Ocala, Fla. – The U.S. Show Jumping Team returns to action this week, taking on six countries in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ USA on Sunday, February 18 at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Fla. U.S. Show Jumping Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland will lead the team of Lauren Hough and Ohlala, Laura Kraut and Confu, Beezie Madden and Darry Lou, and McLain Ward and HH Callas as they compete for a strong start in the North American standings. The U.S. Show Jumping Team will compete second in the order. Devin Ryan and Eddie Blue will serve as the reserve combination.
The U.S. Show Jumping team placed second in the 2017 FEI Nations Cup CSIO4* Ocala.
Hough and Ohlala had a strong start to the 2018 competition year, finishing in the top 10 in the FEI NetJets Grand Prix CSI4* at the Winter Equestrian Festival on Saturday.
Kraut and Confu placed second in the $220,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Wellington presented by Sovaro® at the Palm Beach Masters earlier this month.
Madden and Darry Lou last competed at the CP National Horse Show in Lexington, Ky., placing third in the $130,000 CP Grand Prix International Open Jumpers CSI4*.
Ward and HH Callas earned fifth-place finishes at the Palm Beach Masters in the $220,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Wellington presented by Sovaro® and $35,000 Sovaro Palm Beach Masters Qualifier CSI3*.
Hough: Member of the silver-medal winning 2017 Longines FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final team, 2017 member of the first all-women’s FEI Nations Cup CSIO5* Dublin gold-medal winning team and recipient of the Aga Kahn Trophy, team and individual bronze medalist at the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games, and member of the 2000 Sydney Olympics U.S. Show Jumping Team
Kraut: Member of the silver-medal winning 2017 Longines FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final team, 2017 member of the first all-women’s FEI Nations Cup CSIO5* Dublin gold-medal winning team and recipient of the Aga Kahn Trophy, 2017 recipient of the “Prize of the Federal Minister of the Interior” award at CHIO Aachen, and two-time Olympian, including a team gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games
Madden: Member of the silver-medal winning 2017 Longines FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final team, 2017 member of the first all-women’s FEI Nations Cup CSIO5* Dublin gold-medal winning team and recipient of the Aga Kahn Trophy, four-time Olympian, including team gold medals at the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Games, and a team silver medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games
Ward: Member of the silver-medal winning 2017 Longines FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final team, first place at the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final, four-time Olympian, including team gold medals at the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Games, and a team silver medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games
Competition begins Sunday, February 18, at 1 p.m. EST at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Fla. The event will be streamed live on FEI TV.
Laura Kraut, Lillie Keenan, Lauren Hough and Beezie Madden with Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland (FEI/Christophe Taniere)
Team USA secured a definitive victory in the eighth and last leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2017 Europe Division 1 League in Dublin (IRL) when producing the only zero score in a hard-fought competition. On level pegging with the Irish at the halfway stage they stood firm while their hosts lost their grip to drop to fifth behind Spain.
In the closing stages the Netherlands and France threw down a challenge, and American anchor Laura Kraut (51) was under pressure when last to go with Confu. But the double-Olympian didn’t crumble, posting the second US double-clear of the competition to seal it ahead of the runners-up from France, while the Dutch slotted into third place.
This was the first all-female team triumph in the 91-year history of Nations Cup Jumping for the world-famous Aga Khan Cup in Dublin.
“We said at the beginning of the year this was one of the shows we are bringing our ‘A’ team to… it’s our view that the Aga Khan is the greatest trophy in our sport. And more than that there are many ways to win a Nations Cup; sometimes you get lucky, but today in my view there was no luck. These four riders did an unbelievable job!” — Robert Ridland (Chef d’Equipe Team USA)
The time-allowed of 80 seconds proved difficult for many over Irish course-builder Tom Holden’s track, and a speedy turn to the final oxer was often costly. Beezie Madden’s (53) mistake here with her new ride Darry Lou was the American drop score in round one, but the pair got it absolutely right in round two after pathfinders Lauren Hough (40) and the brilliant mare Ohlala produced their second clear of the day and rising talent Lillie Keenan (20) made her only mistake at the first element of the penultimate double with Super Sox.
Kraut clinched it with a crisp, clear run to leave a five-fault margin between the winning US side and the French in second while the points earned by the third-placed Dutch, whose final tally was just seven faults, saw them overtake Italy at the top of the Europe Division 1 leaderboard at the end of the eight-leg series.
Beezie Madden – Team USA (winners), talking about her horse Darry Lou: “He’s a new horse. He came from Mexico and the highest he jumped there was 1.55m or so. I got him in May and this was only his third 1.60m course today. It was my mistake in the first round. He’s like a Cadillac to ride!”
Laura Kraut – Team USA, talking about the similarities between her winning ride, Confu, and her legendary 2008 Olympic team gold medal winning horse Cedric, who is now retired: “Oddly enough I found out when we were in Aachen that they share the same grandmother or something. I had no idea that they were remotely related so that’s very exciting. He (Confu) is as much of a cheeky monkey as Cedric, so for me he’s wonderful. I love him, he’s a trier, he’s a pet and he’s fun to ride and be around. But Cedric can’t be replaced.”
Ocala, FL (March 27, 2017): Spectators filed into the grandstand at HITS Post Time Farm to witness a world-class line-up of national and international riders battle for the blue in the fourth annual Great American $1 Million Grand Prix, sponsored by Great American Insurance Group. Just one week after the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix in Thermal, California, the richest prize purse in show jumping returned to the Horse Capital of the World in Ocala, Florida.
With a bustling grandstand, thousands watching from a live webcast on HITS TV, two sold out VIP tents, and the grass berm surrounding the stadium filled to capacity, it was a day packed with family-friendly fun and world-class show jumping competition.
The final lineup was stacked with previous HITS $1 Million Grand Prix winners, but the team to beat was USA equestrian Lauren Hough and Ohlala, owned by The Ohlala Group. Hough returned to HITS Ocala after competing for Team USA at the FEI Nations Cup™ earlier in February. Hough also placed fourth in the Great American Million in 2015 and 2016. They topped the leaderboard, and 49 other show jumping stars, to take home the day’s top honor by less than a one-second margin over second place finisher Aaron Vale and Finou 4, owned by Thinkslikeahorse and Don Stewart.
“I was lucky enough to come back to Ocala after the Nations Cup, and I was so impressed with how the footing was,” said Hough. “My horse is happier here, and so I really made coming back a priority in my schedule.”
Coming back to HITS Ocala certainly paid off for the decorated equestrian of Wellington, Florida. Hough’s round held up over the 14-horse jump-off, going seventh in the order, right in the middle of the pack. Vale was not far behind, finishing less than one-second behind Hough for second place.
“Everything I did with my horse this winter was aimed at this class,” said Vale. “This second place finish is worth more money than any win I’ve ever had, so I’d say it was a pretty good day!”
Third place went to Germany’s Andre Thieme, winner of the inaugural 2014 edition of the Great American Million.
“This Million dollar class is a very good thing that HITS does for our sport,” said Thieme. Thieme also won the 2011 Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix.
Thieme rode Conthendrix to the third-place prize in just one second behind Vale for the yellow ribbon and his slice of the million dollar pie.
Forty-nine riders, including World Cup champions, Olympic Gold Medalists and Grand Prix stars tested a course of 17 fences set at up to 1.60 meters. The meticulously decorated course, designed by Werner Deeg of Germany would yield 14 clear rounds ensuring a competitive jump-off.
“Here in Ocala we have the best footing, and it’s amazing how well the horses jump here,” said Deeg. “We had some top riders here, like the ones sitting next to me [at the press conference]. We also had some less-experienced riders at this level, so I built this course being aware of everybody.”
