Team USA 1 were convincing winners at the first leg of the FEI Nations Cup Dressage 2014 pilot series in Florida in the US coming out on top of eight other teams from seven countries.
The historic event marked an important moment in the sport, as the Nations Cup event in Wellington was the first time the concept moved outside the European region.
The US side of Silva Martin, Tina Konyot, Adrienne Lyle and Shawna Harding established the lead on Wednesday and held on firmly to emerge victorious in the closing stages.
The Canada 1 Team of Belinda Trussell, Chris Von Martels, Brittany Fraser and Megan Lane finished nine points behind when slotting into runner-up spot while the Spanish foursome of Paula Matute, Juan Matute Jr, 16, Carlos Munoz and Marta Renilla were less than two points further adrift in third.
The USA 2 side of Catherine Haddad-Staller, Shelly Francis, Ashley Wimmer and Justin Hardin lined up a very close fourth. Both the USA and Canada fielded two teams for this competition but could declare only one for points purposes. Teams from Australia, Colombia, Germany and The Netherlands also took part.
Using a unique format created for this event alone, the team competition was held over two rounds hosting both Big and Small Tour competitors. The Ground Jury consisted of Anne Gribbons, Gabriel Armando, Cesar Torrente, Lorraine MacDonald and Bo Jena.
Adrienne Lyle’s winning Grand Prix test set Team USA 1 on the road to their first-day lead. Her result with the 15-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Wizard, left the team on a first-day total of 212.802, and she encapsulated the spirit of the competition when she said afterwards, “just to have everyone there at the ringside for your rides and know that they’re rooting for you – it’s obviously a little bit more pressure, but it’s a fun pressure and I enjoy it”.
And Lyle headed the Grand Prix field again when scoring 72.559. Tina Konyot and the 16-year-old Danish stallion Calecto V posted a mark of 70.971 while the 67.211 that earned ninth place in the Intermediaire 1 for Silva Martin and Rosa Cha W, and the 66.816 that saw Shawna Harding and Rigo line up in tenth spot ensured the USA 1 team finishing score would leave the result beyond doubt.
US National Dressage Coach Robert Dover was understandably delighted in the aftermath. “This concept is a definite move in the right direction!” he said.
“When I was on the FEI Dressage Task Force some years ago one of my great hopes, and suggestions, was the creation of a Nations Cup series. So I’m really thrilled that not only has the Dressage Committee created the series, but that Wellington is the first of the shows to be staged this season. It’s beautiful here – the grounds, the arena, the facilities are second to none. Overall I’m very excited to see so many teams from around the world, and as National Coach for the US I am determined that we will have teams at every Nations Cup for the rest of this season, except for Vidauban (FRA) next week,” he said.
“Vidauban takes place too close to our own event and in the middle of a huge show season here in Florida. We need to bring all the organisers together to discuss the calendar so we can have a win-win situation for everybody next season. And US riders will then compete at all the Nations Cup events,” he said.
He is determined that the Nations Cup concept will drive improvement in the general level of dressage In the USA, and he talked about his vision for the future. “What I want is that, two Pan-Ams (Pan-American Games) from now, all of our riders will compete in Grand Prix. We have to raise the bar, it’s the only way, and when you do that then the riders know they they have to step up their game.”
FEI Director of Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage, Trond Asmyr, was also very pleased with the successful expansion of the series, which looks set to become an official series over the coming years. “From an FEI perspective this is the direction we want to go, becoming a global series and not just European-based. And to have this event at a fantastic venue like the Wellington Showgrounds makes it all the more special,” he said.
The next leg of the FEI Nations Cup Dressage 2014 series takes place at Vidabaun, France, on Friday, February 28.
1. USA Team 1 – 423.543: Rosa Cha W (Silva Martin), Calecto V (Tina Konyot), Wizard (Adrienne Lyle), Rigo (Shawna Harding).
2. Canada 1 – 414.488: Anton (Belinda Trussell), Zilverstar (Chris Von Martels), All In (Brittany Fraser), San D’Or (Megan Lane).
3. Spain – 412.632: Tarpan Ymas (Paula Matute), Don Diego Ymas (Juan Matute Jr), Kouseau (Carlos Munoz), Presumido (Marta Renilla).