Team USA Keep Europeans at Bay in Furusiyya Qualifier at Hickstead

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 Beezie Madden and Cortes C clinched victory for the USA at the seventh leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Europe Division 1 series at Hickstead (GBR) today.  Photo: FEI/Jon Stroud.
Beezie Madden and Cortes C clinched victory for the USA at the seventh leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Europe Division 1 series at Hickstead (GBR) today. Photo: FEI/Jon Stroud.

Team USA clinched a quality victory in the seventh leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2014 Europe Division 1 series at Hickstead in Great Britain today.  Already qualified for the Furusiyya 2014 Final through participation in the North America, Central America and Caribbean League, the Americans have been campaigning the European circuit in recent weeks in preparation for the forthcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy (FRA).  And they showed once again that they are a serious force to be reckoned with as they cruised into the lead in the early stages, and held on with conviction to claim the coveted Edward Prince of Wales Cup.

There were eight teams in the line-up and a lot riding on today’s result as five nations were battling for the last remaining qualifying points.  With just one further leg left to run, at Dublin (IRL) next Friday, it is right down to the wire as only seven of the 10 countries competing in Europe Division 1 will make the cut. The Irish and Belgians challenged strongly at the halfway stage, but it was the Dutch and Germans who shared runner-up spot at the end of the day when finishing just a fence off the winning team total on a final tally of eight faults.

And it was a disappointing day for the British hosts who struggled to finish joint-sixth with France while Sweden lined up last on a big score of 38 faults.

As the action gets underway in Dublin next week, the Irish will be under severe pressure along with the British and Ukrainians, because these three countries now fill the final three spots on the Europe Division 1 leaderboard.

Easy Clears
British course designer, Kelvin Bywater, initially appeared to have been a little lenient with his track as the competition began with easy clears from Sweden’s Niklas Arvidsson with Click and Cash and America’s McLain Ward with Rothchild.  But the Hickstead track is notoriously difficult with it’s undulating ground and impressive fence material, and it wasn’t long before it began to take it’s toll. 

The double, oxer to vertical, at fence three claimed plenty of scalps as did the following Hickstead planks which looked typically formidable standing a full 1.60m high.  The oxer at fence five also hit the floor numerous times and the next double at fence six - vertical to oxer - likewise.  This was followed by a 1.60m white gate that also proved influential, but it was the line from the oxer at eight to the open water at nine and the following double at 10 that proved most difficult of all, while the penultimate tall vertical also played its part in the story of the day.

Despite Arvidsson’s foot-perfect pathfinding performance the Swedes were already in big trouble after collecting 18 first-round faults.  Anchorman, Niklas Jonsson had already collected four faults at the first element of the double at six before his 11-year-old gelding, Caral, slammed on the brakes at the open water.  A full 4 metres wide and coloured deep blue, it is always intimidating to first-timers into the Hickstead arena and Arvidsson did well to persuade the horse to cross it at his second attempt.  But although his 17 faults could be discarded, the 14 from Royne Zettermann and Echo de Laubry had to be added to four from Angelie Von Essen and Jordan 11, and Swedish chances never recovered from the big first-round total.

Sharp End
At the sharp end however, the Americans went into round two on a zero score when Reed Kessler and Cylana were the only ones to fault first time out and they were followed by the Belgians and Irish on just four faults apiece and the Germans and Dutch on eight.  The French carried 12, but the British were already looking very vulnerable with 16, and 12 more left them completely out of contention.

The Belgians and Irish began well when pathfinders Darragh Kenny (Imotherp) and Pieter Devos (Dream of India Greenfield) completed the second half of a double-clear each, but both sides slipped when forced to add eight faults to their tally, opening the door for Germany and The Netherlands who stood firm when racking up three clear rounds apiece. 

Wout-Jan Van der Schans and Capetown faulted twice, but Bart Bles (Lord Sandro), Frank Schuttert (Winchester) and Jur Vrieling (VDL Bubalu) were all foot-perfect for the Dutch side while only Andre Thieme and the lovely bay mare Contanga made an error for Germany, at the  Hickstead planks which caused a lot more problems in the second round.  Clears from Germany’s Marco Kutscher (Liberty Son), Embassy ll (Hans-Dieter Dreher) and Marcus Ehning (Plot Blue) ensured that American anchor, Beezie Madden, would have to go again to keep her side out on front after single mistakes from Kessler and Margie Goldstein-Engle with her big 10-year-old stallion, Royce. 

A clear from Madden and Cortes C would clinch it, but four faults would lead to a jump-off against the Germans and Dutch.  And despite the fact that she is only back in the saddle a few weeks following an enforced absence, Madden and her 12-year-old gelding breezed in with another fabulous tour of the track.

For American Chef d’Equipe, Robert Ridland, it was a case of everything falling perfectly into place.

Very Significant
“It was very significant, just as it was two weeks ago at Aachen (GER)” he said.  “We planned our CSIO tour that began in Rotterdam (NED) after already qualifying for the Furusiyya Final at Spruce Meadows (CAN) in June.  The tour schedule was Rotterdam, Aachen, here at Hickstead and then Dublin and I always emphasised that this was more about preparation (for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy) than selection.  We’ve been really lucky with the weather and we’ve been enjoying the highest quality of showjumping at every event” added the team manager who has 10 riders on his WEG longlist.

Ridland was delighted with McLain Ward’s double-clear result. “This was his first show in Europe, he came straight from Calgary (CAN) where he showed super form, and Rothchild has been jumping fantastic.  Beezie, in addition, has bounced back from her injury and the timing wasn’t all that bad considering that she had to adjust her schedule - she has managed to be close to 100 per cent (fit), in fact I think she is 100 per cent!” he declared.

