USA 1 Wins Wellington Nations Cup, Canada 1 2nd, Canada 2 3rd
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 26, 2015–United States 1 easily won the Adequate Global Dressage Festival Nations Cup over two Canadian teams winning silver and bronze Thursday in an event formatted identical to the Pan American Games of mixed small and big tour combinations over two days of competition.
The powerful USA 1 team of Laura Graves on Verdades and Allison Brock on Roosevelt at Big Tour and Kimberly Herslow on Rosmarin and Olivia LaGoy-Weltz on Rassing’s Lonoir at Small Tour dominated the fourth year of the Nations Cup sponsored by Stillpoint Farm of Wellington.
The competition started with nine teams but ended with seven. The results were:
1. USA 1 ($7,500)
2. Canada 1 ($6,000)
3. Canada 2 ($4,500)
4. USA 2 ($3,750)
5. Germany ($3,250)
Australia and Venezuela lost combinations due to veterinary issues or problems in the competition that left both countries without the minimum of three horses for teams.
This was the fourth year in a row that USA 1 has captured the gold medal at the Nations Cup, the only senior team event outside Europe and a part of the FEI series of seven team competitions. However, this year was critical as it was a dry run for the Pan Ams in Toronto in mid-July that will determine a single place for a team from the Americas aside from the host nation of Brazil.
This year’s USA 1 squad included team rookies Allison Brock and Olivia LaGoy-Weltz.
Although Laura and Verdades performed only their second Grand Prix Special–the other was at the World Games last August–the pair finished with the highest result in the Big Tour for the second day of the competition that was made up of Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special for Big Tour horses and Prix St. Georges and Intermediate 1 for Small Tour.
Video of the ride by Laura and Verdades can be seen here.
The Big Tour combinations received a “bonus” of 1.5 percentage points for both the Grand Prix and the Special.
Allison and Roosevelt wowed the crowd and produced a personal best score that came after a bumpy ride to the top level of the sport as veterinary issues caused a lengthy absence from the show ring last year for the 13-year-old KWPN stallion owned by Claudine and Fritz Kundrun.
Kimberly Herslow of Stockton, New Jersey on her 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding, already atop the U.S. small tour rankings, scored 76.158 per cent that not only was a personal best at 76.158 per cent but was also the highest small tour result in the Americas this year.
Video of the ride by Kimberly and Rosmarin can be seen here.
“We found that fifth gear,” Kimberly Herslow told dressage-news.com of the ride. “We were really on today. And there’s more in the tank.
“That was for sure our best ever ride and it’s something we’ve been building up to the whole season–getting more impulsion, more power. I finally worked out we can do this with a 20-minute warmup and keep building as we go around the arena and during the ride itself.”
Chris Von Martels on Zilverstar was the highest scoring Canadian on their nation’s No. 1 team with a personal best of 74.895 per cent with the 11-year-old KWPN gelding at Intermediate 1 for the team silver medal.
The gap between Canada and the U.S. at small tour was “very narrow,” Chris said, that made it “an exciting time in the sport.”
Canada 2’s Christilot Boylen on Donatella also posted a personal best result of 73.579 per cent that pulled the team into third place.
Although the ranking of the first two teams never seemed in doubt, the judging, particularly of some of the Grand Prix Special rides, was sharply criticized.
Disparities in the marks for Laura and Verdades were between 72.255 per cent from Janet Foy of the United States and 78.137 from Cesar Torrente of Colombia and for Allison Brock and Rosevelt a low of 71.176 per cent from Elizabeth McMullen of Canada and a high of 77.059 from Linda Zang (see separate story).
Linda, president of the ground jury and recently appointed as a member of the Judges Supervisory Panel that is a check on scores at championships, disclosed that she had already set a meeting with Christoph Koschel of Germany, the judges and Thomas Baur, the Global show director and a member of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) Dressage Committee to go over the individual marks while watching a video of the test.
Robert Dover, the U.S. chef d’equips, described the performances of the Americans as “glorious to watch” and pointed out that the United States now had four combinations–Steffen Peters on Legolas and Rosamunde, Laura on Verdades and Allison on Rosevelt–capable of scores of between 74 per cent and 80 per cent.
“I am confident not only for the Pan American Games,” Robert said, “but also on the way to Rio (de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games). We have more and more depth for America than we’ve ever seen before.”
He also took a swipe at the FEI that restricted qualification through the Pan Ams for one team instead of two in the past. The United States is the hot favorite to win Pan Am gold and the ticket to Rio while Canada will have to try to put together a “composite” team.
Australia, he said, was awarded a team starting place through last year’s WEG although they placed behind Canada, and nations from that part of the world get another chance to qualify through a specially arranged competition.
“It will be to the detriment of our sport if Canada cannot compete in Rio,” he said.