Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 29, 2020 – Show jumping competitors took to the International Arena Saturday, February 29, competing under the lights for their countries and a shot at the lion’s share of the prize money. A total of 37 horse-and-athlete combinations representing nine different nations vied for the spot at the top of the podium in the $150,000 FEI Nations Cup CSIO4*. Returning as the 2019 defending champions, the United States put forth an impressive performance, including the team’s only double-clear round produced by up-and-coming 18-year-old Brian Moggre. In the end, the United States proved they were the ones to beat, finishing on just 4 faults and clinching the country’s eighth WEF Nations Cup win since the event’s inauguration.
Course designer Ken Krome (USA) put forward a 12-obstacle track, featuring open water and several difficult combinations at the 1.50m and 1.60m height. A total of six horse-and-rider pairs managed to clear the course within the 70-second time allowed. Following the first round, the United States led the way with fault-free trips from teammates Lucas Porter, Brian Moggre, and Adrienne Sternlicht, with Andrew Kocher only accruing 1 time fault, placing the team at the top of the class with the lowest cumulative score of zero faults.
Based on the composite points accrued from the first round, the top six teams were invited back to contend for the podium spot. In addition to the United States, Ireland sat in the second position on a total of 4 faults with clear rounds from Darragh Kenny and Paul O’Shea. Claiming the third and fourth place spots on a total of 13 faults was Canada and Brazil, with the 17-fault cut-off score being produced by both Australia and Israel to round out the teams eligible for the second round of competition. With only one rail separating the leading team from the troupe in sixth position, navigating successful trips was imperative to earn a place on the podium.
Returning in reverse order of the standings over the same course, the first clear round was produced by Kocher aboard Squirt Gun, the top mount in Kocher’s current string. With rails falling all over the course, the next clear round was not produced until the third rotation of competitors. Representing Ireland, David Blake piloted Keoki to a clear finish to help Ireland maintain their second place position. In addition to Blake, Scott Keach (AUS) and Sydney Shulman also produced valuable fault-free rounds that benefited their respective team’s placing.
Headed into the final leg of the competition, Brazil and Israel accrued too many faults to improve upon their original ranking. With the ability to solidify the win for the United States, Moggre and his longtime partner MTM Vivre Le Reve left nothing to chance, clearing the course with ease and defending the United States’ leading spot. Thanks to her teammates’ three penalty-free rounds, the need for Sternlicht to compete again on Just a Gamble was negated and she opted to save her horse.
Since the inauguration of the event in 2002, five nations have taken the crown: Great Britain, Canada, Ireland, Germany and the 2019 champions, the United States. With their win Saturday evening in the $150,000 FEI Nations Cup CSIO4*, the United States defends its 2019 title, bringing the country’s total number of victories to eight. The team was stacked with four talented athletes, including Sternlicht who most recently won gold at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina. Rising stars 18-year-old Moggre and 22-year-old Porter were new to the team roster, making their Nations Cup debut alongside Kocher with impressive performances that were indicative of what is to come as each athlete hopes to reprise their role in elite competition representing the United States.
Second place was ultimately awarded to Ireland, comprised of Kenny, Billy Twomey, Blake, and Paul O’Shea finishing on a total of 13 faults. Climbing the ranks to round the top three Saturday evening was the team from Australia, comprised of Amy Graham, Hillary Scott, Keach, and Rowan Willis who finished on a total of 22 faults.
Although Saturday evening’s competition did not count for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Series, teams in the North/Central America and Caribbean division will have a chance to accrue valuable points for their home nations in two more Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ events, the CSIO5* Coapexpan in Mexico and the CSIO5* Langley in Canada. The United States currently leads the way in the standings with 100 points, followed by Mexico in second with 80 points and Canada in third place with 70 points.
