USA Final Olympic Selection Event Starts With Nations Cup at Rotterdam

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Debbie McDonald gives the thumbs up to Laura Graves on Verdades after a working session in the Rotterdam main arena where the Nations Cup will be staged. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Debbie McDonald gives the thumbs up to a smiling Laura Graves on Verdades after a working session in the Rotterdam main arena where the Nations Cup will be staged. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands, June 22, 2016–The United States and Australia began the final selection event for their Olympic teams against stiff competition in the Nations Cup where the Americans are given a shot to defeat the usually powerful Netherlands team on their home field.

Seven countries are fielding teams in the CDIO5* Nations Cup that is in the first year as an official International Equestrian Federation (FEI) series. The United States is ranked No. 1 after winning two of the three events held so far in the six trans-Atlantic competitions.

The United States Nations Cup team with three of the four combinations likely to be on the team for Rio–Steffen Peters on Legolas, Laura Graves on Verdades and Kasey Perry-Glass on Dublet–are being closely watched in the European selection events as contenders for the Olympic podium.

Kasey Perry-Glass on Dublet having no trouble getting comfortable in the main stadium at Rotterdam. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Kasey Perry-Glass on Dublet having no trouble getting comfortable in the main stadium at Rotterdam. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Kasey, at 28 years old the youngest by four months on the American squad of seven riders and nine horses, and her family’s 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding have posted the highest score of 77.440 per cent so far in the first two selection events.

Steffen Peters on Legolas, a World and Pan American Games top team partnership, scored 76.820 in their one outing in Europe while Laura Graves on her 14-year-old KWPN gelding, posted 75.880 per cent in one of her two starts. Allison Brock on Rosevelt to compete in the companion CDI3*, scored 73.920 per cent in their one Grand Prix that has been the fourth highest result in Europe and in line with the pair’s last two competitions in Wellington, Florida.

Steffen Peters and Legolas in the veterinary check ahead of the Nations Cup.. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Steffen Peters and Legolas in the veterinary check ahead of the Nations Cup.. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Other teams expected to vie for top places along with the United States are the Netherlands led this year by World Cup champion Hans Peter-Minderhoud and Glock’s Johnson, absent Edward Gal but with Olympic team and individual medal pair and former world No. 1 Adelinde Cornelissen and Jerich Parzival took gold for the past two years. Sweden that includes the Olympic combination of Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfvén on Don Auriello, her 2012 Olympic and 2014 World Games mount, and Patrik Kittel on Deja that he competed at last year’s European Championships.

Jerich Parzival jogged by Adelinde Cornelissen who rode the horse to Olympic teram bronzer and individual silver in 2012, World Cup champion and former No. 1 at the Nations Cup vet check. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Jerich Parzival jogged by Adelinde Cornelissen who rode the horse to Olympic teram bronze and individual silver in 2012, World Cup champion and former No. 1 and now 19 years old at the Nations Cup vet check. © 2016 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Belgium, France, Germany and Great Britain are the other four teams.

Mary Hanna on Umbro will be the sole pair for Australia in the Nations Cup as the other six remaining Aussie combinations in their last Olympic selection event will compete in the CDI3*.

The U.S. will skip the Nations Cup in Falsterbo, Sweden in two weeks but is entered in the season-ending World Equestrian Festival at Aachen in mid-July. That also will decide the German team for Rio–a squad that could be capable of all four horse and rider combinations producing scores of 80 per cent–which would be a first for the Olympics.

Star list of the CDIO5* Nations Cup–all times local (deduct 6 hours for US Eastern Time): Rotterdam Nations Cup start list