First of the top five to challenge the shortened course was Great Britain equestrian, Ben Maher, piloting Don Vito, owned by Poden Farms. They set down a fault-free trip in 50.874, which would ultimately slide them into fourth place.
American rider, McLain Ward, was next to try his luck in the jump-off riding HH Callus, owned by Double H Farm. Ward, a two-time HITS Million Grand Prix winner, competed alongside Hough in the FEI Nations Cup™ Ocala earlier this season, and both were a part of the winning Team USA at Nations Cup Ocala last year.
Ward steered his mount through the course with precision and skill. To the sound of cheers from the crowd, they crossed the timers clear in 51.379, eventually settling them in the final spot of the top five for the fifth-place prize.
Hough and Ohlala followed Ward. They took to the course at an all-out gallop, zipping through the turns. The excitement from the crowd grew throughout the round and cheers erupted as they crossed the timers in a blazing fast 48.966, setting the Great American Time to Beat and topping the rankings, where they would remain for the eventual win, an impressive feat going in the middle of the order of 14 challengers.
“I was not feeling very confident in actually winning the class, because there were seven more behind me [in the jump-off],” said Hough in the post-victory press conference. “I rode the fastest round that I could with [Ohlala], and tried to keep the pressure on the ones to follow – and of course, you always hope to have a bit of luck on your side at events like this. I had all of the above.”
Andre Thieme was next of the top five to complete his jump-off round. He and Conthendrix valiantly fought for speed towards the finish. As they crossed the timers in a cool, clear 50.086, they stepped up the leaderboard over Ward, but were not quite quick enough to overtake Hough.
“I watched Lauren’s round at the gate, and I knew her horse was very fast, and my horse is not so quick across the ground,” said Thieme. “He’s an amazing horse and partner, but I know him well enough that if the jump-off starts to get really quick, I will probably not win it. So with that in mind, I did everything that I could and am very happy with this result.”
When hometown hero, Aaron Vale, stepped into the ring with Finou 4, he had his eyes on the prize. He laid down a speedy ride through the jump-off course, galloping at every opportunity to shave time off the clock. The talented pair crossed the timers clean, but they were unable to catch Hough’s time as they finished in 49.442, good enough for the coveted, second-place payout.
“Following Lauren, I got to watch the first seven go, so I had an idea of what my horse could do,” said Vale of his jump-off round. “I was hoping to get one less stride from the first fence to the second, which I did, and I almost got exactly what I wanted the whole way, aside from one extra stride in the middle. I felt like I made up for it in the turn to the last line, and leaving out a stride to the last jump. I got the best round that I think I could have, it just wasn’t quite good enough today.”
Several big contenders followed in the jump-off including Todd Minikus, winner of the 2014 Saugerties Million riding Valinski S, owned by Michael Dorman and Wyndmont, Inc. Although he had the fastest time in the jump-off, 46.660, a rail and four faults earned him in sixth.
Last to go in the jump-off was last weekend’s AIG $1 Million Grand Prix winner, Mandy Porter and Milano, owned by Abigail Weese. As she started the course, it looked like she might be the first back-to-back Million Grand Prix winner, and she carried a clean round all the way to the last fence getting the crowd to their feet to cheer. The stadium let out a collective sigh as the last rail came down for four faults, giving Porter the purple ribbon for seventh.
It was unanimous amongst the top finishers that the prize purses offered by HITS are remarkable and HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri gave full credit to the event’s title sponsor.
“We’re fortunate to have one of the best sponsors in the world, Great American [Insurance Group], and lucky to have them again for the fourth consecutive year,” said Struzzieri. “The fact that we can host two $1 Million classes back to back, for several years in a row, speaks volumes as to what HITS does, and that caliber of competition will certainly carry into the future.”
As ten weeks of show jumping competition at HITS Ocala came to a close with a $1 Million Grand Prix to remember, riders are already looking ahead to the HITS Championship in Saugerties, New York later this year. Boasting the richest weekend in show jumping and with the Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix returning as an FEI CSI-5* class, riders from around the globe await another opportunity for their chance at international bragging rights and the quintessential prize purse.
Washington, D.C., (USA), 30 October 2016 – A mix of veteran riders and up-and-coming talent advanced to the final round in the third leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016/2017 North American League Eastern Sub-League. With the advantage of riding at the end of the order, Lauren Hough (USA) delivered the fastest, double clear performance aboard 12-year-old mare Ohlala to claim the victory.
In the heart of the country’s capital city, at the Verizon Center, the area’s main sports and entertainment arena, a starting field of 28 competed over a track designed by Alan Wade (IRL). A technical course in the small, indoor space prompted competitors to note throughout the night that the jumps came up quickly and multiple questions were asked over the 12 obstacles, which included three double combinations.
Notable surprises in the first round included refusals from top, proven pairs: McLain Ward (USA) and HH Carlos Z and Todd Minikus (USA) and Quality Girl. Both riders retired and did not complete the class.
Seven horse-and-rider pairs went on to record clear first rounds. The initial competitor to ride clear, 22-year-old Catherine Tyree (USA), is part of a rising talent pool of North American riders. But the class would eventually go to the seasoned professionals, with all top four riders having Olympic experience and ranked within the top 50 in the Longines World Rankings.
In the final round, that featured four, consecutive rollback turns, bookended by long, galloping lines, Laura Kraut (USA), aboard Confu, set the score to beat midway through the order with a fast, clear performance. The next two riders, Beezie Madden (USA) on Quister and Kent Farrington (USA) on Creedance, both recorded faster times, albeit with a rail each. Last to ride, Hough showcased her four-year partnership with Ohlala to add strides to two lines – but combined with tighter turns, she managed to steal the victory from Kraut.
“I had the advantage of going last and seeing what Kent’s time was and Laura’s time was, and I decided to play it on the safe side and put in extra strides,” Hough said. “But my horse is naturally fast and she can cut turns short. She’s been in great form all week. I did take a bit of a risk with the turns because Laura’s not a slow rider. I had to ride a smart round.”
The class was Ohlala’s first indoor competition of the season, although Hough herself had competed in one prior indoor competition in advance of the Washington International Horse Show. The veteran mare will next show at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in an effort to accrue more points toward qualifying for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final.
“She’s always been a great horse – a competitor and a winner,” Hough added. “As you grow with the horse, you change some things here and there, and I changed her bridle in the last year and have really concentrated on her rideability on the flat. The jumping comes natural to her – so I’m just tweaking little things here and there. She’s very adaptable to all types of venue. I would say, in the last couple years, her rideability indoors has improved quite a bit.”
Following this event, Kent Farrington currently holds the top position in the Eastern Sub-League standings, tied with Audrey Coulter (USA) in total number of points, heading into the next event at the National Horse Show in Lexington, Kentucky on November 5.
Lauren Hough and Ohlala. Photos by Shawn McMillen Photography.
Laura Kraut and Andretti S Victorious in $35,000 Accumulator Costume Class; Isabel Ryan and Eve Jobs Win Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Speed Rounds
Washington, D.C. – The 2016 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) hosted its third day of equestrian competition at Verizon Center in downtown Washington, D.C. on Thursday. USA’s Lauren Hough and Ohlala were the winners in the $35,000 International Jumper Welcome Stake, presented by CMJ Sporthorse LLC. Another win for the USA went to Laura Kraut riding Andretti S in the $35,000 International Jumper Accumulator Costume Class, presented by the Gochman Family.
The Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers also competed on Thursday with a win for Eve Jobs and Sandor de la Pomme in the $5,000 High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class, sponsored by Staysail Farm, and a one-two finish for Isabel Ryan with Levistano 2 and Abilitydance in the $2,500 Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class, sponsored by The Strauss Family.
In Thursday’s $35,000 International Jumper Welcome Stake, presented by CMJ Sporthorse LLC, course designer Alan Wade (IRL) set for 29 entries with seven clear rounds over his first round track. Callan Solem (USA) and Horseshoe Trail Farm LLC’s VDL Wizard chose not to return for the jump-off and finished in seventh place. David Will (GER) and Centin Güngor’s Cento du Rouet were first to go over the short course, finishing fifth with four faults in 34.67 seconds. Alison Robitaille (USA) and Bertram and Diana Firestone’s Ace were next to go, jumping a double clear round in 38.00 seconds to eventually finish third. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and his own and the Blue Buckle Group’s Cobolt dropped two rails in 36.94 seconds to end in sixth place. Next to go, Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) and David Gochman’s Lady Maria BH were double clear in 37.92 seconds to take a brief lead. Laura Kraut (USA) jumped into fourth place with her time of 38.54 seconds riding St. Bride’s Farm’s Confu. Last to go, Lauren Hough (USA) and The Ohlala Group’s Ohlala clocked the winning round in 35.27 seconds.
Hough first partnered with Ohlala, a 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare (Orlando x Cardento), five years ago and last competed at WIHS in 2012 when the pair won the $32,000 International Open Jumper faults converted class. At that time, Hough had been riding Ohlala for just one year and was stepping the mare up to the grand prix level with high hopes. Ohlala has since lived up to great expectations and won major classes all over the world.
Explaining her decision to return to WIHS after a three-year hiatus, Hough said, “I am really trying to concentrate on the World Cup qualifiers. I would like to go to the World Cup Finals with her this year, and so I decided to do a tour here. I did Tryon last week. I will go back to Europe to go to Doha next week and then carry on to Toronto.”
“She is wonderful. She loves to win,” Hough said of Ohlala. “I think her favorite part was the prize giving today. Indoors obviously suits her, being a small horse. I felt in the jump-off I did what I needed to do without taking too much risk, and still keeping Saturday night in the back of my mind and having a good prep for that. I feel like I have left enough in the tank to try to win again on Saturday as well.”
The pair will compete in Saturday night’s $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Washington, presented by Events DC, so Hough did not want to take too much risk in the jump-off.
“She is naturally very quick, so I just rode my round and kept the turns a little bit short,” Hough detailed. “I made quite a short turn into the double and she did that great. Then I still took my time to the last. I didn’t leave out, but just her natural rhythm and the pace she carries over the ground made my job very easy.”
Hough added, “We bought her the end of her seven-year-old year and she has won her whole life. She jumps at a very high level, and I have been concentrating a lot on Nations’ Cups, so it is nice to let her go enjoy it a little bit and be able to go fast.”
Hough is based part of the year in the United States and part of the year in Europe. Being back at WIHS after several years, she has enjoyed the competition.
“I love America, and I love riding here. I am very lucky to have the opportunity to compete all over the world and be based in both places, but it is always really special to be back in America in front of a home crowd,” Hough acknowledged. “This is a great horse show. In the nighttime they get great crowds, and to be in the middle of D.C. is something special. I know they try really hard, and I like to support good American shows.
Laura Kraut Wins $35,0000 Accumulator Costume Class
The $35,000 International Jumper Accumulator Costume Class, presented by the Gochman Family, was held on Thursday evening during the show’s always-popular Barn Night, presented by Dover Saddlery with the generous support of The Peterson Family Foundation and National Harbor. Local young riders and horse enthusiasts attended in groups and had the chance to enter contests, win big prizes, and enjoy a fun, horse-filled evening that included the WIHS Shetland Pony Steeplechase Championship Races, presented by Charles Owen, and internet sensations Dally & Spanky.
For the win, Kraut and her mount, Stars and Stripes’ Andretti S, cleared the course and the high side of the joker fence for a 65-point total in the fastest time of 44.47 seconds. Kraut was awarded the Crown Royal Trophy, donated by Crown Royal, as the winning rider, and Andretti S earned the Sue Ann Geisler Memorial Trophy, donated by the Washington International Horse Show, as the winning horse.
Dressed as Little Red Riding Hood for the costume class, Kraut had a great time competing in front of the Barn Night crowd and was proud of Andretti S for his great performance. The 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Corland x Animo) has shown at WIHS three times and thrives in the atmosphere at Verizon Center.
“He has been really good. He started out the year fantastic in Florida,” Kraut detailed. “Then we had an accident; he fell at a water jump, and it took him a little while just to get his confidence back. He never did anything bad, but he just was nervous. Sort of starting at the Gold Cup he has gotten better. He always seems to like that show, and he has been going well again, and he has been very consistent.
“For some reason he loves Washington,” Kraut added. “He is a claustrophobic-type horse. He doesn’t like other horses coming towards him, but I think this is the third year I have brought him here and he always does well, so it is fun. I am happy with him.”
Second place honors went to Catherine Tyree (USA) riding Mary Tyree’s Bokai with a score of 65 in 45.15 seconds. Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) and David Gochman’s Luibanta BH finished third with 65 points in 45.50 seconds. Andrew Kocher (USA) earned a perfect score of 65 as well riding Eagle Valley Partners LLC’s Ciana, and finished fourth with his time of 51.63 seconds. Kocher and Ciana then earned the Best Costume Award, presented by Equestrian Sport Productions, for their impressive clown attire.
Barn Night was a huge success as some of the region’s top groups came out Thursday night to participate in special contests and enjoy the unique competition. Memory Hill earned the award for Best Group Video, Harmony Ridge won Best Group Banner, Meadowbrook won Overall Largest Group, and Serene Acres took home the award for Best Group Spirit.
Isabel Ryan and Eve Jobs Triumph in Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers
The $2,500 Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class, sponsored by The Strauss Family, was held on Thursday afternoon with a one-two finish for 17-year-old Isabel Ryan of Locust Valley, NY. Ryan rode Heritage Farm, Inc.’s Levistano 2 to victory and finished second riding her own Abilitydance.
Twenty-two entries started over Alan Wade’s (IRL) one-round speed course, which saw eight clear trips. Ryan and Levistano 2 cleared the course in 48.52 seconds. Abilitydance stopped the clock in 49.21 seconds, and Quinn Larimer and Nestledown Equine Services LLC’s Bronson CR finished the track in 49.40 seconds to place third.
For the win, Ryan was awarded the Beagle Brook Farm Perpetual Trophy. This was her first time winning at WIHS since riding ponies, and her first trip back to the show in three years. In 2014, she started riding with Andre Dignelli at Heritage Farm and just started doing the jumpers last year.
“It was a good return (to WIHS),” Ryan admitted. “My horses were so good. I was really happy because Billy (Abilitydance) is younger, and he was perfect. He really listened to me, which I was worried about. Levi (Levistano 2) was amazing. He was fast, but I was able to get him back really easily, and that was the goal going in. They were both amazing.”
Ryan first started showing Levistano 2 in the jumpers last year and learned quickly with an experienced partner in the 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding (by Levisto). Abilitydance is a newer partnership, but the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (by Orame) has also given the young rider great experience.
“I’m fairly new to the jumpers, and I first got Levi because he is older and very experienced,” Ryan detailed. “He was my first real jumper. I started with him at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) this year in the Low Junior Jumpers and then I slowly moved up. Billy was actually my equitation horse last year and then we switched him to the jumpers in week two of WEF this year. He has been getting used to this job, and he was amazing.”
