Tag Archives: FEI Nations Cup

Dutch Win against All Odds at Fabulous Falsterbo

Photo: Maikel van der Vleuten and IDI Utopia. (FEI/Satu Pirinen)

Fierce battle in thrilling four-way jump-off against Ireland, Sweden, and Italy

It wasn’t all smooth sailing as the Dutch swept to victory in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Sweden at Falsterbo (SWE). Reduced to a three-man team following first-round drama for Michel Hendrix (31) and Baileys, and only making the cut into the jump-off after a successful appeal against four faults at the water for Maikel van der Vleuten (30) and IDI Utopia in round two, it might well have been too much to hope for that it would all come right in the end.

But when you combine great leadership with passion and pride, and you add in the quality of a partnership like Johnny Pals (36) and his super-stallion Chat Botte du Ruisseau Z who produced no less than three spectacular clears, and the final one the quickest of all, then you have all the ingredients for an epic afternoon of sport.

You don’t get days like this too often, and even the Irish who finished second, the Swedes who lined up in third and the fourth-placed Italians couldn’t argue with that. It was a Nations Cup classic, with just fractions of seconds deciding the result.

“Today was an absolute thriller!” — Rob Ehrens (Rob Ehrens, Chef d’Equipe, Team Netherlands)

It was the triple combination at fence five that led to the withdrawal of The Netherlands’ Hendrix when Baileys stopped and then tipped off his rider when they tackled it again. The Irish, hot favourites to win after a spectacular week of success at the Swedish fixture, held the lead on a zero score at the halfway stage while the Dutch, Swedes and Italians lay close behind with four faults apiece.

When Bertram Allen’s Gin Chin van Het Lindenhof put a foot in the water second time out and then Mark McAuley’s Utchan de Belheme left a pole on the floor the Irish advantage began to slip, however. But clears from Daniel Coyle (Cita) and Paul O’Shea (Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu) steadied the ship and they went into a four-way jump-off with Italy, Sweden, and eventually The Netherlands, all on a two-round four-fault tally.

First against the clock was Italy’s Luca Marziani, setting the target when clear in 42.71 seconds with Tokyo du Soleil, but the Swedish crowd went wild with delight when their hero, Henrik von Eckermann, steered Toveks Mary Lou through the timers more than a second faster in 41.52. As Johnny Pals set off you could hear a pin drop. “Rob said – you go for it – so I went for it!” said the Dutchman whose fabulous chestnut stallion jumped like a cat to put a time of 39.33 on the board. Last man in, Ireland’s Daniel Coyle, gave it his best shot with Cita who broke the beam in 40.47 seconds for runner-up spot. But it was the Men in Orange, and the 2017 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ champions, who would stand top of the Falsterbo presentation podium for the second year in a row.

The exceptional team spirit of the Dutch has delivered a stream of success for many years now. Maikel van der Vleuten reflected that when he looked back on the story of the day and how it all fell into place. “Michel was a bit unlucky in the first round; his horse just wasn’t feeling it today but that’s why we are a team and we were still strong enough to do the job!” And as Jur Vrieling (48), who produced an all-important anchorman double-clear with VDL Glasgow v. Merelsnest NOP, pointed out, supporting your team-mates is at the core of Nations Cup Jumping. “I’ve had it before where I’ve gone wrong and others have helped, so I was happy today to be able to do my job this time around!”

And as for Johnny Pals, he couldn’t help but be thrilled with the sensational performance of his 10-year-old stallion who never looked like putting a foot wrong all day.

“His breeding is Casall and Darco and he’s the horse of a lifetime!” — Johnny Pals (NED)

“He has so much scope and so careful! I have him two years and at the beginning he was a bit strong but he always had a great mentality,” he said of the horse who seems to have unbounded enthusiasm for his job.

