The USA defended their previous double championship title to take a hat trick gold medal at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™. The US teamspan, slide stopped and galloped their way to a convincing victory in the Reining Team Championship at The Horse Park in Kentucky. They dominated the leaderboard, filling first, third, fourth and ninth places and their final score of 674.5 left them almost 10 points clear of Belgium in silver medal position while Italy took bronze. And it was an historic moment for the Belgians as they claimed their first World Championship title in this discipline.
"We were always trying for third place, so silver is a dream come true!" said Belgium's Cira Baeck afterwards. However the team effort produced by the Americans was exceptional and, as US Chef d'Equipe Jeff Petska said, "we came here under a lot of pressure - reining is a big sport on our home soil, but my boys really rose to the occasion".
Tom McCutcheon was the first American to enter the ring and his score of 224.0 with Gunners Special Nite put him on level-pegging with first-day leader Stefano Massignan from Italy. Team mate Shawn Flarida left nothing to chance with RC Fancy Step.
"My ride was good and the noise coming from the crowd was deafening," the 41-year-old from Springboro, Ohio told the FEI. "I was hoping we could be good today and my horse was really sweet. I'm very lucky to be part of a dream team of horses and riders that have won over $9 million between us," he said after slotting into the number one spot on a score of 227.0 to seal the gold.
All of the US team members were medal winners at previous FEI World Equestrian Games but Craig Schmersal said today's victory was particularly special. "We may never put together another team like this - we have a great group of riders, and in 20 or 30 years I know I'll be proud and happy to look back and remember I was part of this" he said.
Belgium's silver medal was particularly creditable because first-line rider, Jan Boogaerts, only got the ride on Gumpy Grumpy a few weeks ago. "My own horse got a stifle infection and had to be operated on, I still don't know if he will ever see the show pen again but he's doing okay otherwise," he told the FEI.
1 - GOLD: USA 674.5 - Hollywoodstinseltown (Tim McQuay) 220.5, Mister Montana Nic (Craig Schmersal) 223.5, Gunners Special Nite 224.0, RC Fancy Step (Shawn Flarida) 227.0.
2 - SILVER: BELGIUM 659.0 - Gumpy Grumpy BB (Jan Boogaerts) 205.0, Whizdom Shines (Ann Poels) 219.5, Peek A Boom (Cira Baeck) 218.0, BA Reckless Chick (Bernard Fonck) 223.5.
3 - BRONZE: ITALY 655.5 - Smart and Shiney (Mrco Ricotta) 0, Yellow Jersey (Stefano Massignan) 224.0, Red Chic Peppy (Dario Carmignani) 216.5, Spat a Blue (Nicola Brunelli) 215.0.