United States Wins Wellington Nations' Cup
WELLINGTON, FL, March 7 -
The United States claimed victory in the $75,000 FEI Nations' Cup, presented by CN, held Friday night during the CSIO5* CN Wellington Open, week eight of the CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
The only Nations' Cup team competition held in the United States, this year's competition attracted teams from a record nine countries. Canada was the two-time defending champion, but it was the United States, who last claimed victory in 2003, that emerged victorious with a two-round total of nine faults.
Course designer Jose Gamarra of Bolivia set a challenging track which produced two double clear performances from Canada's Eric Lamaze and Hickstead and Great Britain's Ben Maher with Rolette. It also produced five eliminations for refusals.
Following the first round, the United States was in the lead, having dropped the four faults incurred by Kent Farrington and Up Chiqui and counting only the time fault incurred by Hillary Dobbs and Quincy B. Both Danielle Torano of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., riding Marlo and anchor rider McLain Ward with Sapphire produced clear rounds. Ireland was in second with five faults; Mexico was in third with 10 faults; Great Britain was fourth with 13 faults; Venezuela was fifth with 14 faults and Canada was sixth with 16 faults. France, New Zealand and Argentina failed to make the cut for the second round.
In the second round, Farrington delivered a clear for the United States while Torano posted an eight fault score. When Dobbs of Sussex, N.J., came home clear, the victory was sealed for the United States without Ward having to ride.
"It felt good to pull my weight on the American team," said Dobbs, 19. "All of us put in a clear round to claim the victory. I was so excited and so proud to be a part of another Nations' Cup team. It was an exciting experience."
Of his winning team, chef d'equipe George Morris noted, "Putting together the team was tricky because we are in the midst of our Olympic Trials. I am happy to have both Danielle and Hillary on this team. I would like to thank the powers that be for this Nations' Cup. It is the most colorful event we go to, it is a real sporting class. I love it."
Canada mounted a strong challenge in the second round with Mario Deslauriers and Paradigm, Mac Cone and Ole and Lamaze all jumping clear to finish on 16 faults and in the runner-up position. The Canadian Team was competing without its anchor rider, Ian Millar, whose wife, Lynn, had died one day earlier. The competition was dedicated in her honor.
"Ian Millar has been a part of every Nations' Cup team I've ever ridden," noted Lamaze who, along with his teammates, paid tribute to Lynn Millar. "I had the opportunity today to ride in his anchor position and I was able to go double clear as he has done for us so many times. For our team to rally and come back in the second round - I think Ian would be proud of us."
The Mexican Team, comprised of Eduardo Salas riding RMW Estina, Manuel Lecuona riding Sydney, Daniel Michan riding Seraldo and Jaime Guerra riding RMW Power Point, had the loudest cheering section. The team ended up third with a two-round total of 24 faults.
"When I ended up clear in the first round, I felt like I had won the Olympics!" said Daniel Michan of the roars of approval that greeted him. "It was great to be cheered on by all the Mexicans."
Ireland finished fourth overall with a score of 30 faults, Great Britain was fifth with 35 faults and Venezuela placed sixth overall with a two-round total of 59 faults.
It was an event that Equestrian Sport Productions Chief Executive Officer Mark Bellissimo was extremely proud of.
"I am very pleased with the outcome," said Bellissimo. "It was a North American final with three countries working together - the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Thank you to Hunter Harrison (CEO of title sponsor CN) for his contributions to the sport. I think it is a great starting point for all of us this year."
The CSIO5* CN Open continues with Sunday's $150,000 CN US Open Jumping Championship, presented by Cosequin, which also acts as the fifth and final United States Show Jumping Team Selection Trials for the 2008 Olympic Games.
$75,000 FEI NATIONS
CUP PRESENTED BY CN
Place Country Exhibitor Round
1 Round 2
2 CANADA 16 0 =16
3 MEXICO 10 14 = 24
4 IRELAND 5 25 = 30
5 GREAT BRITAIN 13
22 = 35
6 VENEZUELA 14 45
7 FRANCE 29
8 NEW ZEALAND 29
9 ARGENTINA 48