Barcelona, Spain - The Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team rode determined in Thursday's preliminary round to advance to the Final Competition against the top eight teams on Saturday, September 30. Lauren Hough and McLain Ward both delivered clear rounds, allowing the U.S. team to finish on a mere four faults.
Drawing eighth in the order, U.S. team Chef d'Equipe Robert Ridland selected Hough (Wellington, Fla.) and Ohlala as the leadoff rider for the U.S. Hough and The Ohlala Group's 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare set the tone early.
"[Ohlala] gave an amazing effort today. She made my job really easy and I enjoyed it," said Hough. "I actually really enjoyed starting off. I had a plan, so I didn't even watch anyone go. I walked the course and just stuck with my plan, and she was fantastic. This is a fantastic course builder. That triple at the end is quite fearsome, but I think it is very jumpable."
Laura Kraut (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) and St. Bride's Farm's 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Confu, and Beezie Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.) with Abigail Wexner's nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion, Darry Lou, each dropped one rail. Kraut and Confu added a time fault, which made for the team's drop score.
Headed into the fourth round, the United States sat in the fifth position on a four-fault total tied with the Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany, while Italy, France, and Canada were in the lead.
Ward (Brewster, N.Y.) and Double H Farm and Francois Mathy's 11-year-old Belgium Warmblood mare HH Azur anchored the team, producing a flawless ride and a clear round to seal the U.S team's qualification for Saturday's Final Competition. Watch his ride here.
"It was looking like there for a moment that we weren't even going to have to send the fourth [rider]," said Ward. "But then when you get down to the third and fourth riders you are going to get the more experienced and sometimes stronger combinations. They started to look for clear rounds, so the situation evolved. I knew Azur felt in good form...but I thought she performed beautifully and the main aim was to help the team qualify for Saturday."
Jumping one round in the First Round competition, the top eight teams from Thursday advance to the Final Competition round on Saturday evening. Teams placed ninth through 15th will jump the Longines Challenge Cup on Friday evening, September 29. View full results here.
More information on the Longines FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final can be found here. Watch the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team compete on Saturday, September 30 at 3 p.m. EST.