And what now for the Dutch who have moved into sixth place on the Europe Division 1 leaderboard which is still headed by Belgium? “We have two more legs at Hickstead and Dublin left… we are going to try to beat the Belgians and win the League!” Rob Ehrens said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Back-to-Back Win for Brilliant Belgians Puts Them Top of Division 1

Photo: Pieter Devos and Espoir. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

Germany finishes second in classic contest at Rotterdam; hosts share third place with USA and Switzerland

On a day of doubles, Team Belgium posted a back-to-back win in Europe Division 1 when coming out on top in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of The Netherlands in Rotterdam. There were seven double-clears in the gripping competition over a really testing course set by Ireland’s Alan Wade. And the man who clinched it for the Belgian side, 22-year-old Jos Verlooy riding Igor, had already scooped the honours in Friday’s Longines Grand Prix with his other top horse Caracas.

However, perhaps the most important double of all was the fact that this was only the second time in the 70-year history of CSIO Rotterdam for a Belgian side to take the Nations Cup honours. Their only previous victory was back in 1950, and they did it in great style, under pressure in front of a packed stadium, and under the watchful eye of Dutch royal family member, and former Queen, Princess Beatrix, when posting a zero scoreline.

The Belgians are the form team right now, and they know it. “Our horses and riders are very strong this year – we are working towards the WEG (FEI World Equestrian Games) in September and I think we can produce a great result there!” said Verlooy. And his Chef d’Equipe Peter Weinberg was thinking even further down the line, to the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2018 Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October.

“I have a team of unbelievable fighters and we are high on the points table now so we are looking good for the final!” — Peter Weinberg (Chef d’Equipe Team Belgium)

Alan Wade will be course designer at the WEG and the world’s best are very happy to get experience over his tracks. As always it was built to maximum height and he tested riders more than horses, demanding straightness, balance, control and complete concentration from start to finish.

Belgium and Germany shared the lead on a zero score at the end of the first round, with Switzerland and USA close behind each carrying just four faults and the hosts and Great Britain next in line with eight apiece. Sweden couldn’t recover from a 15-fault first-round effort, but although the French completed with 16 they, like the British, showed evidence of the development of a very exciting string of newcomers.

Mistakes from Marcus Ehning (Comme Il Faut) and Markus Beerbaum (Cool Hand Luke) undermined German chances, but a double-clear from pathfinder Nicola Philippaerts (24) with H&M Chilli Willi got the Belgians off to a great start in the second round. Niels Bruynseels’ (34) lovely mare Cas de Liberte was one of several horses to misinterpret the triple bar at fence three in round one, and they went on to collect an uncharacteristic 13 faults. But second time out they were pure perfection, so when Verlooy also left the course fully intact it was game over and Belgium’s second win in a week following success in Sopot (POL) last Sunday. Pieter Devos (32) who had stepped in to rescue the situation with a brilliant first-round clear from Espoir didn’t have to jump again.

Verlooy was thrilled to have been the one to seal this historic success and was quick to thank his long-time trainer and current world no. 1 rider, Dutchman Harrie Smolders.  “Harrie told me: don’t think about the result; think about jumping every fence correctly and only look at the result when you are over the finish line – stay focused on what you are doing all the way!” Verlooy explained.

Belgium has now overtaken Switzerland on the Europe Division 1 leaderboard with Germany in third, France in fourth, Spain in fifth and Sweden in sixth place. Italy, Ireland, Great Britain and Netherlands are sitting at the bottom of the table but they all have three more chances to dramatically improve their positions at the remaining Europe Division 1 legs in Falsterbo (SWE) and Hickstead (GBR) next month and in Dublin (IRL) where the last qualifier will take place on 10 August.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Team Belgium Reigns Supreme in Hard-Fought Battle at Sopot

Photo: Niels Bruynseels and Cas de Liberte. (FEI/Lukasz Kowalski)

Frenchman Robert produces the only double-clear; Belgians now just 10 points behind Swiss at top of league table

Team Belgium won the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Poland, but it was no walk in the park. This fourth leg of the Western European League attracted teams from eight countries to the Hippodrome Arena in the popular seaside town of Sopot, and with six of those chasing down qualifying points for the Longines Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October it was always going to be a right royal battle.

Taking the early lead, Peter Weinberg’s side held on to reign supreme ahead of France in runner-up spot and the USA in third. Belgian anchorman, Niels Bruynseels (34), didn’t have to bring out his brilliant mare, Cas de Liberte, a second time but as he pointed out that wasn’t because it was an easy afternoon’s work.

