By Dana Rossmeier, US Equestrian communications department
Xalapa, Mexico – The Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team battled it out with Mexico until the very end to produce a strong silver medal performance at the FEI Nations Cup™ CSIO4* Coapexpan on Friday. Although the team of Quentin Judge, Peter Lutz, Alison Robitaille and Adrienne Sternlicht missed the top of the podium by 1 fault, they picked up 90 points to keep the U.S. on top of the North American standings heading into the division final at CSIO4* Langley. Mexico entered two teams, with their designated points team earning gold with 16 faults. A wide margin separated the U.S. from Canada, who took bronze with 34 faults.
“It’s great to still be in the lead. Ultimately, that’s our first priority. Naturally, we’re always trying to get the biggest gap we can, and there is not much of a gap, so Langley becomes quite important to us since we are only 10 points ahead,” said U.S. Chef d’Équipe Robert Ridland. “We were up against a very strong home team, and we knew that coming in, and we did what we could to knock them off the pedestal. We came close, but we ended up with the result that kept us in the lead so we are happy about that.”
While Mexico’s non-point team and Canada struggled throughout the first round, the U.S. kept the competition close with Mexico’s designated point team. Pathfinding for the U.S. was first-time Nations Cup competitor Peter Lutz (Goldens Bridge, New York) and Robin De Ponthual, Katherine Gallagher and Michael Meller’s 2005 Selle Français gelding, who had a fault at the water. Quentin Judge (Wellington, Florida) followed second in the order with Double H Farm’s HH Conrad. He and the 2005 Holsteiner stallion jumped a clear round but incurred 1 time fault. Rookie Nations Cup competitor Adrienne Sternlicht (Greenwich, Connecticut) and Cristalline, Starlight Farm LLC’s 2008 Bavarian Warmblood mare, just missed a clear round with a rail at fence 11. Their three consistent rounds made it possible to drop anchor combination Alison Robitaille (Upperville, Virginia) and Ace’s, Diana Firestone’s 2005 KWPN gelding, 8-fault round.
The U.S. trailed Mexico’s designated point team by 3 faults heading into the second round. With little room for error, the U.S. needed fault-free rounds to stay in contention for gold. Unfortunately Lutz and Robin De Ponthual got off to a rocky start with 12 faults. Judge and HH Conrad and Sternlicht and Cristalline followed, each accumulating 4 faults. Mexico’s designated point team added 10 faults through the first three combinations. Although Robitaille jumped clear, the U.S. could not make up the margin, and Mexico’s designated point team did not have to jump their anchor combination.
“They had a good day today. For some it was their first experience in a team competition, which is always different from individual competition. I thought we came out with some valuable experience,” said Ridland. “Alison, a veteran rider, has been away from this level of the sport internationally for some time so she got her feet wet in the first round, then came up with a beautiful clean round in the second round, so that was great to see. Overall, it was a good result.”
All photos by Anwar Esquivel