eyes were on stalks in the big showjumping arena and never had he had to ride him quite so hard. “He came out today and tried very hard. He is a fabulous jumper but has never been in an arena like that before, so he was a little bit overawed in there. Unfortunately, the fence he had down he was looking at something off to the right, drifted left and we had it down . . . but other than that he jumped a super round. To finish in the bottom part of the draw was not what we were aiming for but you get that sometimes . . . sadly for me it always seems to be at a world championship but overall it has been a good competition.”

While the team result hadn’t quite gone the way the riders had hoped Mark said they all just had to pick themselves up, learn from it and go forward.

“The horse is very much at the beginning of his career and he will certainly have learnt a lot from this week. I am sure in the next couple of years he will be a real star.”

By DianaDobson, NZ team media liaison

Photo by Libby Law Photography