It was a different experience competing on a horse in the jumpers compared to Ryan’s last experience at WIHS on ponies, but her horses gave her two great rounds.
“It was a little nerve-wracking, especially because the last time I was here I was jumping 2’3”, so that was a big difference,” Ryan acknowledged. “It was really nice to have Levi because I have a lot of confidence in him, and I knew that even if it wasn’t the most competitive round, at least he was going to help me have a nice, good experience at Washington. With Billy, my main goal was just to have a nice round and be clean because this is a big step up from anything that he has done before, so it was a great experience showing here.”
WIHS was Ryan’s last show before heading down to the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL for the winter show season. She is a senior in high school and recently submitted applications to colleges. She plans to continue riding as much as possible.
The $5,000 High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class, sponsored by Staysail Farm, was held during the evening session with a win for 18-year-old Eve Jobs of Palo Alto, CA riding her own Sandor de la Pomme. The pair was awarded The “Footloose” Perpetual Trophy in remembrance of Ruth Ellen Wilmot, donated by The Curtin Family in honor of 1990 winner “Footloose.”
Twenty-four entries showed in the speed competition with just eight clear rounds. Katherine Strauss and All In led with a time of 52.88 seconds, but were pushed to second place in the end as Jobs crossed the finish line in a time of 50.16 seconds. Alexandra Pielet and Co-Pielet LLC’s Helene Ve finished third in 54.62 seconds.
Jobs was competing at the Washington International Horse Show for the first time on Thursday and had great confidence in her mount, a 14-year-old Belgian Sport Horse gelding (Vigo d’Arsouilles x Darco) that she has ridden for two years. The pair also won the Junior Jumper Championship at the Devon Horse Show earlier in the year. Jobs has trained with Missy Clark and John Brennan at North Run in Warren, VT for the last six years and will take a gap year to continue her riding in 2017 before heading to college at UCLA in September. For now, the rider will enjoy a hard-won victory in the challenging competition on Thursday.
“These are my really good friends, and I know that a lot of them are very fast riders. I did not get to watch much, so I was a little intimated walking in there of course,” Jobs admitted. “I think because my horse had such a big stride I was able to do the nine strides down the second to last line, and then the six coming home, which I don’t think many people did. That is probably where I picked up the most time.”
Speaking further of her mount, Jobs said, “This horse is so special. Everything that I have done has been because of this horse. He has taught me an exponential amount. He is truly one of the best horses I have ever ridden.”
Jobs’ main goal this year was to compete in the major equitation finals, and she will also show in the WIHS Equitation Finals this week, starting with the hunter phase on Friday. She then heads to the CP National Horse Show in Kentucky to conclude the season. She will begin competing as an amateur at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL starting in January.
Commenting on her first experience at WIHS, Jobs stated, “All of the horses were wonderful. I think the show is a lot of fun. I think the atmosphere is unlike anything I have ever been to. It is a small ring, but the track rode really nice, and I am very happy with my first day.”
The Washington International Horse Show continues on Friday with the championships for the Junior Hunter divisions as well as the hunter phase of the WIHS Equitation Finals. The Low and High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers will have jump-off classes in the afternoon session. The evening session begins with a $50,000 International Jumper Speed Final, followed by the $25,000 International Jumper Puissance, presented by The Boeing Company. For full results, visit www.wihs.org.
Lillie Keenan and Super Sox (Libby Law Photography)
Barcelona, Spain – The Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final came to an exciting conclusion at CSIO5* Barcelona Saturday evening. Led by Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team of Audrey Coulter, Lauren Hough, Lillie Keenan, and Laura Kraut stood strong against tough competition in the Final’s second round. Building off the momentum from a Silver-medal win at the Rio Olympic Games in August, the U.S. once again stood on the podium, this time earning Bronze. In a sensational evening for the sport, Great Britain and Germany battled it out for top honors in a jump-off. Germany ultimately took Gold, while Great Britain won Silver.
Riding as pathfinders for the U.S. over Santiago Varela’s big and technically demanding course was Hough (Wellington, Fla.) and The Ohlala Group’s Ohlala, a 2004 Swedish Warmblood mare. The pair had a brilliant round until the last fence, an oxer set a long six strides off the triple combination at 12. Hough rode forward, but ended up long, taking the top rails down for a four-fault total.
Next in the order was Coulter (San Francisco, Calif.) and Copernicus Stables, LLC’s Capital Colnardo, a 2005 Holsteiner stallion. With rails down at fences 3 and 12c, the pair added eight faults to the board.
Prior to the final round, the U.S. replaced Lucy Davis and Barron in the team’s starting order due to minor swelling in Barron’s forelimb. The gelding is expected to make a full recovery. Davis and Barron contributed to the final round qualification with a clear round in the opening competition on Thursday. As the alternate members of the team, Keenan and Super Sox stepped into the order. Keenan and Chansonette Farm LLC and Ronnoco Jump Ltd.’s 2006 Hanoverian gelding delivered a clutch clear round in their Nation Cup Final debut.
Preceding the U.S. in the final rotation was Ireland, Switzerland, and Italy, with each nation adding four faults to put all on a five-fault total. With Great Britain and Germany securing zero-fault round-one totals, the door was open for the U.S. to secure a Bronze medal with a clear round from anchor rider, Kraut. Aboard Old Willow Farms, LLC’s Zeremonie, a 2007 Holsteiner mare, Kraut (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) rode with steel nerve to deliver the necessary clear round to secure a podium finish for the U.S.
“The course was very tricky. There were options for striding in almost every line,” said Kraut. “It was fortunate for me that I went late in the class and had a lot of time to make up my mind on what would be best for my horse. Initially after walking the course, I thought adding strides would be best, but as I watched, leaving strides out seemed to be working better, especially with the tight time allowed. I was very pleased with my round. Zeremonie is young and that was a lot of pressure on her.”
Speaking to the team’s overall performance, Kraut noted, “Obviously we like to win, and we were one fence away from being in the jump-off, but this was a strong finish for us. Lillie pulling through in the 11th hour and going clear was an amazing feat. Audrey was great; it just wasn’t her week, but she rode really well.”
In the jump-off, Great Britain was first in the order and opted to send forward 2016 Individual Olympic Gold medalists, Nick Skelton and Big Star. The pair jumped clear in 41.57 to put the pressure on Germany. With the advantage of knowing exactly what was needed to secure the win, Marcus Ehning and Pret A Tout delivered for their nation, going clear in 39.80.
Laura Kraut and Cavalia (Laurence Dunne/Rockmountain Studios)
Dublin, Ireland – The United States overcame immense pressure to tie with Sweden for the Bronze medal at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ presented by Longines at CSIO5* Dublin, Ireland. The Hermès Show Jumping Team of Georgina Bloomberg, Lauren Hough, Laura Kraut, and Jessica Springsteen battled a tough field to extend its podium success in Nations Cup competition. In an intense jump-off, Italy went clear to snatch the Gold medal on zero faults from the home team of Ireland, who claimed Silver on six faults.
“Obviously, we always want to win, and be in the jump-off. The Irish and Italians were very strong, and we knew that going in. We had a couple nine year-old [horses]. To have a podium finish, I was very proud of them and their performance,” said Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland.
The U.S. team put up an impressive first-round effort. Hough (Wellington, Fla.) and Ohlala, The Ohlala Group’s 2004 Swedish Warmblood mare, were the pathfinders for the U.S. team. The growing combination dug deep to finish with zero faults. Springsteen (Colts Neck, N.J.) and Cynar, Stone Hill Farm’s 2007 Dutch Warmblood gelding, nearly matched Hough and Ohlala’s efforts. Unfortunately, they were eliminated due to two refusals at the water jump, obstacle 10.
