Team USA got off to a flying start in the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage 2016 series with a convincing victory on home turf in Wellington, Florida yesterday. From a field of six nations they finished more than 25 percentage points ahead of their nearest rivals from Canada, while Spain lined up third ahead of Denmark in fourth, Costa Rica in fifth and Australia in sixth place.
“I'm extremely proud that the US won this Nations Cup again this year”, Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover said afterwards. “Even more importantly, I was hoping for our riders to achieve personal bests and to do better than they have been doing this season, and with each class grow more confident as we head towards Europe and the Olympics. That's what I'm seeing from the riders both in this Nations Cup and the riders who were so wonderful in the FEI Grand Prix CDI 3*. I couldn't be more proud of all of them!"
This is the first official FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage series, following three seasons of development and polishing. The season will continue with legs at Odense (DEN) and Compiegne (FRA) in May, followed by Rotterdam (NED) in June and Falsterbo (SWE), Aachen (GER) and Hickstead (GBR) in July.
The FEI Nations Cup™ format permits teams composing both Big and Small Tour combinations, with Big Tour combinations receiving a 1.5% bonus to their scores. Spain and Costa Rice were represented by Small Tour combinations at the Wellington fixture while Australia, Canada and USA fielded Big Tour partnerships. Denmark entered a mixed team of Small and Big Tour riders and horses.
America’s Laura Graves was the stand-out performer when posting personal best results in both Wednesday’s Grand Prix and again in Thursday’s Grand Prix Special.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled”, Graves said after the two days of competition. “It’s been a long season for us, and this is going to be a long competition (the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage series). I’ll be pleased to take him home and give him a break before we go try to be even better in Europe”, Graves said of her 14-year-old Dutch-bred Verdades after firmly securing the US victory when posting 78.294 in the Special which rose to 79.794 with the added 1.5 percent bonus points.
US team-mate, Kasey Perry-Glass also recorded a personal best with the 13-year-old gelding Goerklintgaards Dublet.
“I was really proud of Dublet”, Perry-Glass said. “Yesterday was a little bit lacking expression, but I was able to push him harder today and really working towards going for it. I think that I have to remind myself that this is his first year (at this level of the sport), and he's letting me have a conversation with him in the ring and push him more. I just want to keep him happy, and that's my biggest goal.”
Team USA pathfinders Arlene Page and Woodstock underpinned a really strong season with more solid scores. “We didn't have a personal best here, but we've had two personal bests through the season and I'm proud of that”, Page said.
Shelly Francis and Doktor have enjoyed a thoroughly consistent series of top placings this season, but had what she described as “a blank moment” in the Special yesterday. “Otherwise it was still a great week”, she said, “and it's exciting that we get to be in first place and go up there and get that medal!"
Canada’s Belinda Trussell praised the creation and development of the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage concept. “We're thrilled to be second again and in great company. It's wonderful to have a CDIO in North America with as many countries that are involved here. It is a gift that we have it in our continent and haven't had that in the past. It's developing each year and getting stronger, and that's exciting. My team was great, and we felt proud to have four Grand Prix horses on the team. It was a really good Nations' Cup for us", she said.
She was joined on the second step of the prize-giving podium by team-mates Jacqueline Brooks (D Niro), Megan Lane (Caravella) and Karen Pavicic (Don Daiquiri).
Juan Matute Jr led Spain to third place with victory in the Small Tour Intermediate I. He was joined in the Spanish side by Juan Antonio Jimenez Cobo (Lanzado de Ymas), Pablo Gomez Molina (Lanzado de Ymas) and Alfonso Jesus Ramirez Benitez (Legacy’s Cosmico).
“My team and I are thrilled with the results. We managed to get on the podium which was always the goal," he said. "As for Dhannie (his horse Dhannie Ymas) and I, I'm very pleased with the results. It's been a great season and this week has been a great highlight for us. A 74.5% is a great score and a personal best for us. I'm super pleased and looking forward to the future!”
Results: 1, USA, 454.698 - Verdades (Laura Graves), Doktor (Shelly Francis), Woodstock (Arlene Page), Goerklintgaards Dublet (Kasey Perry-Glass); 2, Canada, 428.708 - D Niro (Jacqueline Brooks), Caravella (Megan Lane), Don Daiquiri (Karen Pavicic), Anton (Belinda Trussell); 3, Spain, 414.421 - Lanzado de ymas (Pablo Gomez Molina), Elevado (Juan Antonio Jimenez Cobo), Dhannie Ymas (Juan Matute Guimon), Legacy’s Cosmico (Alfonso Jesus Ramirez Benitez); 4, Denmark, 408.465 - My Lady (Mikala Munter Gundersen), Roberto (Signe Kirk Kristiansen), Quascai Nexen (Lars Petersen), Pikk Elena Hu (Rikke Poulsen); 5, Costa Rica, 391.028 - Westgaardens Vivi Light (Michelle Batalla), Amorino (Anne Marie Egerstrom), Bello Oriente (Christer Egerstrom); 6, Australia, 259.497 - Leonardo (Kim Gentry), Von Primaire (Kelly Lane), Cadenza (Ilse Schwarz).
Detailed results are available here: www.globaldressagefestival.com.
More information about the FEI Nations Cup™ 2016 Dressage series can be found here.