“The course was tough – big and technical – and the time was quite tight, but we came here well prepared, with a strong team, strong riders and a good tactic, and everyone did a super job!” — Niels Bruynseels (Team Belgium)

Olaf Petersen Jr’s 12-fence course was certainly challenging. “The water (fence 5) was wide, there was a huge triple bar to a vertical (fences 9 and 10) and the last double (11) was very difficult,” Bruynseels pointed out. The distance to the big final water-tray oxer also caught out several of the big names in the first round, including French stalwart Kevin Staut (For Joy van’t Zorgvliet HDC) and American legend Margie Goldstein-Engle (Royce).

But it was Staut’s second-round clear that pulled his side back into the frame on a day when Mathieu Billot and Shiva d’Amaury, heroes of the French victory in St Gallen (SUI) two weeks ago, will want to forget. Olivier Robert didn’t have to jump in either round at the Swiss fixture because his team-mates were so impressive. But he helped France secure second spot with the only double-clear of the entire competition from his 14-year-old gelding Eros.

Foot-perfect runs from Olivier Philippaerts (24) and H&M Ikker and Jerome Guery (37) with Garfield de Tijl des Templiers meant that the four faults collected by Pieter Devos and Claire Z was the Belgian drop-score first time out and Bruynseels single time penalty was all they would carry into round two. Philippaerts double-faulted second time out, but Devos was clear and by the time Guery came home with just four on the board it was all over. Their 13-fault total could not be bettered.

Lying second on four faults at the halfway stage the Swedes disappeared from the reckoning, and a final tally of 16 moved the French into runner-up position while 21 faults secured third place for Team USA on a high-scoring afternoon.

The Belgians now head to Rotterdam in The Netherlands next Sunday (24 June) for the fifth round of the eight-leg Western European series lying just 10 points behind the league leaders from Switzerland and 20 points ahead of France, and with the tension increasing with every outing.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Irish on Song at Langley

Photo: Richie Moloney with Carrabis Z. (FEI/Cara Grimshaw)

Canada and USA clinch qualifying spots for Longines 2018 Final in Barcelona

Team Ireland posted a convincing victory in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Canada at Langley (CAN). In a five-country challenge they established their authority when holding the lead with just two faults on the scoreboard at the halfway stage, and then they wrapped it up in round two without having to call on anchorman Conor Swail for a second time.

Their final total of 12 faults didn’t truly reflect their supremacy which could have been even greater if Swail had returned to the ring. But they still finished six faults ahead of their Canadian hosts in runner-up spot while Team Mexico rallied brilliantly to line up third on 25 faults. USA had to settle for fourth when racking up a 34-fault total but that was still good enough to see them qualify, along with Canada, for the series Final in Barcelona (ESP) as the top two finishers in the North/Central America and Caribbean League qualifying series.

Brazil filled fifth and last place, but started with only a three-man side so had no drop-score, yet in keeping with the pattern of this fascinating competition the team showed a dramatic improvement second time out to finish on a total of 40.

When asked about the recipe for the Irish team’s recent successes, Chef d’Equipe Michael Blake said it is about putting a new strategy in place in order to expand the pool of horses and riders.

“Like a lot of countries, we had started to rely on the old guard too much. When I got the job, I decided the best thing we could do was develop as many riders as we could and give them Nations Cup experience. So last year 29 riders jumped on 20 different teams and we had 17 podium finishes out of 20. Obviously winning the European Championship was a big thing for us. This year, as of today, 25 riders have jumped on a Nations Cup team – we also had a win in Lisbon this weekend and for us to have two winning teams in the same weekend, that showed some depth!” — Michael Blake (Team Ireland Chef d’Equipe)

The Canadians always looked Barcelona-bound after winning the first two league qualifiers in Ocala (USA) and Coapexpan (MEX), but they couldn’t make it a hat-trick today when, despite a brilliant double-clear from pathfinders Tiffany Foster and Victor, they lost their second-line partnership. Keean White’s 13-year-old For Freedom Z took a severe dislike to the water-tray under the oxer at fence six and was eliminated. And water was a recurring theme all afternoon as the rain poured down on the Thunderbird show arena while American anchorman, Richard Spooner, gave a master-class in horsemanship at the open water obstacle. His 11-year-old Chatinus needed some serious encouragement just to splash through it first time out, but actually managed to clear it at his second attempt much to the delight of the crowd.

