USA Captures Inaugural Nations Cup Series After Taking Silver in Aachen
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
AACHEN, Germany, July 16, 2016–The United States captured the inaugural Nations Cup series that spanned the Atlantic after winning the silver medal at the World Equestrian Festival CDIO5* Saturday.
Steffen Peters and Legolas, the top ranked American pair that are partnered for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in three weeks, led the U.S. squad with fourth placings in both the Grand Prix and the Special behind the German powerhouse trio that all scored above 80 per cent on both days.
The American team was made up of Steffen of San Diego, California and the 14-year-old Westfalen gelding, Shelly Francis of Loxahatchee, Florida on Doktor, Arlene “Tuny” Page of Wellington, Florida and Katherine Bateson-Chandler also of Wellington on Alcazar. The United States team was down to three combinations for the second round when Katherine and Alcazar had to withdraw when the 11-year-old KWPN gelding suffered a colic and underwent surgery Friday night.
The U.S. won two of the five Nations Cups in which it had teams–Wellington and France.
Steffen said: “Fourth place right behind three Germans, it is exactly what our plan was before Rio. We need to make sure that Legolas is reliable for an arena like this. When we came into the arena at Rotterdam for the first 30 seconds there were still questions. Those questions were eliminated today.
“What is so neat about winning the Nations Cup is it was a group effort of three teams. That part is really cool. I think that says something about the progress of dressage in the United States, and I am extremely proud of my team-mates and honored to be a part of it.
“I had to prove for our team that he is the reliable team horse we need him to be. The crowd at Aachen is very respectful and they quietened down as I entered the stadium. The announcer said a few things about Legolas, the crowd clapped, Legolas didn’t react and I knew it was most likely going to be OK. He did some wonderful piaffe work and the little details that I am so excited about. The mouth is more foamy, the judges gave him an eight for the collected walk in the Grand Prix and today. These details mean the world to me. I am super happy and we are ready for Rio.”
“I am very proud of our U.S. athletes here in Aachen,” said Robert Dover the American coach and chef d’equipe.
“We came here hoping to do well against nations which sent their very best combinations to determine their teams for Rio.
“To end in a strong second place behind Germany in the Nations Cup was exciting but to actually win the the entire inaugural series is truly thrilling.
“It proves that America’s depth is growing and the strategy we put in place several years ago is working. I am extremely grateful to our riders and their wonderful horses, the best grooms in the world, our super personal trainers, owners, sponsors, great USEF staff led by Hallye Griffin, vets led by Dr. Rick Mitchell and all our supporters at home and around the world.”
Fifteen nations competed in the series with the U.S. and Sweden each participating in five events.
The final standings in the Nations Cup were: 1. Germany 492.598; 2. USA 437.139; 3. Denmark 430.418; 4. Spain 425.316; 5. Sweden 425.186; 6. Great Britain 420.419; 7. Belgium 351.915, and 8. Australia 274.253.
Standings after the first official year of the six Nations Cups that began in Wellington last March, then moved to Denmark, France, Netherlands and Sweden before wrapping up in Germany:
1. USA 56
2. Sweden 54
3. Denmark 40
4. Germany 38
5. Netherlands 29
6. Great Britain 23
7. France 20
8. Spain 16
9. Australia 14
10. Belgium 12
11. Russia 11
12T. Canada 8
12T. Costa Rico 8
14. Switzerland 4
15. Finland 3