Friday, May. 24, 2024

Spencer Smith Completes U.S. Clean Sweep In Hollow Creek Farm Nations Cups

Wellington, Fla.—March 1  

After the Young Rider team put in three clear rounds in the first round of the Hollow Creek Farm Young Rider Nations Cup on Feb. 28, they were sitting in the lead. But suspense built when the competition was postponed due to intense rainfall. They were all supposed to jump Round 2 that evening, but the rain delayed it until the next morning.

And when Shawn Casady, Spencer Smith, Chloe Reid and Michael Hughes returned for the second round, it looked like the standings could be shuffled.

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Wellington, Fla.—March 1  

After the Young Rider team put in three clear rounds in the first round of the Hollow Creek Farm Young Rider Nations Cup on Feb. 28, they were sitting in the lead. But suspense built when the competition was postponed due to intense rainfall. They were all supposed to jump Round 2 that evening, but the rain delayed it until the next morning.

And when Shawn Casady, Spencer Smith, Chloe Reid and Michael Hughes returned for the second round, it looked like the standings could be shuffled.

Reid took down a rail on Athena, as did Casady on Twister, bringing anchor rider Michael Hughes back into the game. Hughes on Luxina and Smith on IV Ever picked up the momentum again with two clear rounds, springing their team to a major win, with just a total of 4 faults after the lowest score was dropped for each round.

The four teammates completed a clean U.S. sweep of the four Nations Cup competitions offered on Week 8 of the Winter Equestrian Festival. The high performance riders claimed victory in the $100,000 FEI Nations Cup on the evening of Feb. 27, and the U.S. teams in the Hollow Creek Farm Children’s and Junior Nations Cups had also prevailed. It was a banner weekend for U.S. riders both young and old.

“Winning as a team is unbelievable,” said Reid, 18, of Washington D.C. “Yesterday I came out of the ring and Shawn gave me a big high five, and that was all worth it! I think everyone did a really good job. I did the junior competition last year and we got second, so every year [Athena] comes out and gives me all she has. I love her.”

Smith, 18, of Wellington, Fla., said, “I thought the course was a really good test of everybody’s consistency, and today it worked out for us.” Smith not only put in two crucial clear rounds to help the U.S. team take victory, but he also topped the Young Rider Grand Prix individual competition with the fastest clean second round. It made for a clean sweep of the weekend for Smith, who won the 2014 Pessoa/USEF Medal Finals (Pa.), since he also won the welcome class earlier in the week. 

He’s only had the ride on Wyndmont’s IV Ever since January and has only done four jump-offs with him, but “he’s a really tidy horse for his [large] size,” Smith said.

Hughes, Allendale, N.J., added, “It’s amazing to be on a team like this; it’s so different than being on Young Riders.” He rode Luxina, a horse he’s been piloting for five years and knows well.

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Team coach DiAnn Langer was extremely pleased with the results. “It’s been a great week all the way through. I personally want to thank Hollow Creek for their vision and commitment to developing riders. Without them, this might not even be possible. The teams I thought were just the best of the best. We went through quite a process to get to the teams; we look at a lot of results. They all came through; I was so excited, very pleased.”

Juniors Follow Suit

In the Junior section of the Hollow Creek Farm Nations Cup series, the U.S. team of Lucas Porter (Phineas), Kelli Cruciotti (Chamonix H), Lauren Fischer (Offenbach du Granit) and Madison Goetzmann (Wrigley) continued the U.S. winning streak, finishing with an impressive total of 1 fault.

Goetzmann had a clear first round and dropped a rail in the second, which was actually a pleasant surprise considering she’d taken the ride on Wrigley, owned by John Madden Sales, just a month before. “She’s a great horse; she has a huge heart, she has not let me down,” said Goetzmann, 14, of Skaneateles, N.Y. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.”

Likewise, Lauren Fischer has been getting to know her mount, Offenbach du Granit, after she bought him last year. But the two gained experience on teams throughout the year, including at the North American Young Rider Championships (Ky.), giving the pair more confidence heading into the Nations Cup.

“He’s taken me through my first junior grand prix and I couldn’t ask for a more special horse than him,” said Fischer, 16, of Bedford Hills, N.Y. “I’ve also done the Prix de States and Young Riders. I think riding on a team is just the best thing you can possibly do to prepare yourself for real Nations Cup classes. And you also get to make great friends and really learn about how the team works and what it really takes to be on the top level.”

Lucas Porter, 17, of Wellington, Fla., weighed in on the challenges the Nations Cup course presented—it helped that he’s got a couple years of showing experience on his mount Phineas—as well as the challenges of riding on a team.

“The pressure of the team and the pressure to put in two clear rounds is very different from individual riding because not only have you not only have your team, your barn, but you also have three other people that are counting on you, so it’s an for sure an experience that each young rider have,” he said. “I thought the course was really nice for a Nations Cup. The seven or eight strides to the triple combination was tricky because I didn’t want to get too flat in seven into the triple, so for my small-strided horse, I decided to do eight. There’s a tree right after the triple that if you went around, you were most likely going to have time faults, so it was the tight turns that I was really careful planning.”

Cruciotti, 17, of Elizabeth, Colo., added: “It’s an experience that I think the more you do, the more comfortable you get with it. But it’s still a little nerve-wracking going in!”

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Rookie Children’s Team Caps Off Blue Streak

Beginner’s luck plus the confidence of the first two Nations Cup wins gave the children’s team a boost to take the top spot as well.

“It feels great to win especially because I just got [Merlin], and [we’ve had] newfound success already,” said Catalina Peralta, 11, of Geneva, Fla. “I have been on a team before, pony jumper finals, but it feels great.”

Charlie Jacobs, 14, Boston, echoed the sentiment. “It feels pretty great to win; I think there were some pretty amazing rounds ridden by the other teams,” he said. “My horse Campesino V] started in the children’s [jumpers] and moved up this year. I was absolutely over the moon when I  heard I was on this team; I’m so happy to be here.”

Sheer Levitin, 13, of Del Ray Beach, Fla., and Yasmin Rizvi, 14 of Greenwich, Conn., rounded out the winning team.

For rull results, click here.



 

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