Daniel Coyle’s (23) uncharacteristic 13-fault result with Cita was Ireland’s only weak point in the first round. Richie Moloney (36) opened the competition with a foot-perfect run from the 15-year-old Carrabis Z, so when both former Irish armyman Brian Cournane with Dino and Swail with Rubens LS la Silla collected just a single time fault each then the team was well out in front going into round two. A second clear from Moloney meant that even adding the nine collected by Cournane and a single time fault from Coyle at his second attempt, the win was in the bag without Swail’s assistance.

Chef d’Equipe Blake said he was particularly pleased with today’s victory. “We targeted this event a year ago and put the team together early. All four riders managed to go one-time clear and Richie was brilliant – I’m so proud of him; he rode out of his skin. Daniel’s first round didn’t go to plan but he came back and did a great job, making a success out of potential disaster. That’s what Nations Cups are all about!” he said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Foot-perfect French on Fire at St Gallen

Photo: Nicolas Delmotte and Ilex VP. (FEI/Gustavo Lorenzo)

Second-placed Swiss move further ahead on leaderboard; Belgium takes third

There were great big smiles on French faces when Philippe Guerdat’s side won the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Switzerland at St Gallen (SUI). The French may be Olympic champions, but what made their victory all the sweeter is that there were no riders from Rio 2016 in the team that simply swamped the opposition when never putting a foot wrong all day in this third leg of the Europe Division 1 series.

And to make it all the more impressive, it took only three of their team-members to do it, fourth-line rider Olivier Robert (42) languishing on the sidelines as his compatriots ensured his services were not required in either round.

This was the 15th French win at the Swiss fixture since 1987, and the first time in 20 years for any country to win the Swiss Nations Cup with a zero score. The hosts lined up second with eight faults while Belgium finished third with 13. There were seven teams in contention and it was Germany who slotted into fourth (16 faults) ahead of Great Britain in fifth (17 faults), Spain in sixth (20 faults) and Brazil, winners at the previous leg in La Baule (FRA) two weeks ago, in seventh spot (21 faults).

Mathieu Billot (32) and the 12-year-old stallion Shiva D’Amaury led the French offensive while Nicolas Delmotte (39) and the 10-year-old gelding Ilex VP were third to go for the winning nation. But the biggest surprise of the day was the superb performance of Alexandra Francart (38) who was on a mission with her lovely nine-year-old stallion Volnay du Boisdeville. The lady who runs a relatively small 12-horse competition yard near the Belgian border, not far from Reims, was competing in her very first 5-Star Nations Cup and only her second 5-Star show. And she admitted that she got her chance only by pestering Chef d’Equipe Guerdat over the last few months.

“My horse is very talented and the first time we placed in a 3-Star Grand Prix I told Philippe – okay, we are ready; it’s time to give us a chance! Then I told him again a second time, and when I called him a third time he agreed!” — Alexandra Francart (Team France)

She took that chance in both hands when bringing her horse home twice without a hiccup to prove her point. The French were already in the lead after the first round followed by the Swiss carrying just four faults and the Belgians carrying nine. Riding the brilliant mare Bianca, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat was also double-clear, while the British were unlucky.

Their pathfinder, William Whitaker, produced two spectacular clears from Utamaro d’Ecaussines and Holly Smith followed suit with Hearts Destiny. But Samuel Hutton and Happydam racked up 17 first-round faults and these had to be counted when Louise Saywell’s Golden Wave was eliminated at the open water. Hutton was fault-free second time out and while it was too late to rescue them from a minor placing, the British effort suggests Di Lampard’s pool of team contenders is steadily growing.

