Wellington, Fla.—Feb. 20
With two U.S. teams entered in the Wellington Nations Cup CDIO***, chef d’equipe Robert Dover had one goal in mind—win.
His wish came true as the USA I team (Adrienne Lyle on Wizard, Tina Konyot on Calecto V, Shawna Harding on Rigo and Silva Martin on Rosa Cha W) took the top spot on day one and never relinquished it. They finished on a score of 432.54 over the Canada I team (414.48) and Spain (412.63) on the final day of team competition.
“It’s wonderful that we have this Nations Cup here in America starting off a great series of Nations Cups around the world,” said Dover. “Of course, I came into this with not only the hope, but the expectation that America would lead. I’m not a good loser at all. I like winning, so when America goes out, no matter where we are in the world, we are going into every arena with the idea of winning and of course doing our best. I was very proud of all of our riders, not only on this team, but our B team as well.”
Lyle, 29, Ketchum, Idaho, and Wizard led the team for the second day with the highest score in the Grand Prix Special (71.05%) and relished her first opportunity to ride on a team. “What a blast, what a fun atmosphere,” she said. “It was a fun added pressure. A, ‘Come on, let’s do this for each other [attitude.]’”
Silva Martin, 33, Cochranville, Pa., made her U.S. team debut and was pleased with her ride in the Intermediaire I test. “I’m really excited,” she said. “I didn’t feel too pressured. I felt that we had a great support team behind us with the coaches, Debbie [McDonald] and Robert and I just really enjoyed the whole experience of getting the input and help. I felt comfortable because everybody made me feel comfortable.”
Konyot, 52, Palm City, Fla., was the most experienced member of the team, having represented the U.S. at the 2012 London Olympic Games and the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games with Calecto V. She enjoyed the time she was able to spend with her teammates and the opportunity to watch up and coming riders get a chance.
“Obviously all of are very close as friends, so it’s nice to be kind of supporting each other in our home country,” she said. “For me it’s my own state. We’re all friends so it’s pretty special to be here and all together and also to have newer, younger people coming up on teams and being so successful. I’m very proud of all of them.”
For Harding, 44, Aiken, S.C., the finish was a great way to come back to top-level sport since she’d been sidelined with a serious illness last year.
“It means the world just to be back in the saddle and back in this atmosphere with such incredible riders and working with Robert and Debbie’s help also,” she said. “I’m so happy to be here, I’m kind of without words! It’s good to be back.”
While Canada may have beaten the U.S. in ice hockey at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, today, they had to settle for second place in the Nations Cup, and were thrilled with their showing.
“I think it was a wonderful experience,” said Chris Von Martels, who rode Zilverstar in the Intermediaire I. “I think there’s not anybody in the room that will argue that the Canadians always have a great sense of pride amongst each other as teammates. We have a lot of people behind us that are there to give us a little push or a hand whenever we need it, so I think that contributed to our success.”
The Spanish team, who had the largest and loudest cheering squad all week, were also thrilled with their finish.
“Being here next to these amazing riders is already a dream,” said Paula Matute, whose brother, Juan Matute Jr., finished second in the Intermediaire I on Don Diego Ymas. “To be sharing the podium and look to the left and see all these people is incredible. I remember when I was little I would look up to them and watch videos and want to be like them. It’s incredible, I have no words.”
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To see more action from the Nations Cup, visit the hub page.
Tomorrow’s freestyle for individual medals begins at 5:15 p.m. with the Intermediaire I and the Grand Prix will begin at 8:15 p.m.