Knowing there was little room for error, the seasoned combination of Bloomberg (New York, N.Y.) and Lilli, Gotham Enterprizes LLC’s 2004 Deutsches Sportpferd mare, came up big for the U.S. and posted a clear round to keep the team on zero faults. Kraut (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.), the 2016 U.S. Olympic Show Jumping Team alternate, and Cavalia, St. Bride’s Farm’s 2007 KWPN mare, executed their job perfectly as the anchor combination, posting zero faults.
The U.S. entered the second round tied for first place with Ireland and Italy. Sweden narrowly trailed with four faults. Every jump counted, and the U.S. needed clean performances in the second round to remain medal-worthy. Hough and Ohlala were unable to match their first-round performance and finished with eight faults. She and the mare had rails down at the Harp oxer, obstacle three, and the Furusiyya oxer, obstacle seven. Springsteen and Cynar did not jump a second round so it was up to Bloomberg and Kraut to carry the team through.
“To not have him [Cynar] go in the second round put huge pressure on the other three so that every fault was going to count from that point on. That’s Nations Cup pressure, in front of an absolutely packed house in Dublin, one of the most important Nations Cups of the calendar year,” said Ridland.
With Sweden right on the U.S. team’s tale with eight faults and Springsteen’s second round score dropped, the U.S. needed Bloomberg and Lilli to jump clear. They knocked one rail at the Furusiyya oxer for four faults, leaving them tied with Sweden going into Kraut and Cavalia’s final attempt on the course. The young combination delivered a perfect round to end the day with a double-clear and solidify a tying Bronze medal effort.
“I thought they did a great job. For us to end up in the medals and tied for third is a great finish. Laura’s double clear on Cavalia and it being her [Cavalia’s] first Nations Cup, and only being nine years old, it was just a tremendous finish,” said Ridland.
La Baule, France – The Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team took the Silver medal in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup at CSIO5* La Baule in France on Friday. Led by Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, the team of Lucy Davis, Margie Engle, Lauren Hough, and Todd Minikus put in solid rounds to finish on four faults. This performance sets an excellent tone for the summer as the event served as the first of four observation events for members of the Short List for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Show Jumping Team, as part of the selection process for the Team. The field of eight nations was stacked with some of the world’s top talent, producing a close competition to the very end. The Netherlands topped the leaderboard on one fault and the home country of France came in third on five faults.
“It definitely went well today; we beat some really good teams. Going head-to-head with the best in the world is why we are here,” said Ridland. “To come out with four clear rounds right off the bat was impressive. It was a great effort. The course was not tricky or highly technical, but it wasn’t easy. This is a wonderful show with a great crowd; it was great to be back here at one of the best shows in the world.”
The Americans had a foot-perfect round one, with the first three combinations, Hough (Wellington, Fla.) and The Ohlala Group’s Ohlala, Davis (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Old Oak Farm Inc.’s Barron, and Engle (Wellington, Fla.) and Elm Rock Partners, LLC’s Royce, all turning in clear rounds. These performances put the U.S. forward to round two in a four-way tie for the lead on zero faults. Anchor combination, Minikus (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Jack Snyder and Two Swans Farm’s Babalou 41, put in a round one performance in an effort to qualify for Sunday’s Grand Prix. The pair also produced a clear round, giving the U.S. the only clean sheet in round one.
Round two did not start as smoothly as round one, with lead combination Hough and Ohlala pulling three rails. Davis and Barron got the U.S. back on track with a second clear round that was followed by another double-clear effort from Engle and Royce. When the order got down to the final combinations for each nation, the competition was extremely tight. The U.S. and The Netherlands were on zero faults, followed closely by Switzerland and Great Britain on four faults. Going before the U.S. in the order, Switzerland’s anchor rider had the last fence down to add four faults to their score, and the Dutch came home with one time fault. The pressure was on Minikus and Babalou 41 as they entered the arena. The pair had a solid round over the wet ground, but an unfortunate rail at fence four meant it would be the Silver medal for the U.S.
“They all handled the pressure great,” said Ridland of his team in round two. “That part of it is the fun part, and they certainly all buckled down. Margie and Lucy were able to duplicate their clear round one efforts and we were more than in the game when Todd went in. It was ours to win, and Todd came really close; the horse had a little slip in the turn and then the rail down, but that’s show jumping. With so many great teams here, we are pretty pleased with today.”
“The course was straight forward, and we had a lot of clears in first round,” said Engle. “I was really pleased with how Royce jumped as he is fresh off a break. It did take him a little bit to get used to the footing because it was soft, but he handled it well. They raised the jumps a bit in round two, and he felt even better. He held his composure and kept his energy level up which was nice – he was super. The whole team here felt really positive; everyone has been in good spirits.”
This Nations Cup competition marked the fourth of the year for the U.S., having showcased great results in Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup events at Ocala and Coapexpan, where they placed first and second, respectively. The U.S. also finished second at the FEI Nations Cup in Wellington.
“The year is young, but so far we are having a really good year,” said Ridland. “We have competed in four Nations Cups with 16 different horses, that shows incredible depth in both the riders and horses we have.”
Lauren Hough and Cornet 39. Photos copyright Sportfot.
Kaely Tomeu and Gentille Win $50,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series Final; Kelli Cruciotti Tops 2016 Series Overall
Wellington, FL – March 26, 2016 – Competition on Saturday during week eleven of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) featured international show jumping on both sides of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. The $130,000 Engel & Völkers Grand Prix CSI 4* was featured in the International Ring on the main show grounds in the evening with a win for Lauren Hough (USA) aboard Paris Sellon’s Cornet 39. Laura Chapot (USA) and ISHD Dual Star finished second, and Carly Anthony (USA) riding Dublin placed third.
The $50,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series Final, presented by Equiline, was held in the International Ring at The Stadium at PBIEC earlier in the day with a win for Kaely Tomeu and Gentille. The series also awarded its top competitors over all seven events with Kelli Cruciotti finishing on top of the standings.
WEF 11 concludes on Sunday, March 27, with the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic to be held on the derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC beginning at 11:30 a.m. The 12-week WEF circuit continues through April 3 offering more than $9 million in prize money.
Forty-four entries contested Olaf Petersen, Jr.’s (GER) course on Saturday night, with ten clear rounds and seven double clear in the jump-off as times got faster and faster. Juan Ortiz (VEN) and Synchronicity Group’s d’Ulien van de Smeets set the pace with a clear round in 42.01 seconds to eventually finish seventh. Nick Dello Joio (USA) upped the pace with the Corlida Group’s Corlida in 39.56 seconds to finish sixth. Carly Anthony (USA) and Artisan Farms’ Dublin were next to go in a faster time of 37.67 seconds that ended in third place. Amy Millar (CAN) and AMMO Investments’ Heros jumped into fourth place with their time of 38.57.
Laura Chapot (USA) and Mary Chapot’s ISHD Dual Star briefly took the lead with their time of 36.29 seconds, but were soon bested by Lauren Hough and Cornet 39, who stole the show with a blazing round in a time of 35.98 seconds. Last to go, Laura Kraut (USA) and Old Willow Farms’ Zeremonie jumped into fifth place, crossing the timers in 39.49 seconds.
Cornet 39 is a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Cornet Obolensky x Caletto I) that Hough rides for owner Paris Sellon. Sellon rode him herself and then Hough took over the ride at the end of the winter last year. They have since been progressing slowly.
