Sure, the United States didn’t qualify for the second round of the Furusiyya Nations Cup Final. But they made the most of the situation anyway, winning the Furusiyya Consolation Final.
After both the U.S. and Swiss teams finished on a score of 4 faults today, Sept. 28, each each sent three riders forward to take turns jumping off for the top prize, with all three scores to count.
The first two Swiss combinations Beat Mändli (Croesus) and Paul Estermann (Castlefield Eclipse) picked up a rail apiece. Leadoff U.S. rider Beezie Madden laid down a clear on Simon, but Lucy Davis ran into trouble on Barron and ticked two rails and a time fault. Swiss Olympic champion Steve Guerdat turned on the speed on Nasa, picking up 8 along the way. McLain Ward and Rothchild went in a 6-fault buffer, and a tight time allowed keeping from a super conservative trip.
He and Rothchild didn’t dally much, but logged 2 time faults as he left the jumps in the cups, giving the U.S. the win.
“Obviously we’re very excited to win, but to be honest we were hoping we were going to be on this podium tomorrow,” said U.S. Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland.
Ridland joked that he planned for the jump-off for the top spot against Switzerland as it would make for better television.
Pius Schwizer (Toulago) joined Mändli, Estermann and Guerdat for the second spot. Saudia Arabia nearly spoiled a U.S. victory, with the team of Ramzy Al Duhami (Al Capone), HRH Abdullah bin Minteb (Davos), HH Prince Faisal Al Shalan (Talan) and Kamal Abdullah Bahamdan (Noblesse des Tess) finishing on 6 to take third.
The biggest surprise came in Round 1, when Madden served as the drop score of 6 when Simon stopped at a vertical. She was very surprised at her FEI World Cup Champion partner’s mistake.
“I think he made a big effort at the jump before that vertical and got a touch behind me in the turn,” she said. “He wasn’t clued in enough on that fence. Like I said, it was the last thing I’d expected. It rattled him for sure at the beginning, but he felt good at the end of the round.”
In the first round Ward and Davis logged clear rounds today. Katie Dinan, taking the spot Reed Kessler had in Round 1, ticked a rail at Fence 2 on Nougat du Vallet.
“I was a little frustrated,” said Dinan. “I don’t think it was a hard jump for that horse. I’m happy we held it together for the rest. I’m happy I was able to contribute a 4-fault score to the team, luckily my teammates were great today.”
The hero of the day, Ward, found solace in earning glory for Team USA, and a nice payday.
“Yesterday was very frustrating,” he said. “I’m proud to be part of the team. I’m melancholy. Even though I am proud of our rounds and how we rallied, it took a little strength. It isn’t always going to go the way we expect, and that is the beauty of the sport, the tug and the back and forth. To have the ability to come back and put in a better performance it is why we do it, and why you all come to watch.”
Around The Showgrounds
•Reed Kessler had to endure a little ribbing when a little something was lost in translation. The Spanish announcer at the press conference asked “McLain and Reed, how does it feel to be on a team with all those ladies?” After she and the room finished laughing, she brushed off the misunderstanding and took it in stride.
•Swedish Rider Angelica Augustsson endured a scary moment when her Mic Mac du Tillard stood up on the way to a vertical, and refused to go forward. He kept rearing for a full minute or so, well after the pair was rung out. Augusston took her time, finessing him through to get him calm. Check out a gallery of the action.
•Japan’s team was bookended by clear rounds, scored by Taizo Sugitani (Avenzio 3) and Eiken Sato (Fine Fleur du Marais). They finished in a tie for eighth with Qatar.
•Ridland joked that he’s pleased to have won the team competition with the most prize money in history (€300,000) but it’s a title he’ll only hold for about 24 hours as tomorrow’s competition awards a staggering €1,500,000. There’s another €200,000 split between everyone who jumps clear rounds yesterday or tomorrow’s Nations Cup Final, so Madden will get a cut of that.
For lots more from the Furusiyya Nations Cup Final and CSIO Barcelona, check out the Chronicle’s Barcelona CSIO page. Look for a detailed report and analysis in the Oct. 14 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse. You can find results from today’s class at the official Barcelona CSIO website.