Barcelona, Spain - The Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team was in top form today as it secured a spot in the final round of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final for the first time in the season-closer's three year history. Led by Chef d'Equipe Robert Ridland, the team of Lucy Davis, Lauren Hough, Laura Kraut, and Beezie Madden finished the first round of the prestigious competition on nine faults, tying for fourth place with Great Britain. As part of the top eight teams from the first round, the U.S. team will compete in Saturday's final round.
Setting the U.S. off to a strong start was Kraut (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) and the Evita Group's Nouvelle, a 2004 KWPN mare. Kraut and Nouvelle were one of only 13 combinations in the 76-horse field to leave all the rails up, but added one time penalty to their total. Next to go was Davis (Los Angeles, Calif.), who piloted Barron, a 2004 Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Old Oak Farm, to a 12-fault total. The pair had rails down at fences two, five, and 12B, but was in the elite group to finish within the time allowed of 81 seconds. Hough (Wellington, Fla.) and The Ohlala Group's Ohlala, a 2004 Swedish Warmblood mare, were next for the U.S. to take on the Santiago Varela-designed course. Displaying their signature speed, the pair finished well inside the time, but had the top rail down at fence five. Anchoring the U.S. team was Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.) and Abigail Wexner's Cortes 'C', a 2002 Belgium Warmblood gelding. With just a rail down at fence eight, the pair ensured the team's berth to the final round.
Belgium won the first round on five faults, followed by Germany and Sweden, who tied for second on eight faults. Great Britain, The Netherlands, Ireland, and Switzerland also secured spots in the final round.
Competition for the Nations Cup title gets underway on Saturday at 2:45 p.m. ET and can be viewed live on FEITV.org.