“He was part of the winning Nations’ Cup team in Ocala a few weeks ago, and then he had a little break and really felt fantastic tonight,” Hough detailed. “He was also very good in the WEF (Challenge Cup) the other day. He has sort of been knocking on the door, and I am very proud of him.”
Speaking of the tiebreaker, Hough stated, “There were ten in the jump-off with some of the best horses and riders, and they kept setting the bar higher and higher. Laura (Chapot) is always very fast, and my horse was fantastic tonight. He was really on my side. Sometimes he can go a little against me, and he was really trying hard for me. I think I was very fast back to the double and very fast to the second-to-last (jump), which actually put me out, and at the last minute I had to do one more stride to the last jump. I had a little bit of luck on my side, but I was really pleased with the horse’s performance tonight.”
Commenting on the course, Hough remarked, “I thought it was excellent. I thought Olaf Petersen did a fantastic job. He had a little bit of a mixed field tonight with some younger horses, but it was excellent. There were rails everywhere and the time was just tight enough. Ten in the jump-off was just fine for this week, and I really hope we get to see more of Olaf because he does a great job.”
Hough will continue to develop Cornet 39 this year and plans to compete him again in week twelve CSI 5* competition.
“I think he has a really bright future,” she stated. “I am going week by week, as I had a setback myself, and had knee surgery this winter. My original plans got a little off-kilter, but he will go next week and we will go from there. We head back to Europe the 15th of April and start back over there.
“I did come back very quickly,” Hough said of her surgery. “I have an amazing team of doctors and physios. I have been really lucky to have great people around me in this village of Wellington, so I am very grateful to all of them. Thank you to Engel & Völkers for their sponsorship tonight. This is the second time I have won their class, and I am really thankful for their support.”
Laura Chapot settled for second place with her round aboard ISHD Dual Star, a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Quick Star x Concorde), but was pleased with her Saturday night.
“I could not be happier with my horse tonight. I think she jumped fantastic, and I think she had a fantastic jump-off,” Chapot stated. “I think Lauren was a little bit faster back to the combination. Even with my horse’s big stride leaving out, it got a little bit steady, so it did not allow her to run the whole way around. I have no regrets; I would not take back any strides. She was super. Lauren was just a little faster, and she deserved the win today.”
Carly Anthony had her best finish ever riding Dublin for Artisan Farms. Anthony brings along young horses for Olympic gold medalist Eric Lamaze (CAN), and has been slowly developing the nine-year-old German Warmblood gelding (Cobra x Calido).
“I am really excited,” Anthony said after the class. “Artisan has owned Dublin for the last two years, and it has been my job to bring him along for Eric. I am very fortunate that they have let me take that on and bring him along to this level. He is special. He is a little difficult to ride sometimes. I got eight strides in the first line in the jump-off, which I think is where I lost a bit of time. But the more you push him and the more competitive you feel, he comes right back with it and wants to win just as badly as you do.”
Anthony continued, “This is the biggest thing he has done ever. We did the WEF (Challenge Cup) this week, which was also a step up, and until then we had done three 1.50m classes. In two out of the three he was clear, so I felt like we had enough of a good chance to go today and see what we got, and I think he exceeded expectations. This is a top finish. I am very happy with it and happy with how he went today. It makes me proud, and I am glad I can represent Artisan Farms.”
Carol Sollak and Amy Carr of Engel & Völkers presented prizes to the top riders Saturday evening and were thrilled with the fantastic evening of competition.
“We are so excited to have this grand prix,” Sollak stated. “It is our third grand prix that we have sponsored, and it seems like it has been ladies day every one that we have done. We are very happy with the girls, and we love being a sponsor here. We think this show is the most amazing horse show in the world.”
Carr added, “I think a lot of our clientele are here and competing, and we feel it is something we can do to give back because we support the sport and we think so highly of all the competitors. Congratulations to all of them on the whole circuit and doing so well. Certainly we thank the Bellissimo family and the Wellington Equestrian Partners for everything they do for this sport. We are very happy and proud to be a part of the sport that we all love.”
Cornet 39’s groom, Sinead Anglin, received the Groom’s Initiative Award presented by Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners, to reward her dedication and hard work as an integral member of the winning team.
Amy Millar (CAN) earned the Leading Lady Rider Award for week eleven, presented by Martha Jolicoeur of Douglas Elliman in memory of Dale Lawler.
The Potcreek Meadow Farm Junior Sportsmanship Trophy was awarded to McKayla Langmeier as the junior rider that consistently demonstrates outstanding conduct, horsemanship, attitude, and courtesy appropriate for a competitor at the highest levels of our sport. The trophy is presented in memory of Candida C. Fortsmann by Cara Anthony.
Also competing in the International Ring on Saturday, Emily Moffitt kicked off the morning with a win in the $10,000 Sleepy P Ranch SJHOF High Junior Jumper Classic aboard Hilfiger van de Olmenhoeve. Lucas Porter and Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s B Once Z won the $15,000 MAYBACH – ICONS OF LUXURY SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, and Olivia Chowdry and Cosma 20 topped the $1,500 Animo USA Medium Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class.
Kaely Tomeu and Gentille Win $50,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series Final, presented by Equiline; Kelli Cruciotti Tops 2016 Series Overall
Starting off Saturday’s competition in the International Ring at The Stadium at PBIEC, 30 entries jumped in the $50,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series Final, presented by Equiline, with eight clear rounds over Olaf Petersen, Jr.’s course. In the jump-off, Kaely Tomeu (USA) and Siboney Ranch’s Gentille jumped to the fastest of four double clear rounds in the winning time of 36.34 seconds.
Victoria Colvin (USA) and Take the High Road LLC’s Echo van’t Spieveld finished second in 38.28 seconds. Stephen Moore (IRL) and Vlock Show Stables’ Team de Coquerie placed third in 39.20 seconds, and Rachel Reid (USA) and her own Huckleberry earned the fourth place honors with a time of 41.17.
Tomeu (20), of Wellington, FL, trains with Shane Sweetnam, Ali Sweetnam, and Michael Delfiandra at Sweet Oak Farm and just purchased Gentille in January. She and the ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Heartbreaker x Kannan) also won the $25,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Semi-Final, presented by Seabrook LLC, during week nine.
“After winning the semi-final I was really excited, so I came in today with high hopes for this one,” Tomeu stated. “I never imagined I would win, especially two in a row, and especially the final. I just got this horse in January and she has been nothing but absolutely amazing. I did the team event and she was double clear, and then I won the semi-final and now this one, and those are the only Under 25 classes I have done this year with her. We did not make it overall in the series to get anything, but she was so perfect and I was happy enough with doing this. It was a dream come true.”
Commenting on her winning jump-off round, Tomeu detailed, “She is really fast naturally, so I do not have to try at all. You just sit there and it is her pace that she wants to go. I just sit there, try to hold on, and she is honestly so easy. She knows what she is doing, and she just looks for the next jump. I knew she was going to go fast no matter what, so as long as I participated and helped her out, I knew she was going to do her best.”
Tomeu has been competing in the U25 Series for the last few years and has learned a lot from riding in the different classes.
“I think this series is a great experience,” she noted. “I have done it a few years before, but always on a different horse. With her, I think great things are to come. I hope I get to have her for a long time and go to finals and everything. You never know, but she is a horse of a lifetime for me.”
Second place finisher, Victoria Colvin, was aboard Echo van’t Spieveld, a horse that she got six months ago and has not shown much. She explained that the horse bucking in her jump-off round lost the pair a little time.