The winners from France will next line out in round four of the eight-leg Europe Division 1 series in Sopot, Poland in two weeks’ time, where they will be hoping to add to their points tally on the league table which continues to be dominated by the Swiss.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Strzegom Horse Trials – FEI Eventing Nations Cup

Photo: LOTTO Strzegom Horse Trials.

The third round of Nations Cup series in Eventing will take place in less than a month’s time on hippodrome in Morawa near Strzegom during LOTTO Strzegom Horse Trials. After events in Italian Vairano and British Houghton Hall, the Swedish team is in the lead.

Nations Cup series in Eventing will consist of eight events this year. It has begun in Italy in April. Strzegom will host the next, third in a row round. In the middle of October, during the event in Boekelo in Holland, we will find out who is the winner of the whole series.

After last weekend competition in Houghton Hall, Sweden is leading, and France is second equally placed with last year winner, Germany, both followed by USA team.

“The sports competition in Strzegom surely will be exciting and it will also be a test of the new Olympic format,” says Marcin Konarski, Event Director.

Contact:
www.strzegomhorsetrials.pl
press@strzegomhorsetrials.pl

Brazilians Triumph over Europe’s Elite in Hard-Fought Battle at La Baule

Photo: Yuri Mansur and Vitiki. (FEI/Thomas Reiner)

It took nerves of steel for anchorman Pedro Veniss (35) to clinch the honours for Brazil at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of France in La Baule (FRA). In a contest that came right down to the very last ride of the afternoon he had absolutely no room for error if he was to give his country an historic first-ever win at the Francois Andre Stadium in the beautiful French seaside town, and pin Europe’s elite into the minor placings. But partnering the fabulous 14-year-old stallion, Quabri de l’Isle, he produced a super-cool clear that left the 2017 series champions from The Netherlands in runner-up spot and Switzerland into third.

Veniss admitted he was feeling the pressure when last into the arena, but he knew he could rely on his horse.

“Quabri is my very best friend; he has so much scope and always tries his best for me – that’s the greatest feeling in the world!” — Pedro Veniss (Team Brazil)

The pair has a spectacular track record, having been on the Brazilian sides that finished fifth at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy, fourth at the Pan-American Games in Toronto (CAN) in 2015 and fifth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Team spirit played a big part in Brazil’s success story, but, just like the Swiss who won the first Europe Division 1 leg in Slovakia three weeks ago, things weren’t looking altogether optimistic for them earlier in the week. Veniss’ first choice horse was unable to compete and then Felipe Amaral’s (27) ride came down with an allergy so he also had to change mounts.

But there’s a sense of rising momentum in the Brazilian camp, and Yuri Mansur’s (38) exciting 10-year-old, Vitiki, provided a major boost when clear in the first round in which both Veniss and Luiz Felipe de Azevedo Filho (43) riding Chaccomo collected just a single time fault to leave their country out in front at the halfway stage carrying just two faults. Amaral’s replacement ride, the inexperienced Germanico T, provided the drop score in both rounds.

Mansur’s Vitiki has literally come along in leaps and bounds over the last few months. “I bought him in October and he only jumped his first 1.30m track in November and now he has won the Nations Cup at La Baule – he’s developing so quickly!” said his delighted rider.

It was a super-close finish, Brazil posting a final tally of seven faults with the Dutch on eight and the Swiss on nine. The Netherlands had the satisfaction of collecting the maximum points of the six Europe Division 1 nations chasing points towards the 2018 Final. And their anchorman and new World No. 1, Harrie Smolders (Don VHP Z), took a one-third share of the €50,000 bonus on offer for double-clear rounds along with Spain’s Manuel Fernandez Saro (Cannavaro 9) and Germany’s Maurice Tebbel (Chaccos S).

Spain chased the leading pack all the way to finish fourth on 12 faults, Germany lined up fifth with 14, and Ireland slotted into sixth with 17 faults. It was a disappointing day for the French hosts who had to settle for seventh with 20 faults on the board, while Team Canada lined up eighth and last on a 35-fault total.

The result bodes well for the Brazilians who also finished an impressive second at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the United States of America at Ocala (USA) in February and who now have the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon (USA) clearly in their sights.

