Wellington, Fla.—Mar. 1
Two weeks ago to the day, Beezie Madden, Margie Engle, Laura Kraut and Jessica Springsteen made a pact following their Longines Nations Cup of the United States of America win at the Palm Beach Masters in Wellington.
The four riders, and Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, agreed to maintain a united front in the celebratory battle of champagne, choosing to soak their second- and third-place competitors rather than each other.
On Saturday night at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, the less experienced team of Andy Kocher, Lucas Porter, Brian Moggre and Adrienne Sternlicht somehow missed that memo after they swept the CSIO4* $150,000 Nations Cup.
They may not have won the battle of champagne, but Team USA dominated in the ring and ended the night fault-free.
“It still amazes me that basically, the three of you [Kocher, Moggre and Porter]—this was your Nations Cup debut,” said Ridland. “Everybody was having their debut tonight until they came to the anchor rider, our veteran anchor rider [Sternlicht]. It was really exciting to be able to do that; it was fun, actually, the last two weeks with the veteran team. This team was chosen right down the ranking list of the applicants. To see them do that tonight was just amazing.”
Kocher and the 9-year-old Oldenburg gelding Squirt Gun were first in the ring for the USA. They acquired a single time fault in Round 1 and jumped clean in Round 2.
“He’s by far the best horse that I have at the moment,” said Kocher. “He has the most clear rounds, he’s fast. My other ones are all really developing. Getting there, but they’re a little further away. So he was my only choice.”
Next in the order, Porter and the 13-year-old Zangersheide stallion C Hunter jumped a clean Round 1 but finished on 4 faults in Round 2.
“I was really thankful to be a part of the team,” said Porter. “I really sort of aimed at this Nations Cup since the start of the season here in Florida. I thought my horse jumped two great rounds here tonight. He jumped a really amazing first round, and then I thought he jumped really well again in the second round. I was a bit unlucky with my fault, but I’m really happy with him. We’ve come a long way together. I look forward to what the future holds with him.”
Moggre and the 11-year-old Westphalian gelding MTM Vivre Le Reve were the USA’s penultimate combination, and the sole to jump double clear rounds.
“It’s quite a surreal feeling,” said Moggre. “I was super happy to be a part of the team over at the Palm Beach Masters,” where he was the reserve rider. “That was great to be included and to see what goes into it. To be on the team here and to jump really meant a lot. Everybody wants to jump clear their first time on the team, so for my horse to make that happen for me, I couldn’t be more thankful.”
Anchor rider Sternlicht rode the 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare Just A Gamble. They jumped clean in Round 1 and didn’t have to jump Round 2 due to the USA’s indisputable lead on the scorecard.
“This is my actually third Nations Cup in a row on this team,” said Sternlicht. “I’m very thankful for my teammates, who made it very easy for me. I think we’re a young team but a lot of strong riders who have had consistencies leading up to this event. I think that was showcased in their awesome rides.”
Ireland (Darragh Kenny, Billy Twomey, David Blake and Paul O’Shea) finished second on 5 faults. Australia (Amy Graham, Hillary Scott, Scott Keach and Rowan Willis) took third place with 17 faults.
Get to know Team USA’s horses:
MTM Vivre Le Reve, The Rockstar
“MTM Vive Le Reve is my top horse at the moment,” said Moggre. “I’ve had him about four years; I do him in all of the grand prixs. He’s a horse I know like the back of my hand.” (Go Behind The Stall Door with “Erkel.”)
C Hunter, The Family Member
“C Hunter is my first horse as well,” said Porter. “He’s a really special horse to me and our family; we’ve had him three years now. We’ve really grown together and jumped some nice rounds together. We’ve had some mistakes along the way, but we’ve really grown to be a partnership. I hope we can have more great results like this.”
Just A Gamble, The Rising Star
“Just A Gamble is a mare that I’ve had about a year,” said Sternlicht. “It took me a while to get to know her. Towards the end of last year, I think our partnership really started to solidify. She’s been very consistent. I would say that she ranks—and my dad [Barry Sternlicht] loves to argue with me about this—but I would say that she’s probably my second or third horse. She’s been an unbelievable support system with my top mare Cristalline just coming back.
“I’m very, very grateful to have her,” Sternlicht added. “She’s been unbelievable and kept me in the big classes. I feel like she has so much depth to her. She’s very hot; we joke that she could run the Kentucky Derby after tonight’s Nations Cup. So, I see a huge future for her in the sport. I hope to jump her on more Nations Cup teams and maybe even a championship team.”
Squirt Gun, The Horse Of A Lifetime
“We bought him on a buying trip in Germany with the Hatfields—Eye Candy Jumpers—a sponsor for me, so I’m lucky to have them,” said Kocher. “[Squirt Gun] was doing low schooling, meter classes; I brought him here to WEF last year. I fell off him in the high schoolings my first time. He just jumped really high, landed, bucked me off in the mud. It was one of those rainy days. It was a great moment.
“It’d be cool if we could put the photos from tonight and that and say, ‘Look what 18 months can do,’ ” Kocher added. “He’s the best horse I’ve ever had so far in my career. I’m not saying that I do everything right with him, because I probably don’t, but he seems to put up with me. He lets me be long, be short; he jumps anything. We know each other well. I just hope that I can plan his career so that I can keep him going a long time. He’s only 9, so I’m hoping he lasts long.”