“He is a little quirky in that he will try and buck you off,” Colvin explained. “In the jump-off, I landed off fence one and I was hoping he was not going to buck, but then he bucked twice and it takes a very long time for him because he is a big boy. He is really easy though, and he is like a big pony.”
Colvin previously won the U25 Series in 2014 and explained what a great thing the series has been for her career.
“I think it is really important,” she noted. “It is a middle step to the real grand prix level. It is great for us to be able to show in a series that is super important with classes at a very high level before moving all the way up to showing with the top Europeans and international riders. It is such a pleasure to be able to compete in this, and thank you to all of the sponsors for helping the series come true.”
Irish rider Stephen Moore finished third in the final aboard Vlock Show Stables’ Team de Coquerie in his second year competing in the U25 Series.
“I had two horses last year, and they were both really good, and I was placed in the final as well,” Moore explained. “This year I got a new horse in Team de Coquerie. I was a little late getting him, so I only got to do the last three classes, but he was brilliant in all of them. He was double clear on the grass, and then he had one down in the semi-final, and now he was double clear here again today. Thank you to the Vlock family – they own him, they got him for me. He is going really well, so we are delighted.”
Going first in the jump-off, Moore detailed, “I knew I had all of the very fast riders coming after me, so I did the best I could, but I could have been faster. I ended up doing one extra stride in a couple of places, but I do not know the horse that well, so I was not really sure. I could have been faster, but Kaely and Tori are always really fast, so I am not surprised that they beat me anyway.”
Kelli Cruciotti (18), of Elizabeth, CO, placed eighth in Saturday’s final with two rails down in the jump-off, but she and her 15-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare Chamonix H were the most consistent pair in the seven classes of the series overall. Saturday’s class was the final event in the 2016 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series, which also awarded top prizes for its overall standings after the competition.
Cruciotti was the series winner for her exceptional performance throughout the winter. Madison Goetzmann finished second, and Tina Yates placed third. Lucas Porter (4th), Lucy Deslauriers (5th), and Brett Burlington (6th) rounded out the top six in the 2016 Series.
As the overall winning rider, Cruciotti will be invited to compete at the CSI 2* Chantilly Horse Show, part of the Global Champions Tour, from May 26-29, 2016, in France. In addition to her entry, Cruciotti receives two tickets to the Chantilly VIP lounge, transportation for one horse generously provided by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte, and layover at Artisan Farms in Vrasene, Belgium. She also received an Equiline saddle.
“I am so excited. I cannot even believe it. It feels unreal,” Cruciotti said of her win. “I have to thank the Ziegler family and everybody that put this series together. For us to be able to compete in so many different venues, it is invaluable experience for us as young riders. I also have to thank my team, my mom Cindy Cruciotti, Peter Lutz, and all of the horses that helped me.”
Speaking of her top mount, Chamonix H, Cruciotti acknowledged, “She is fantastic. She was actually my first high junior jumper. I have had her now for four years, and she has been nothing but the best teacher for me to move up and learn how to do things correctly. Today was not our day; we gave it a shot and sometimes it happens that way, but I could not be happier with her. She has jumped some incredible rounds this circuit, and I am excited for the rest of the year.”
Cruciotti has never competed in Europe before and is excited for her first trip to show abroad. After this circuit the horses will go home to Colorado in April for some rest and relaxation. At the end of April, Cruciotti will go to Europe for a couple of shows, and she is now lucky enough to qualify to go to the Global Champions Tour in Chantilly.
Colvin traveled to Europe for her first time two years ago through her win in the U25 series and told Cruciotti of the experience, stating, “It was so much fun. It was my first time ever in Europe or anywhere out of the country, so to be able to go and compete in Europe was completely different for me. Everything was different – the ribbon presentations, the courses, the people, the surroundings – it was all different, but it was a really fun experience. You are going to have a great time.”
Now in its sixth year at the Winter Equestrian Festival, the Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series, presented by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte, has proven to be a launching pad for young show jumping talent. Offering a total of $170,000 in prize money, the Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Series is open to competitors of all nationalities aged 25 and under. Developed as a bridge to the international level of grand prix competition, the Series offers all of the components of international competition without the pressure of going head-to-head against seasoned professionals and Olympic athletes.
Carlene Ziegler of Artisan Farms spoke of the development of the series over the last six years, stating, “It has been so wonderful to watch the progression. When we started this, this division did not exist. It was not a USEF division; it was only something that we knew was being done in Europe. There was no series or group of classes during the year for these riders who had just graduated from the junior or even high amateur ranks, but were trying to make that bridge to the big grand prixs, to do that. It has been incredible to watch what has happened.
“This is the sixth year, and I still remember the first year there was a U25 championship that was going to happen in conjunction with the World Cup Finals, and the top six riders got invited to participate in that,” Ziegler continued. “It was names that you all know now. It was Reed Kessler, and the Coulters, and Lucy Davis, and my daughter Caitlin. It was an incredible first year, and since then it has just gotten better and better in the quality of riders. There are so many riders that are qualified to do this now that are riding at this very high level, so it has been very gratifying. Congratulations to everybody.”
Ziegler added, “I also want to say thank you to Kelli (Cruciotti) for competing today. The way the scoring works for the series, it rewards consistency, and Kelli had been very consistent throughout the whole series. She already had the points to win the series overall before today, but she chose to be here and participate in the final, and in the spirit of competition, it was really great to have her here.”
Part of the Ziegler family’s goal was to encourage other sponsors to come forward and augment support for the seven events comprising the Series. To that end, several sponsors stepped forward to strengthen the efforts of title sponsor Artisan Farms and presenting sponsor, The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte. Equine Couture/Tuff Rider, EnTrust Capital, Equiline, the McNerney family, and Seabrook, LLC all sponsored classes within the 2016 Series.
Kelli Molinari of Equiline was on hand for Saturday’s final and spoke of the wonderful experience that the series gives these young riders.
“Thank you to the Ziegler family for allowing us to sponsor the final,” Molinari stated. “It is a great opportunity for Equiline to be able to reward and encourage the young riders to take advantage of this opportunity to bridge the middle gap between the juniors and the grand prix. It is a tremendous learning experience for them, and for us it is rewarding to be able to help. We are really happy to support the future of our sport.”
Equiline awarded a custom show coat to Sarah Bagworth (CAN) for their Amateur Appreciation Award for the Series.
Tim Dutta of the Dutta Corp. was also present for Saturday’s final event and thanked the Ziegler family for putting on such an important series.
“Thank you to the Ziegler family. It is world-class what they do for the sport of show jumping,” Dutta stated. “We are very delighted to be part of this series. We think these riders are our next superstars and Olympians. Dutta Corp. gives horses wings, so we are looking forward to their journey and showing them how it is done in Europe. Of course we support these riders, and I hope this is one of many times that they will go to Europe and I hope they do us proud. We have had Olympians come out of this series and some of our superstar young riders started out here. It is a huge growth, and truly I think it is the finest U25 series that I know of anywhere in the world. To have it over a period of weeks, to have this kind of competition, to have this kind of venue, to have this much pressure, to deal with sponsors, media, veterinarians, stewards, rules, to be a lady and a gentleman, and after all of that to see the sport grow, it is just very gratifying for The Dutta Corp.”
WEF 11 concludes on Sunday with the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic to be held on the derby field at The Stadium at PBIEC beginning at 11:30 a.m. The FarmVet Adult Amateur Hunter 36-49 Sec. B will award championship honors in Ring 8. For full results and more information, please visit www.pbiec.com.
