Australia’s Boyd Exell, seeking a third consecutive driving title at the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) World Equestrian Games, maintained his challenge during the marathon test in Tryon despite the fact that his brakes were broken.
Koos De Ronde of The Netherlands was best on the day with his score of 117.28 points, lifting him from 14th to fourth in the overall standings, but it was Exell who earned the attention as he battled to cope after discovering early on in his test that his braking system was not working properly.
He managed to finish third with 121.93 points, behind Switzerland’s Jerome Voutaz, who recorded 121.66, and thus retained his overall lead with just the final day’s cones test to come.
After the dressage and marathon elements, Exell had a total of 153.61 points, with home competitor Chester Webber second on 160.61, Belgium’s Edouard Simonet third on 171.32 and De Ronde fourth with 174.21.
Reflecting on his technical challenged, Exell said: "It caused a problem in hazard one.
"We came in hot because there is a big long gallop into gate A and we drifted too wide and they [the horses] looked to the left rather than being able to square up the turn – that was a bit disappointing hazard one, gate A, first mistake!
"Hazards three, four and five are all up and down dips, so the reins were around my head one moment and then on the floor and then round my neck.
"But we fought.
"We didn’t give up – we kept fighting all the way."
Dutchman De Ronde’s magnificent drive saved what was otherwise a disastrous day for the men in orange.
Father and son, Ijsbrand and Bram Chardon both made significant, uncharacteristic errors dropping the Dutch, winner of the team competition in 2010 and 2014, down to third in the standings.
Team USA lead on 338.55 points, more than 15 points clear of Team Belgium.
In the vaulting finale, meanwhile, Team Germany, their individual female star Kristina Boe and Lambert Leclezio from France all took gold in the Christie’s International Real Estate arena.
Boe now holds the European, World Cup and World Championship titles.
Posting an unbeatable combined score of 8.388 points, she managed to halt the challenge launched by compatriot, Janika Derks.
"As a result of the new Nations Team Championships it is the first time that it is possible to win two medals for an individual," Boe said.
"To come away from Tryon with two gold medals makes me speechless and more than grateful."
Finishing on 8.374 points, Derks kept the pressure on Boe right to the end.
The bronze medal went Austria’s Lisa Wild.
The highest freestyle score of the day went to Germany’s Sarah Kay, who posted 8.880 points in the final test.
Her assault on the medals, however, came too late in the competition as she finished on a combined total of 8.308 to line up fourth.
Leclezio dominated the individual male category as his execution, artistic impression and utter control meant he was in a league of his own, riding Poivre Vert on what was the horse’s last international competition before retirement to a score of 8.744 points.
Germany continued their impressive form to secure both second and third places on the podium.
A second silver at these Games went to Jannik Heiland on Dark Beluga, on 8.606 points and fellow-countryman Thomas Brüsewitz scored 8.533 to claim bronze supported by Danny Boy.
With only 0.001 points separating overnight leaders Germany and Switzerland the squad championship was always destined to be tense and it was the Germans who rose to the occasion as they finished with 8.638 ahead of Switzerland and bronze medallist Austria.