Team USA 1 reigned supreme at the second leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage 2015 pilot series in Wellington, Florida yesterday. The side of Olivia LaGoy-Weltz (Rassing’s Lonoir), Kimberly Herslow (Rosmarin), Allison Brock (Rosevelt) and Laura Graves (Verdades) established the advantage on Wednesday and stood firm to finish well ahead of the second-placed Canada 1 Team yesterday evening, while Canada 2 slotted into third. Teams consisted of both Big Tour and Small Tour partnerships, and a total of eight sides from six nations lined out. However Australia, Colombia and Guatemala did not field Big Tour competitors and therefore did not earn an official finishing spot. Team USA 2 claimed fourth place ahead of Germany in fifth.
USA 1 got off to a great start after Wednesday’s FEI Prix St Georges and FEI Grand Prix classes in which all four riders scored over 70 percent, and that put US Chef d’Equipe, Robert Dover, in a very positive mood. “I’m thrilled with all of our American riders” he said on Wednesday evening, “they came in to this arena to do a job and they will continue to do that job tomorrow and through the rest of this competition and show why America is not only superior to any other country in our hemisphere, but is ready to be ranked amongst the best nations in the world!”
USA 1 pathfinder, LaGoy Weltz, led the way with an expressive performance from Rassing’s Lonoir in the Prix St George to earn a mark of 71.605 and Herslow followed with a mark of 73.684 with Rosmarin. The intense heat didn’t suit her horse - “it’s hard to make yourself really push for the max in that” she said. However she was delighted with her result. “Riding with everyone today was awesome because I know I’m on a solid team and they all have great horses who have proven themselves throughout this season and you couldn’t ask for more” she pointed out.
There was a bonus 1.5 percent on offer in the Grand Prix which brought Allison Brock’s score with Rosevelt to 73.700, and she was pleased with how her horse coped with the pressure. “He was for the most part really honest and he went for it, he was with me and he handled it very well” she said afterwards. Graves and Verdades were always expected to be the star billing, and lived up to expectations when posting a total of 75.920. This pair, who made a huge impact at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy, France last summer have been in superb form on the Wellington circuit in recent months and are putting in their final preparations for the Reem Acra FEI World Cup™ Final in Las Vegas which kicks off in just over two weeks’ time.
Graves wasn’t the least bit fazed by filling the anchor role - “I like going last” she said. “It does usually put pressure on the anchor to put in a good performance, but I was so fortunate to have three awesome rides go before me.....I was in a really great position, whether I rode first or last I didn’t feel like I was carrying more than my own weight” she insisted.
USA 1 carried a score of 223.304 into yesterday’s decider, with Canada 1 less than seven marks adrift and USA 2 another seven marks further behind but stalked closely by Canada 2 and just over a point ahead of Team Germany in fifth place.
Yesterday the Small Tour combinations performed the FEI Intermediaire 1 while Big Tour partnerships rode the FEI Grand Grand Prix Special, and there was a 1.5 percent bonus on offer again to the Big Tour combinations. Thoroughly consistent, all four members of USA 1 team again produced scores above 70 percent, and Kimberley Herslow’s 76.158 in the Intermediaire 1 was a personal best. Brock also posted a personal best in the Special with a mark of 74.255 percent despite a few glitches in the one-tempi changes, while Dover’s confidence in his side was further underpinned by victory in the Special for Graves and Verdades who scored 75.882.
“I love getting goosebumps when I watch rides, and I got them today from this team” the winning Chef d’Equipe said afterwards. “I feel not only extremely confident moving towards the Pan American Games and the European tour we are about to go on, but also on our way to Rio (Olympic Games 2016) with more and more depth in America in this sport than we have ever seen before”.
The FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage pilot series is all about encouraging the development of up-and-coming horse-and-rider combinations through exposure to top competition, and winning team member, LaGoy-Weltz who rode the Small Tour tests, admitted that she has learned a great deal this week. Her horse, Rassing’s Lonoir, was excitable at times during his tests. “This has been a tremendous learning experience for us and we were able to harness that energy and move on in the test, which is about being composed and riding through it. You also get the opportunity to support your team-mates and receive that support in return” she commented.
Herslow said she possibly found her horse’s “fifth gear” during her flawless performance. “Robert (Dover) and Debbie (McDonald) really revved me up the right way. We needed that expression in the ring and to be able to carry it in there, and we really rocked it!” she said.
Graves put the strong US performance into context. “It’s always great to be able to meet and become close with riders I may not have known as well before, and it makes you really excited for where we’re going on this team in this country” she said. “I hope that we can take this gold medal winning streak global very soon!”
USA 1 finished over 14 points ahead of Canada 1’s Diane Creech (Robbie), Chris von Martels (Zilverstar), Megan Lane (Caravella) and Belinda Trussell (Anton) in runner-up spot, while Canada 2s Tina Irwin (Fancy That), Christilot Boylen (Donatella 79), Shannon Dueck (Cantaris) and Jill Irving (Degas 12) were another 14 points adrift. There was no drop score for the fourth-place USA 2 team as there were only three team members - Christophe Hickey (Ronaldo), Kasey Perry (Goeklintgaards Dublet) and Jill Irving (Degas 12). Their total of 424.221 left them just off the podium but with more than a three-point advantage over Germany’s Neve Myburgh (Bon Chance), Michael Klimke (Djamba Djokiba), Patricia Koschel (Leuchtfeuer DE) and Christoph Koschel (Tiesto) in fifth place.
1. USA 1, 452.999: Rassing's Lonoir (Olivia LaGoy-Weltz) 142.973, Rosmarin (Kimberly Herslow) 149.842, Rosevelt (Allison Brock0 149.455, Verdades (Laura Graves) 153.302.
2. Canada 1, 438.966: Robbie W (Diane Creech) 144.342, Zilverstar (Chris von Martels) 148.211, Caravella (Megan Lane) 144.528, Anton (Belinda Trussell) 146.413.
3. Canada 2, 424.774: Fancy That (Tina Irwin) 138.579, Donatella 79 (Christilot Boylen) 144.711, Cantaris (Shannon Dueck) 140.921, Degas 12 (Jill Irving) 139.051.
4. USA 2, 424.221: Ronaldo (Christopher Hickey) 141.473, Goerklintgaards Dublet (Kasey Perry) 144.895, Mane Stream Hotmail (Catherine Haddad-Staller) 137.853.
5. Germany, 420.509: Bon Chance (Neve Myburgh) 138.290, Djamba Djokiba (Michael Klimke) 140.658, Leuchtfeuer DE (Patricia Koschel) 137.132, Tiesto (Christoph Koschel) 141.561.
Detailed result here
Facts and Figures:
- Wellington in Florida, USA presented the second leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage 2015 pilot series.
8 teams from 6 nations participated - Australia, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Guatemala and USA.
Only five were competing for points in the FEI Nations Cup™ Dressage 2015 pilot series.
The team scores were accumulated in both Big Tour and Small Tour competitions, including Prix St George, Intermediaire 1, Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special.
The next leg of the series will take place at CDIO5* Rotterdam (NED) from 17-21 June.
The remaining three legs will be staged at CDIO5* Hagen (GER), CDIO5* Falsterbo (SWE) and CDIO3* Hickstead in July.