Just over a year ago Peder Fredricson, Harrie Smolders and Cian O’Connor stood on the podium together after the individual final at the European Championships in Gothenburg.
Tomorrow they will renew rivalry with all three among the twenty-five riders who have made it to the individual final at the World Equestrian Games being staged at Tryon International Equestrian Center in North Carolina.
Just as in Gothenburg, O’Connor will partner Good Luck with Smolders on Don VHP Z, while this time around Fredricson rides H&M Christian K.
O’Connor took bronze at the Europeans where Fredricson claimed gold (on H&M All In) and Smolders pocketed silver.
Fredricson is in fact going for a championship individual three-in-a-row having taken silver at Rio 2016, also on H&M All In.
O’Connor has an edge on his two Euro rivals, going into the final in sixth place on 6.69 penalties, while Smolders is 14th on 8.89 and Fredricson is 18th with 10.16.
Ireland’s sole medal hope blamed himself for the one error in Friday’s team final without which he would have been going into the individual final in the silver medal position.
Germany’s Simone Blum, already with a team bronze secured, leads with 2.47 penalties on DSP Alice. “I’m so proud that I am qualified for Sunday,” she said after the team event. “I think that’s a huge success and I need to stay focused now. We need two more really good rounds and then we will see.”
Austria’s Max Kühner (Chardonnay) and Swiss rider Martin Fuchs (Clooney) occupy the respective silver and bronze positions.
All horses passed Saturday’s inspection but Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann withdrew Toveks Mary Lou, which allowed Colombia’s Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo into the contest with Admara.
Sunday’s final gets underway at 2.45pm Irish time, and after the first round only the top twelve in the standings will progress to the final round which starts at 5.35pm.