Ocala, Florida (February 20, 2016): The U.S. dream team including Beezie Madden, McLain Ward, Todd Minikus, Lauren Hough, and led by Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, claimed a memorable victory at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup CSI04*, presented by Edge Brewing Barcelona, at HITS Post Time Farm on Friday, February 19. Not only winning the class and a piece of the $112,900 prize purse, but the U.S. team also secured a spot at the top of the 2016 FEI Nations Cup rankings for the Furusiyya Final in Barcelona later this year.
The stage was set at HITS Post Time Farm complete with two sold out VIP clubs, a bustling grandstand and thousands viewing a live FEI TV webcast, all waiting to see which of the eight teams – Australia, Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and the United States – would go home with a win. Competitors did not disappoint their fans as the showdown for international bragging rights ensued.
A total of thirty-one riders from across the globe contested the FEI Nations Cup course set with 12 obstacles at 1.60m and designed by Alan Wade of Ireland. The first three competitors, Luke Dee (NZL) and Aucland De I’enclos, Daniel Bluman (COL) and Conconcreto Sancha LS, and Shane Sweetnam (IRL) riding Eregast van’t Kiezelhof, all sped through the course with hopes of going clear, but fell victim to penalties during their attempts. It wasn’t until Matt Williams (AUS), aboard Valinski S, entered the ring did onlookers see a clear round. Williams was just over the time allowed leaving him with one time fault and Australia for the lead.
The crowd went silent as the fifth rider in the order, McLain Ward (USA) and the iconic Rothchild, appeared at the in-gate. In true Ward fashion, he gave spectators just what they wanted – a clean round.
“Alan did a spectacular job as usual. We were actually speaking at dinner last night about what a fan we all are of his courses. When I walked the course I thought it was quite big, but straightforward enough. I was a little concerned,” said McLain. “We have a strong team here and we wanted it to be difficult but I was thinking it might ride a little too easy.”
Second to ride for the Team U.S.A. was 2015 Nations Cup Ocala alumni, Lauren Hough (USA), piloting Cornet. Careful in their step, they cruised over the obstacles but trouble at the triple would cost them four faults.
Competition grew fierce, and the audience more engaged, waiting to see who, if anyone, could best McLain. Third to ride for Colombia, Fernando Cardenas (COL) and Quincy Car, whipped through the turns of the course, going clear and confirming that a race to first place was on.
Pressure was building for Pan American Games Bronze Medalist and 2014 HITS Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix winner, Todd Minikus (USA) and Babalou, who were on deck for the States. Keeping his cool and living up to a winning reputation, Minikus went fault free to continue his team’s success.
The next few trips ended with penalties for downed rails but that came to a halt when Scott Keach (AUS) and Fedor, rode fourth representing the Land Down Under. Keach led his bay mount to a clean finish for Australia’s only zero fault score in round one.
The chase continued for the final U.S. rider of the round, Beezie Madden (USA) and Breitling LS, who once again proved that she is the ultimate horsewoman. Careful and efficient, Madden cleared the final jump as the crowd erupted in cheers. After the FEI Nations Cup™ scoring format was applied, dropping the highest penalty from each team, the standings going into the second round had the U.S.A. in first, Colombia in second with Mexico trailing by one point in third, Australia in fourth, Ireland in fifth, New Zealand in sixth, Canada in seventh and El Salvador in eighth.
Round two commenced as ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ filled the air for the first six riders who all had rails in their paths leading to penalties against their teams. Seventh in the round two order was Daniel Bluman (COL) who was ready for redemption and rode his 13 year old bay to a zero fault finish. Ward, who was the next trip of the day, hoped for a repeat performance from his round one success but a rail at the second obstacle of the combination would result in four faults, leaving it up to his teammates to pull through for a win.
“I think riding for your country is the ultimate goal or dream, and when you get the opportunity you certainly want to do a good job,” said Ward. “These three riders here and the Chef d’Equipe – I have the utmost respect for them and I consider them my friends. I didn’t want to let them down.”
Troubled trips leading to scoresheet faults continued for the second wave of riders with only one, Cian O’Connor (IRL) and Sam du Challois, going clear. As Hough prepared to ride second for her team she was determined to put it all on the line and trust in her gifted, four-legged partner. Unfortunately, she would have two rails in the triple combination for eight faults but that didn’t mean the U.S. was out of the game just yet.
“The first round he withheld himself a bit at the triple and I knew I had to really ride him strong in the second round, where he held himself even more. I was lucky to actually get out of the triple with only two down,” said Hough of her 12 year old grey mount. “I still had a long way to go and I fought really hard to make it home. Thank goodness I have three strong teammates here.”
Third to ride for their country, Amy Millar (CAN) and Heros, Claudia Hay (NZL) and Euro Sport Centavos, Richie Moloney (IRL) and Ypaja Yando, Thomas McDermott (AUS) and Quick Petite Folie, Federico Fernandez (MEX) and Guru, Fernando Cardenas (COL) and Quincy Car, as well as Todd Minikus (USA) and Babalou all left the ring with faults, leaving the crowd questioning who would pull through as the champion. Would the anchor riders clean up? Could a sleeper pull ahead and place in the top three? Only time would tell, but one thing was certain – powerhouse Beezie Madden (USA) was the final trip of the day.
The fourth rider for each team gave it everything they had, but once again fallen rails would keep them all from the top spot. A legendary anchor, Madden was on her A-game to close out the day. With precision and caution she navigated Breitling LS to a clear round and although taking her time would cost her one time fault, she sealed the deal for a Team U.S.A. win.
“I had a nice position because I could afford to have two rails down and still win, so as an anchor rider that is one of the best positions you can be in. Thanks to these guys [pointing to her teammates] we were in that position,” said Madden.
Humble in her win, Madden gave credit to her partner, adding, “I took a little extra time with the second round. He is just now starting to get pretty dependable at this level and we couldn’t be more excited about him.”
Dressed to the nines in Furusiyya coolers and sashes, with smiles larger than life, the home team took a well-deserved victory lap in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium as the National Anthem carried throughout the stands.
Beaming with pride, Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland praised his teams’ performance. “We knew coming in that the competition was going to be tough. We had to bring our best team to be able to have a chance to win. It was definitely stressful and we did it a little bit differently than in the last few years. We had a habit of easing off in the first round, unintentionally, and come back in the second… We did come with our best and we were fortunate to come away with the win. We are fortunate to be where we are today.”
Ridland continued, acknowledging HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri for a superior event in the heart of horse country. “Tom, you and your staff at HITS, and of course the sponsors, did a tremendous job in putting this on. A beautiful course and an incredible crowd on a Friday afternoon – it couldn’t have been better.”
A common theme of patriotism and honor continued during the post-event press conference, with Course Designer Alan Wade adding, “It is a great honor to be chosen as the course designer for the Nations Cup. Everyone that competed in that class today – you cannot take that away from them. They were chosen as the best in their country in the sport and whether you had a rail down or three down that is something you cannot take away from them. They represented their country on that stage.”
“When we hired Alan for this class it was unlike most hires. It was moving to hear him talk about it. It is really important to him and it’s even more important to me to hear his sentiments,” said HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri. “It was great to have this team that Robert brought here. I can’t imagine how it must be to ride for the U.S. Team because I was moved to hear the anthem at the end, and that made it worthwhile for me.”
FEI ranked competition at HITS Ocala continues on Saturday, February 20 with the $34,600 HITS Jumper Classic and on Sunday, February 21 with the $100,000 City of Ocala Grand Prix.
Todd Minikus for one is already looking ahead to the weekend, adding, “Babalou jumped fantastic in the first round. And to tell you the truth she’s been off her game a little bit this week and I think she just got a little down in the second round. She’s going to make a heck of a comeback in the Grand Prix.”