Calgary, Alberta—Sept. 9
There were a lot of Brazilian riders holding their breath, leaning and kicking from the sidelines as Pedro Veniss galloped to the last line in the second round of the $400,000 BMO Nations Cup.
If he jumped clean with Quabri De Lisle, the Brazilian team—which was down to three riders—would win outright. One rail, and they’d have to jump off with the U.S. team for the win.
Quabri Des Lisle just touched an oxer behind, and the rail fell. The Brazilians exhaled. Jump-off it would be.
Beezie Madden, who turned in two clean rounds in the Nations Cup with Darry Lou, was chosen to face off against Brazil’s Pedro Junqueira Muylaert on Prince Royal Z MFS. There was one hitch, though. “I’m pretty sure that’s actually the first jump-off I’ve ever done on him, except maybe in a 1.30-meter class where I practiced going fast one time,” Madden said. “This was the first time I actually tried to go fast over big fences with him, so I’m so happy with him.”
Madden just started riding Darry Lou in April. In August, they helped the U.S. team win the Longines FEI Nations Cup at Dublin.
Darry Lou’s first big-time jump-off round fit the bill, leaving all the rails in the cups and stopping the timers in 39.21 seconds. “I thought I did some good turns and has a little bit of foot speed,” she said. “I think my horse could probably be beaten on foot speed on the big gallops. In hindsight, I maybe could have done one or to less strides to a few of the fences. But I think my plan, going first, was to put in a really solid round that they had to go a little to beat, and it worked. I left the door open a little but I also made Pedro go a little, too, and that was the goal.”
And go Muylaert did. He pushed Prince Royal MFS through the turns, but had a bad slip on one rollback early in the course. He took a fraction of a second to regroup, and then jumped clean. When the timers stopped, he was just half a second slower than Madden. He walked out of the ring shaking his head.
The Brazilians put up a game fight after their first to go in Round 1, Alberto Menezes riding Quintol, took a hard fall on course. Menezes lay still for a few minutes, then was taken off the field in an ambulance. Spruce Meadows spokesman Ian Allison said Menezes was not injured beyond a possible concussion. “He actually wanted to ride in the second round, but there are concussion protocols in play now,” Allison said. “He wanted to walk out of the ring but they wouldn’t let him. The paramedics and medical team here checked him out and we’ll see tomorrow morning if they clear him to jump in the grand prix.”
That left Muylaert, Veniss and Yuri Mansur Guerios on Babylotte to head the Brazilian effort with no drop score. They were up to the challenge, putting three clean rounds on the board in Round 1 to take the lead. Heading into Round 2, Germany was in second with just 1 fault and the United States and Canada were tied for third with 8 faults each.
But the wheels fell off a bit for Germany in Round 2, as only one of their riders put in a clean round. And Canada’s hopes faltered as Ben Asselin and Eric Lamaze both had rails.
Hough on Waterford and Jacobs on Cassinja both jumped clean to lead off the U.S. Round 2 effort, and when Madden put in her second clean round on Darry Lou, they were able to drop Keenan’s 4 faults on Fibonacci 17. They ended Round 2 with just the 8 faults.
Muylaert went first in Round 2 for Brazil, and had the very last rail down to put Brazil’s total at 4 faults. Guerios jumped clean again, then Veniss had his rail to tie things up. And in the jump-off, things went Madden’s way to help the U.S. team claim the BMO Nations Cup trophy for the first time since 2010.
“We knew we had a pretty tall ladder to climb to get up to the top,” said U.S. chef d’equipe Robert Ridland. “Brazil set the bar pretty high for us. We’ve done that before, and we felt we really had four solid rounds in the first round, so there wasn’t a whole lot to fix. That’s the nature of a Nations Cup—that second round isn’t free. It doesn’t even ride like the first round—the horses know where they’re going and so forth. So I’d say more often than not, things do change a lot in the second round.”
See full results of the BMO Nations Cup. For more in-depth coverage of Spruce Meadows, including a look at how Madden’s ride Darry Lou has developed so quickly, made sure to read the Sept. 25 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.