Traveling in Europe is a time-honored tradition for college students. But Lucy Davis isn’t backpacking with a Eurorail pass. She’s doing it a little bit differently, traveling with the U.S. Equestrian Team and riding alongside her childhood idols.
And at the Rotterdam CSIO today (the Netherlands), she partnered with team veterans Lauren Hough, Laura Kraut and Beezie Madden—all with Olympic and World Championship appearances to their credit—to take a nail-biting second place in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup. The German team beat them by just 1 point. (See full results.)
When asked if he was surprised by the American team’s performance, German Chef d’Equipe Otto Becker said, “No! I know the American team, and they are very good riders. They really tried to win today. We all had to give everything, and I’m happy we could do it in the end. We didn't win it until Ludger [Beerbaum] crossed the finish line.”
Davis, 20, might have been the baby of the team, but she led the charge by riding her Barron to an impressive double-clean performance. It was one of just three such scores of the day over a testing course. For her efforts, Davis, a member of the class of 2015 at Stanford University (Calif.), earned the Furusiyya Rider of the Day award over the star-studded field.
“Two riders in our opinion both won,” said judge Emile Hendrix. “We had to choose between [Germany’s] Philipp Weishaupt, with harmony and balance and everything. But the young person on the American team, Lucy Davis, did a tremendous job with her horse Barron. She was great today, and ladies first, so she gets the rider of the day award today.”
“I rode with three women who I’ve looked up to since I started riding, so to win this award among them and the Germans and all the riders here is a huge honor and very inspiring,” said Davis. “I definitely think I have a great partner in Barron, and I wouldn’t have this award without him. I’ve had so much fun here this week. The atmosphere is amazing, and the ring is incredible. You really feel like you’re part of something big. It’s been humbling and inspiring.”
The all-women team of the United States stood proud as the lone females in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup prize-giving ceremony. “Girl power!” Davis quipped.
The U.S. team stood in second place after Round 1, with just 4 faults. Hough had been the drop score in Round 1 with two rails, while Davis and Madden jumped clean. Kraut and Cedric posted 4 faults with a foot in the water.
In Round 2, Hough left all the rails in the cups but was just a shade slow for 1 time fault. Davis turned in a clean round No. 2, but Madden and Cortes ‘C’ had two rails. That put the U.S total at 5 faults.
Germany had led after Round 1 with 2 time faults. Christian Ahlmann and Philipp Weishaupt notched clear rounds, but Hans-Dieter Dreher put up 9 faults for a drop score. German anchor Ludger Beerbaum had the weight of the world on his shoulders—one rail and the U.S would win. He rode the 10-year-old Holsteiner mare Chiara to an impeccably judged round with no rails but 2 time faults to affirm German victory by just 1 point.
"I knew I could have 2 [time faults], but going to the last fence I suddenly thought 'I hope I don’t have 3 because otherwise we might have to go into a jump-off, and who knows what could happen then!” Beerbaum said.
“The time allowed was really hard to stay within, and if you did, it was hard to leave the jumps up. I think that it was a fantastic course for a Nations Cup,” said Kraut.
Cedric jumped out of his skin for Kraut but caused some gasps in Round 1. His foot in the water came because he spooked upon landing from the jump before the water. “It was nothing to do with the water jump. At fence 10, the vertical before the water, he jumped well, but on the backside of that were two standards that had Longines clocks in them, and there was a bit of a glare on them,” Kraut said.
“I think he saw that when he was in the air over the vertical, so when he landed he ran sideways left. In the first round, I almost didn’t even get to the water. I was lucky to get over it at all. In the second round, he did it again, but I knew it was coming, so I was able to get him somewhere near it. He jumped the water beautifully the second round, and he would have jumped it well the first round if I’d been anywhere near it,” she continued.
Kraut enjoyed having Davis on the team, as part of Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland’s strategy to put two younger, less experienced riders on Nations Cups teams along with three veterans. Young rider Saer Coulter was also named to the Rotterdam team and was the alternate. “I think it’s vital to the future in our country because we don’t have the opportunity to jump in many Nations Cups. So, I think it’s great to get these young riders on these teams. And Lucy was the star today!” Kraut said.
The Germans were thrilled to pull off the win, since they’re behind in qualifying for the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona after scratching from the St. Gallen (Switzerland) Nations Cup due to extremely wet footing. "For sure we were 100 percent focused on today’s Nations Cup,” said Beerbaum. “We brought a very strong team because we knew after St Gallen that we needed to win the most points."
The U.S. team’s performance at Rotterdam didn’t count for points in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup series; the United States is already qualified for the Final thanks to their performances at qualifiers in Wellington, Fla., and Spruce Meadows (Alberta).