Show jumping competition during Week Eight at WEF will culminate with the $214,000 Premier Equestrian Grand Prix CSI4*, set to kick-off at 1:00pm Sunday, March 1 in the International Arena.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Robert Ridland – U.S.A. Chef d’Equipe
On the team:
“It still amazes me that basically everybody was having their Nations Cup debut tonight, until it came to our veteran anchor rider [Adrienne Sternlicht]. It was really exciting to be able to do that. It was fun the last two weeks with the veteran team [at Palm Beach Masters], and this team was chosen right down the ranking list of the applicants. To see them do that tonight was just amazing.”
On the win:
There is nothing like pressure at home, Saturday night here, when everything is on the line. Nobody in the stands cares that this is their ‘debut’, they’re rooting for the Americans. The American flag was everywhere. Everybody here knew what the pressure is all about, just like [Adrienne Sternlicht] had pressure at the [2018 World Equestrian Games] in Tryon; it’s a different kind of pressure at home. For these riders to be able to experience that and have the flag on their saddle pad for the first time, this is invaluable.”
On the win:
“This is my third Nations Cup in a row on this team. I’m very thankful for my teammates who made it very easy for me tonight. We’re a young team, but we have a lot of strong riders who have had consistent seasons leading up to this event. I think that was showcased in their awesome rides.
On her plans:
“I am qualified for the 2020 World Cup Finals in Las Vegas, so I will aim some of my other horses for that. I am hopeful to head to Europe and have a strong spring season.”
On Just a Gamble:
“She is a mare that I have had for about one year. It took me a while to get to know her and towards the end of last year I think our partnership really started to solidify. She’s been very consistent. She has been an unbelievable support system with my top mare, Cristalline, just coming back, so I’m very very grateful to have her. She’s been unbelievable and kept me in the big classes. I feel like she has so much depth to her, she’s very hot. We joke that she could probably run the Kentucky Derby after tonight’s Nations Cup. I see a huge future for her in the sport. I hope to jump her on more Nations Cup teams and maybe even a championship team.”
On Squirt Gun:
“He is by far the best horse that I have at the moment. He jumps clear a lot, and he’s fast. My other horses are developing and getting there, but they are a little further away. He was my only choice for tonight!”
On his partnership with Squirt Gun:
“We bought him on a buying trip in Germany with the Hatfields and Eye Candy Jumpers, they are a sponsor for me and I am lucky to have them. He was doing Low Schooling 1.0m classes.He is the best horse that I have had so far in my career. I’m not saying that I do everything right with him, because I probably don’t, but he seems to put up with me. He lets me be long, be short, he jumps anything. He is amazing because of that; we know each other well and I hope that I can plan his career so that I can keep him going for a long time. He’s only 9 years old, so I hope that he lasts long.”
On his Nations Cup debut:
“I was really thankful to be a part of the team. I really aimed for this Nations Cup since the start of the season here in Florida. I thought my horse [C Hunter] jumped two great rounds tonight. He jumped a really amazing first round, and I thought he jumped really well again in the second round. I was a bit unlucky with my 4 faults, but I’m really happy with him and we’ve come a long way together so I look forward to what the future holds with him.”
On C Hunter:
“C Hunter is the leading horse in my string. He is a really special horse to me and to my family. We have had him for 3 years now. We have really grown together and jumped some nice rounds together. We have had some mistakes along the way, but we have really grown to be a partnership and I hope that we can have more great results like this.”
On the win:
“It’s quite a surreal feeling. I was super happy to be a part of the team over at the Palm Beach Masters. So to be on the team here [at WEF ]and to jump really meant a lot. Everybody wants to jump clear their first time on the team, and my horse made that happen for me. I couldn’t be more thankful.”
On his current string of horses:
“MTM Vivre le Reve is my top horse at the moment. I have had him for about 4 years and I compete with him in all of the grand prix classes. He is a horse that I know like the back of my hand. I have a new mare that I just got, [Nikita Jolie], she just won the [$37,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m Classic] ranking class here yesterday. She is a 10-year-old mare. I think there is a bright future with her. I have a 13-year-old chestnut mare, [MTM Flutterby], that I compete in the ranking classes with as well, and I have a very talented eight-year-old, [MTM Los Angeles] that I am excited to bring up and hopefully jump in some bigger classes with.”