For the Europe Division 1 teams, however, their next port of call is St Gallen on Sunday 3 June, where the host nation of Switzerland will be hoping to further boost their lead on the league table with another good result. That’s going to be a busy day of top sport as the third and final qualifier of the North/Central America & Caribbean League also takes place in Langley (CAN).

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Swiss Sweep to Victory at Opening Leg of Europe Division 1 Series in Šamorín

Photo: Martin Fuchs and Chaplin (FEI/Łukasz Kowalski)

Irish finish second ahead of Belgians in third

Switzerland secured a definitive victory in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Slovakia in Šamorín. With seven nations chasing points at this first leg of the 2018 Europe Division 1 qualifying series, it was a hotly-contested affair, and the eventual winners already looked well poised for success when leading at the end of the first round on a zero scoreline.

However, the second tour of the track designed by Uliano Vezzani saw a big shake-up, with Italy dropping from runner-up spot to joint-fifth and replaced by the Irish, while Belgium finished third ahead of Brazil in fourth place. Sweden lined up joint-fifth while the German team collected a total of 24 faults for seventh place and Spain accumulated 38 faults to finish last of the eight competing countries.

The Swiss picked up nine faults in round two, but that was without the services of anchorman Steve Guerdat (35) who didn’t have to return to the arena with his mare, Hannah, because the result was already decided, the Irish finishing on 13, Belgium on 16 and Brazil on 18 faults apiece.

“I managed her really well in the first round, and then the team did so good they made it a nice Sunday afternoon for me!” — Steve Guerdat (Team Switzerland)

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Swiss Chef d’Equipe Anky Kistler, however, because he had to give Paul Estermann (54) a late call-up after selected team-member, Jannike Sprunger, had taken a fall. And Estermann’s 10-year-old stallion, Curtis Sitte, was competing in his very first Nations Cup. The pair collected the discard score of eight faults in round one and put five more on the board in round two, but when youngest team member Martin Fuchs (25) produced one of four double-clears on the day then just the single mistake by pathfinders Werner Muff (44) and Daimler at the influential vertical one fence from home had to be added for the final winning scoreline.

“We brought a really good team here and we were aiming for the win – we knew we could do it!” said Fuchs, whose 11-year-old stallion, Chaplin, was sensational. He was particularly delighted because the horse is just returning to top level after injury.

“He won the Grand Prix in Mexico and in Zurich and Doha but after the GCT in Miami he got hurt and this was his first big show back,” Fuchs explained. About the course, he said, “The back bars on the oxers were wide and square so there were quite a few faults, but for me it felt quite easy because Chaplin was jumping so well. He was fresh all the way to the last fence in the second round and this makes me very happy because I knew my planning was right – I gave him more time instead of going to some more indoor shows and today he was fit and just perfect!”

The Swiss now head into the second round of the eight-leg Europe Division 1 series in La Baule (FRA) in three weeks’ time at the top of the league table but only 10 points ahead of the Irish whose runner-up finish was bolstered by a brilliant double-clear from US-based Paul O’Shea riding Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu. The other double-clears came from Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts (Chilli Willi) and Brazil’s Luiz Francisco de Azevedo (Comic).

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

More Millar Magic Helps Clinch Second Canadian Success

Photo: Jonathon Millar with Daveau. (FEI/Anwar Esquivel)

Team Mexico rallies brilliantly, but Team USA takes runner-up spot

In a case of “like father, like son,” Jonathon Millar (43) helped seal victory for Team Canada with a foot-perfect performance at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Mexico in Coapexpan. His legendary father, Ian (71), produced a pivotal double-clear to put their country at the top of the leaderboard at the opening leg of the 2018 North/Central America and Caribbean League qualifying series two months ago, so Jonathon was following suit. And adding even more of a family flavour to the excitement, Jonathon’s wife, Kelly Soleau-Millar, made her Nations Cup debut on the American side that lined up second ahead of Mexico in third.

It seems Millar has team spirit coursing through his veins due to the influence of his dad.

