Wellington, FL. - The USA I Team, led by Chef d'Equipe Robert Dover, maintained its day-one lead to claim victory in the 2015 Stillpoint Farm FEI Nations Cup with strong performances from all four team members. On Thursday at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, Small Tour combinations performed the FEI Intermediaire I Test, with Big Tour pairs riding the FEI Grand Prix Special Test. A total of 23 Small Tour combinations went down the centerline and seven Big Tour competitors closed out the second session, with each Big Tour combination earning an additional 1.5% bonus points toward its Team scores. USA I claimed victory by a healthy margin, finishing on a total of 452.599, with the Canada I Team earning the second-place honors on 438.966, followed by Canada II in third on a score of 424.774. The Debbie McDonald-led USA II Team missed out on a podium finish by a fraction of a point, finishing fourth on 424.211.
"It was a fight down to the end and I couldn't be more proud, not only of my Team I, but also of Team II," said Dover. "These riders really stepped up to the plate and it was glorious to watch."
USA I Team
As the first U.S. competitors into The Stadium, Olivia LaGoy-Weltz and her own Rassing's Lonoir earned a 71.368% in the Intermediaire I.
With a nearly impeccable performance, Kim Herslow (Stockton, N.J.) and Kiroli Enterprises LLC's 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding Rosmarin earned their best-ever Intermediaire I score and the best mark in Nations Cup competition on Thursday with a 76.158%.
"Everybody really tried their hardest and we really pulled together as a team," said Herslow. "I really enjoyed the experience and look forward to doing more of it."
Allison Brock (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Claudine and Fritz Kundrun's 13-year-old Hanoverian stallion, Rosevelt, produced one of their best scores in the Big Tour to date as they scored 74.255%, a mark which reflected a near flawless performance. With the bonus awarded to Big Tour combinations, they contributed a score of 75.722 % to USA I.
"It's an honor; it's a great privilege for all of us. This has been a really positive experience and fun," said Brock. "There's a pressure to it but you are supported by your teammates and to win was just amazing."
As the final rider of the day, Laura Graves (Plymouth, Fla.) cemented victory for USA I with her 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Verdades, scoring 75.882%. Not only did the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games veterans produce the best Grand Prix Special score of the day, they contributed 77.3882 to USA I.
USA II Team
Chris Hickey (Wellington, Fla.) and Cecelia Stewart's nine-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, Ronaldo, produced an expressive effort on Thursday afternoon to score 72.228%, leaving the USA II Team in a competitive position.
Kasey Perry (Orangevale, Calif.) continued to impress in her U.S. team debut as she rode Diane Perry's 12-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, Goerklingtgaards Dublet, through tension to earn a mark of 71.079%.
Catherine Haddad Staller (Wellington, Fla.) and Rowan O'Riley's 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Mane Stream Hotmail, rounded out the USA II Team effort with a score of 69.373%, and with the bonus contributed a score of 70.873.
"I was so proud of every single one of them," said McDonald. "Chris Hickey brought a personal best for himself today. Kasey Perry was again on a very hot horse and she's still young at this, but she rode with such composure, and Catherine Haddad Staller is doing an amazing job. We are still trying to find the perfect warm-up and into the arena and finding that strategy."
With the USA I Team victory, the United States now has 10 points in the FEI Nations Cup Dressage Series, and plans to contend more Nations Cups throughout the 2015 Series.
About the Adequan Global Dressage Festival:
The Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) is one of the world's largest international and national dressage circuits featuring 7 FEI Dressage events, including a 5* and the only FEI Nations' Cup Series CDIO in the Western Hemisphere. The AGDF offers more than $650,000 in prize money for the seven international competitions, making it one of the richest circuits in the world. The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center facility includes the Van Kampen covered arena (made possible by Kimberly and Frederic Boyer and family) and four outdoor arenas with world-class footing, 200 permanent stalls, and a VIP seating area.