Pietro Sandei and Rubis du Prere at the 2021 European Championships. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Somehow, inexplicably, we’re at that time of year again already: it’s team announcement season, and getting the ball rolling for this year’s World Championships in Pratoni del Vivaro (September 14–18) is the home side, who have released their first squad shortlist. This initial shortlist is particularly short, but is set to expand; by the end of June, the Italian selection committee will add two more pairs to complete the list, from which they’ll ultimately select five combinations plus two reserves on the 15th of August.

The six shortlisted horses and riders, all of whom ride for various divisions of the Italian Armed Forces, are as follows:

  • Susanne Bordone and Imperial Van de Holtakkers – 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Quidam de Revel x Ava van de Holtakkers, by Argentinus). Owned by Maria Giovanna Mazzocchi
  • Marco Cappai and Uter – 13-year-old Italian Sport Horse gelding (Caster di Villa Francesca x Elle d’Aulix, by Iubumbashi). Owned by Cascianese Country Club
  • Emiliano Portale and Aracne dell’Esercito Italiano – 10-year-old Italian Sport Horse stallion (AS Lucsan x Aliree, by Hunting Hawk). Owned by the Italian Army
  • Pietro Sandei and Rubis de Prere – 17-year-old Selle Français gelding (Fedor de Seves x Cina du Logis, by Quandy du Mayne). Owned by Az. Agr. Galanthus di Castellani S.
  • Arianna Schivo and Quefira de l’Ormeau – 18-year-old Selle Français mare (Iolisco de Quinhon*HN x Isabelle du Brulot, by Beausejour IV). Owned by Thomas Bouquet and the rider
  • Giovanni Ugolotti and Duke of Champions – 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Duke of Hearts x Nebraska 22, by Noble Champion). Owned by Philip Hunt, Jo Preston-Hunt, and Joyce Snook

Susanna Bordonne (ITA) and Imperial Van De Holtakkers. Photo by Sally Spickard.

The list features an exciting mix of experienced team talent and up-and-coming young horses: Susanna Bordone and Imperial van de Holtakkers, who won the Italian National Championship and Italian Armed Forces National Championship titles at the recent Pratoni test event, were part of Italy’s Tokyo Olympics team, finishing eighteenth as individuals. The gelding has also competed in a previous World Equestrian Games in 2018, though not with Susanna — he was piloted there by Joris Vanspringel of Belgium, finishing 58th. With other horses, Susanna has two further Olympic appearances, four WEGs, and seven Senior European Championships — including two in pure dressage — under her belt. Pietro Sandei and his stalwart Rubis de Prere represented Italy at the 2018 WEG, finishing 52nd, and at the European Championships in 2017, where they scored a top twenty individual result and team bronze, and 2021. Arianna Schivo and Quefiro de l’Ormeau, who we last saw at Badminton last month, rode on the team at the Tokyo and Rio Olympics, the 2018 WEG, and at the 2015, 2017, and 2019 European Championships. Marco Cappai and Uter were part of the Italian front at last year’s European Championships in Avenches, and Marco has previously had the call-up for Italy at the 1996 Olympics, 2010 WEG, and 2011 European Championships.

Italy’s Emiliano Portale and Aracne dell’Esercito Italiano. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

British-based Giovanni Ugolotti has a relatively new ride shortlisted in Duke of Champions, who joined his string in the latter part of last season, but together they’ve already notched up some exciting results, including fourth in a CCI4*-L at Ballindenisk and 21st in a hugely competitive CCI4*-S at Thoresby. If selected, this would be a second World Championships appearance for Gio, who finished just outside the top twenty at the 2014 WEG and has also ridden in three European Championships for Italy. Both Emiliano Portale and his exciting ten-year-old Aracne dell’Esercito Italiano, who was one of our horses of the week at the Pratoni test event last month, will be chasing their first appearance on the world stage: Emiliano has two Senior European Championships under his belt and represented Italy multiple times as a Young Rider, but hasn’t yet ridden at a World Championships or Olympic Games.

The final deadline for nominated entries – effectively, the shortlist – and certificates of capability, which prove that nominated combinations have the required qualifications, is August 15, while the final deadline for definite entries will be September 5. Each National Federation will be allowed to select and enter up to five horses and riders — that’s a team of four, plus an individual. Keep it locked onto EN for all the shortlist and selection updates as they’re released. Go Eventing!