“I was brought up on Nations Cups and Championships being such a big part of his success, and it has rubbed off on me, knowing that being there for the team is more important than winning the Grand Prix – so when it all comes together like it did today then it’s a really great thing!” — Jonathon Millar (Team Canada)

The Canadian foursome that also included Laura Jane Tidball (40), Jenn Serek (35) and Keean White (35) already led the way after the first round of the three-nation contest, but their eight-fault total only gave them a single-fault advantage over the USA carrying nine, while Mexico’s 21-fault first-round effort put paid to their chances. However, in a brilliant second-round rally, Patricio Pasquel (Babel), Luis Alejandro Plascencia (Davinci) and Jose Antonio Chedraui Eguia (Ninloubet) did themselves proud with faultless runs to ensure they added nothing more to the host nation tally.

When impressive American pathfinder Alex Granato produced his second clear of the competition with the bouncy bay gelding Carlchen W, that kept the pressure on the Canadian leaders. But single errors from both Soleau-Millar (Cacharel) and Ali Wolff (Casall), and two mistakes from Jennifer Gates (Pumped Up Kicks), moved the US on to a final total of 17 faults. And this meant that although Tidball (Concetto Son) and Serek (Wicked) each left a single fence on the floor second time out, anchorman White (For Freedom Z) could stay in the clubhouse because even without his help Team Canada would finish with just 16 on the final scoreboard.

Millar was delighted with his 10-year-old gelding Daveau. “He didn’t do the Nations Cup in Ocala because it came too early in the season, but it’s been a really fun process working with him so far and now he’s coming into his own. He gives a thousand percent in the ring, he’s a real fighter and a dream to ride – I couldn’t be more proud of him!” he said. And he was proud and happy for his American wife too. “This was her first Nations Cup, and it was exciting and rewarding that we could do this together today, even on two different teams!”

His Chef d’Equipe, Mark Laskin, is already looking forward to the third and final leg of the North/Central America and Caribbean League, which will take place on home turf in Langley next month, and he was very pleased with the team effort. “We had a great group; they all contributed to our score and to our victory,” he said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

All-Female American Team Seals Victory in Historic Nations Cup Contest at AGDF

Adrienne Lyle and Salvino. Photo © SusanJStickle.com.

Wellington, FL — March 29, 2018 — The all-female American team dominated the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center FEI Nations Cup™ CDIO3* team competition in the 12th and final week of the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida.

In the first leg of the 2018 FEI Nations Cup series, the USA romped home with gold, while last year’s winners, Canada, clinched silver and Australia took a historic bronze — the first time the nation has ever won a dressage Nations Cup medal of any color. Spain finished fourth.

Unlike some other stages of this worldwide seven-leg Nations Cup series, teams at AGDF can be made up of big tour, small tour, or a mixture of big and small tour combinations. In order to level the playing field, 1.5% is added to each grand prix score, with the small tour results remaining unaltered. Teams consist of three or four riders, with the best three scores from day one and the best three from day two determining the final results.

Adrienne Lyle and Salvino posted personal best scores in both the grand prix and the special tests, culminating in 76.894% (78.394% after adjustment) in the special, a huge new best for the pair. A team from the USA has won six of the seven Nations Cup contests held at AGDF.

“This is an incredible event to be part of,” said Lyle, who was riding Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Juliano’s superb 11-year-old Sandro Hit stallion, Salvino. “I’m so proud of my boy, putting two really solid, clean, powerful tests in for our team. He was a little tired today, but came out fighting — and that’s what you want.”

Her performances were supported by Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (Lonoir), impressive newcomer Sabine Schut-Kery (Sanceo), and Ashley Holzer (Havanna 145).

Schut-Kery logged two plus-72% performances on Alice Womble’s 12-year-old San Remo stallion Sanceo, despite only performing their first CDI grand prix test in January of this year.

“I could not be happier with my horse in our first season of grand prix,” said the German-born rider who is now based in California. “It was really good practice to ride in another climate and see what your horse gives you. I’m super happy and look forward to the future.”

LaGoy-Weltz added more power to both her performances with Lonoir, and as a result ended up with a couple of small mistakes.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” she said. “There were still some bobbles, but when you go for more powerful, it can cause other things to happen. Then again, taking risks is how you make progress.”

