With plenty of cheering from their many supporters, Team Canada jumped to the top of the podium in the $75,000 Nations Cup CSIO**** tonight, March 5. With only two rails and a time fault between them, Canada beat out an impressive Mexican squad, with Ireland taking third. The United States finished fourth, with Kent Farrington and United scoring the single faultless round.
This marks the fifth time in nine years that Canada has won the Nations Cup in Wellington, Fla., held in conjunction with the Winter Equestrian Festival.
Yann Candele on Pitareusa, Beth Underhill on Top Gun, Mac Cone on Ole and Eric Lamaze on Ronaldo rounded out the seasoned Canadian squad. Candele, Underhill and Lamaze managed clear rounds the first go around Anthony D’Ambrosio’s course, with Cone picking up 4 faults.
“There was a lot to the course,” said Underhill. “There was a long distance between the [3.90 meter-wide open water] to the [1.55-meter vertical]. Then a triple bar right before the triple combination—that took a lot out of the horses.”
Canada’s record not withstanding, clean and clear rounds were hard to come by, with only Jaime Azarraga on Celcius joining the Canadians and Farrington. But Ashlee Bond on Apache, Venezuelan Pablo Barrios aboard G&C Blanche Z and Argentine Jorge Zamudio on Lord Spezi each incurred just a single time fault.
By the time the second round came around, the 15-fence course had clearly taken a toll on many of the horses, and rails started falling more readily. But not for the Mexican riders. That team, seated third after the first round with a score of 9, saw Antonio Chedraui aboard the scopey Don Porfirio and Nicolas Pizarro on Crossing Jordan jump double clear, to the excitement of their enthusiastic fans. Anchor rider Azcarraga came back to tick a single rail to clinch silver.
“There’s a lot of momentum in Mexico,” said Chef d’Equipe Norman Dello Joio. “Everybody seems to be trying to pull together. We’re looking forward to the next two or three years and keep pulling ourselves up higher. We didn’t want to jump all of our horses that we think are contenders for the WEG, because we’re trying to save them and maintain them. But we also wanted to make a little bit of a statement that we’re here and we’re serious and we’re trying our hardest.”
With the top U.S. horses focused on the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s Show Jumping World Equestrian Games Trials, the U.S. fielded a team of up-and-comers, with the exception of veteran pair Lauren Hough and Casadora.
U.S. Chef d’Equipe George Morris congratulated the teams on the podium and explained that though the competition was an important world-class event, the plan wasn’t to field the strongest team in the country.
“Our big focus is the [World Equestrian Games Show Jumping Selection] Trials, and the timing is off,” he said. “We need to produce in the Nations Cup League in Europe and at the World Equestrian Games.”
McLain Ward and new partner Amarosa posted the drop score of 12 faults in the first round and didn’t return for the second go.
Hough scored 4 faults in the first round, then suffered an unexpected refusal in the second, to a very tall white gate heading into a boisterous crowd. She finished the round with 10. Bond faulted twice in the second round, as did United, leaving the U.S. with 31 faults.
Ireland marked no clears, but plenty of consistent performances, with veteran team riders Kevin Babington and Souvenir scoring 9 and 8 and Richard Moloney and Brooke Van De Zuuthoeve earning 5 in Round 1. Darragh Kenny and Obelix and Shane Sweetnam and Rolette each marked 4 per round, edging ahead of the U.S. team to finish with 29.
Last to go over the course, Lamaze returned with two rails in hand, but he didn’t need them, only scoring a single time fault.
“He felt really good, better than in the first round,” said Lamaze of Ronaldo. “He was a little bit spooky the first time. It’s a horse that the Fleishhackers and Ashland Farms have owned for quite some time now, so I know him really well. I’ve never ridden him in a Nations Cup before, but it was a great start.”
“We try hard for this event, and it’s in large part the highlight of the winter for us,” said Canadian Chef d’Equipe Terrance Millar. “We have a lot of fans that come down from Canada just for this event, and we always try to put our best foot forward. We had four great riders on the field tonight.”
$75,000 FEI Nations Cup CSIO****
Mac Cone/Ole 4
Yann Candele/Pitareusa 0/0
Beth Underhill/Top Gun 0/4
Eric Lamaze/Ronaldo 0/1
Antonio Chedraui/Don Porfirio 5/0
Patricio Pasqual/Adriano M 20
Nicolas Pizarro/Crossing Jordan 4/0
Jaime Azcarraga/Celcius 0/4
Kevin Babington/Souvenir 9/8
Richard Moloney/Brooke Van De Zuuthoeve 5
Darragh Kenney/Obelix 4/4
Shane Sweetnam/Rolette 4/4
Lauren Hough/Casadora 4/10
Ashlee Bond/Apache 1/8
Kent Farrington/United 0/8
McLain Ward/Amarosa 12
Andre Theme/Antares F 4/8
Alexander Hufenstuhl/Champi 10/4
Johannes Ehning/Salvador 12/8
Holger Hetzel/Lanzarote E
Andres Rodriguez/Larkanaro 13/8
Juan Ortiz/For Rosa’s Pleasure E
Loisse Garcia/G&C Napolean 16/14
Pablo Barrios/G&C Blanche Z 1/4
Manuel Torres/Chambucanero 29
John Perez/Twister 5/16
Daniel Bluman/Fatalis Fatum 14/12
Carlos Lopez/Penny Lane 4/VW
Did not return for Round 2
8. Argentina 30
Ramiro Quintana/Q’s Charm 4
Frederico Sztyrle/Asgard 47 25
Jorge Zamudio/Lord Spezi 1
Max Amaya/Ademain 32
9. New Zealand 39
Sharn Wordley/Andiamo Pyon 25
Kirk Webby/La Rocco Jun 5
10. Denmark 49
Emilie Martinsen/VDL Al Cantino 5
Jesper Brunander/Tadonia 36
Henrik Gundersen/Miss Magic 8
11. Brazil 51
Eduardo De Sousa/Accolino 20
Paulo Santana.Taloubet 13
Gustavo El Jaick/Crocodile Z 18
Karina Johannpeter/SRF Dragonfly Withdrawn