Madden was injured in a fall from a young horse at a show at Old Salem Farm in the USA on 18 May this year.

Back Riding
“I’m back riding four or five weeks now” she said today.  “First I did two smaller competitions with Simon and Cortes C and a 5-Star (show) with two other horses.  I tried to time it to come back in time to peak for the WEG which is my goal” she explained. “I was out of action for six weeks with a broken collarbone - I had surgery to put it back together.  I had a fall competing on a young horse, he left a stride out at the water and I was lucky that the event is held close to New York city where there are so many specialist surgeons” she continued. 

She believes her two top rides, Simon and Cortes C, “are both ready for the WEG” but she added that “after today I suppose I’d favour Cortes but I have two great horses and I hope I have a difficult decision to make!”

For some of the teams going to Dublin however there is a more imminent issue - qualification for the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ 2014.  The last leg of the Europe Division 1 qualifying series looks set to be a sizzler in seven days’ time.

For further information on round 16 of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2014 series at Hickstead, visit website or contact Press Officer Victoria Spicer, Email, Tel +44 7811 113185.  The last leg of Europe Division 1 will take place in Dublin (IRL) on Friday 8 August.  For all information on the Irish fixture visit website or contact Press Officer Marita Connors, Email, Tel +353 1 240 7916.
1.    USA 4 faults: Rothchild (McLain Ward) 0/0, Cylano (Reed Kessler) 8/4, Royce (Margie Goldstein-Engle) 0/4, Cortes C (Beezie Madden) 0/0.
2.    Netherlands 8 faults: Capetown (Wout-Jan van der Schans) 4/8, Lord Sandro (Bart Bles) 4/0, Winchester (Frank Schuttert) 4/0, VDL Bubalu (Jur Vrieling) 0/0.
2.    Germany 8 faults: Liberty Son (Marco Kutscher) 4/0, Contanga (Andre Thieme) 0/8, Embassy ll (Hans-Dieter Dreher) 4/0, Plot Blue (Marcus Ehning) 8/0.
4.    Ireland 12 faults: Imotherp (Darragh Kenny) 0/0, Golden Hawk (Shane Breen) 4/8, Molly Malone (Bertram) 0/8, Antello Z (Cameron Hanley) 4/0.
4.    Belgium 12 faults: Dream of India Greenfield (Pieter Devos) 0/0, Challenge vd Begijnakker (Nicola Philippaerts) 12/4, Domino (Jos Verlooy) 4/8, Conrad de Hus (Gregory Wathelet) 0/4.
6.    Great Britain 28 faults: Zaire (Guy Williams) 8/4, Catwalk lV (Robert Whitaker) 12/12, Touchable (Jessie Drea) 4/4, Wings Sublieme (Ben Maher) 4/4.
6.    France 28 faults: Number One D'Iso Un Prince (Nicolas Delmotte) 4/8, U2 (Mathieu Billot) 4/4, Myself de Breve (Marie Hecart) 4/4, Qarat de la Loge (Julien Epaillard) 8/16.
8.    Sweden 38 faults: Click and Cash (Niklas Arvidsson) 0/8, Echo de Laubry (Royne Zettermann) 14/21, Jordan ll (Angelie von Essen) 4/9, Caral (Niklas Jonsson) 17/4.
Facts and Figures: 
Hickstead (GBR) presented Round 7 of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2014 Europe Division 1 series today.
8 teams competed - Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden and USA.
5 countries were chasing qualification point for the Furusiyya 2014 Final - Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and Netherlands.
Course designer was Great Britain's Kelvin Bywater.
Faults occurred all around the 12-fence course of fences, but the doubles at fences 3 and 6, the infamous Hickstead planks at fence four and the open water at fence 9 proved particularly influential.
5 horse-and-rider combinations jumped double-clear - USA's McLain Ward and Rothchild and Beezie Madden with Cortes C, Netherlands' Jur Vrieling with VDL Bubalu, Ireland's Darragh Kenny with Imotherp and Belgium's Pieter Devos with Dream of India Greenfield.
Just one further leg of the Europe Division 1 series remains - at Dublin, Ireland next Friday, 8 August.
The Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2014 Final will take place at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain in October.
Beezie Madden (USA) - “I knew my horse was comfortable in this ring, we were double-clear here last year, but Hickstead has an unusual atmosphere and the jumps are a bit different.  The face of the water jump is so wide and that causes problems, but they did a beautiful job with the course”.
Margie Goldstein-Engle (USA) - “it’s great to be part of a strong team. This is my first time in Hickstead, we don’t have anything like it in the US and I truly enjoyed it”.
Beezie Madden (USA) - “I’ll be taking Simon and Cortes to Dublin”.
McLain Ward (USA) - :this is a great team and I thought we had a real chance today. My horse has a huge heart, and I am so proud of him!”
Reed Kessler (USA) - “My horse jumped beautifully, I mis-rode the first line but my horse was fantastic. Rob always tries to put teams with experienced riders and bringing some new ones as well and it’s so amazing to be able to learn from such great riders”.
Standings after Round 7 of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Europe Division 1 League 2014 at Hickstead (GBR):
1.   France  -  345
2.   Netherlands  -  345
3.   Belgium  -  295
4.   Spain  -  282.5
5.   Switzerland -  280   
6.   Germany -  255
7.   Sweden -  220
8.   Ireland -  205
9.   Great Britain  -  187.5
10.  Ukraine  -  170

For further information on the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping series check out this link

"Furusiyya" (Arabic: فروسيه) this single Arabic word conveys so much, embracing the idea of horsemanship, chivalry, and equestrian knowledge in general. The term is a derivation of faris, or horseman and faras, a horse.

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