Despite two solid performances on Diane Fellows’ inexperienced mare Havanna 145, Ashley Holzer was the drop score. An error of course meant a costly 2% deducted from her grand prix special score, and prompted a teasing text from Fellows to Holzer that read: “Which test did you prefer — yours of the FEI’s? Don’t worry; it’s about the big picture.”

Holzer added: “Nobody will beat me up about that mistake more than myself. My mare was a little green this week, but luckily my team-mates said, ‘Don’t worry, we’re all human’. They’re amazing girls and I’m very honored that everyone in the States has been so welcoming [since switching nationalities from Canadian].”

American Nations Cup team chef d’equipe, Robert Dover, added: “Since the inception of the AGDF, this show has been a dream come true. I’ve watched the state of both American dressage — and all the countries that are here — rise up because of this amazing venue and the shows put on here. It’s fantastic what it’s done for the sport.”

Of his team, he added: “I’m so proud of these amazing women who are not only rising to the occasion, but they are changing the game for American dressage as we go towards the [World Equestrian] Games. Of course, that wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for incredible people like [trainer] Debbie McDonald and [owner] Betsy Juliano, to whom we owe so much — and so many more people.”

Spearheading the Canadian charge with a new best in the grand prix special test of 71.304% (72.649% after adjustment) was Brittany Fraser and her 13-year-old powerhouse by Tango, All In, who has blossomed during AGDF 2018.

“I had a personal best today,” she said. “We still had a mistake in the ones — but I’ll fix that tomorrow in the freestyle! I was proud of All In today; he was tired, but he tried.”

Fraser’s team-mate Megan Lane had double cause for celebration. Not only did she help Canada to team silver riding Caravella, but she also won the Grand Prix CDI3*, presented by Grand Prix Services (for special) on Zodiac MW. The Canadian team was rounded out by Jill Irving (Degas 12) and Diane Creech (Chrevis Christo).

The bronze-medal winners, Australia, were delighted with their historic result. Small tour rider Kelly Layne (Furst Amante) said: “Australia is a very, very long way from here and to put a team together is not so easy. This AGDF competition series is something we could never even imagine; it’s brought us here and, over the years, helped improve our performances. I’m so happy we could do it this year — and put ourselves in a bronze medal position. My horse is really green, but really fancy. He was with me the whole ride and the little mistakes were completely mine.”

Individual medals were awarded in the under-25 Grand Prix CDIO, presented by Diamante Farms, with Spain’s prodigious talent, Juan Manuel Guimon, taking the gold. He rode his father Juan F Matute’s 15-year-old Don Diego Ymas to 71.669%.

“His performance today was quite good, apart from a mistake in the twos,” said the self-confessed perfectionist. “Once again, his overall attitude was quite competitive and fresh. We were indoors today, which I think helped. He’s a dark horse so he doesn’t have so much stamina; I think being indoors really benefited him.”

The 20-year-old flies to Europe at the end of April for the Segovia CDI before heading to the Spanish national championships in a bid for a place on his nation’s team for the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina, in September. Failing that, his goal will be the under-25 FEI European Championships.

Molly Paris improved on her score from the inter II to scoop silver for the USA. She rode her own 16-year-old mare Countess to 68.508%, edging out Spain’s Rodrigo Encinas Fuentes on Van The Man (67.778%).

“I enjoyed that test more than in I-2,” said Paris. “Countess has strong passage and piaffe and I really like to showcase it. She’s not the easiest, but once you get her going, she’s brilliant.”

Encinas Fuentes said: “Van The Man has been the horse that’s taught me how to ride a grand prix and compete at a high level. He’s a very competitive horse; every time he goes in the ring he proves it and wants to give everything.”

The USA’s Sarah Daehnert rode just one CDI test this week, but she capitalized on it, winning the Prix St Georges CDI1* on her own and Robert Price’s nine-year-old Vivaldi x Jazz gelding, Evander 3. Their 70.784% marked a giant improvement from their one and only other showing, a month ago, where they scored 65.8%.

For more information and results, visit www.globaldressagefestival.com.