Team USA sensationally won their second Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping 2014 qualifier in 24 hours when adding the honours at the Europe Division 2 leg in Gijon, Spain, on Saturday to Friday’s Europe Division 1 victory at Hickstead in Britain.
“We all watched Hickstead yesterday and we were really proud of them, so we wanted to compete with them here today and show them we could do it, too!” said US anchor Georgina Bloomberg this evening after producing one of just two double-clear performances in a competition filled with excitement.
There were 11 teams in action at the Spanish venue, but only two vying for Europe Division 2 qualifying points, and it was the fourth-placed Italians who clinched the maximum 100 while Norway claimed 90 when slotting into seventh place.
Once again the US victory was crisp and clear as their eight-fault final score left them well ahead of Switzerland in second with 13 while the British were close behind in third with 15 faults at the end of the day. The host nation posed a threat to the eventual winners at the halfway stage but had to settle for fourth place in the final analysis while Belgium slotted in between Italy and Norway in sixth place.
Only eight teams qualified for the second round, and despite doing so the French withdrew after picking up an unlikely 20 faults first time out. It was an uneasy French outing that may leave Chef d’Equipe, Philippe Guerdat, scratching his head a little in the lead-up to his final selection for the forthcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy.
Only Georgina Bloomberg riding Juvina and Italian pathfinder, Juan Carlos Garcia (Bonzai van de Warande), managed to keep a completely clean sheet throughout the day.
Bloomberg is not included in the 10-strong US longlist for the forthcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy, but she has no regrets. The arrival of her baby son Jasper, now seven months old, has re-set her parameters in every way.
She admitted that the trip to the WEG was “something I wanted, back in December (when Jasper was born) I was planning to be back riding in February … but I’ve only been back riding since March. I don’t mind, I now have a beautiful healthy baby boy and I’m just starting to peak again in the ring, but it’s so great to be back!”
She finds combining motherhood with her equestrian career “quite a challenge, but it’s helping me to be more focused which may sound a little strange. I now really cherish the time I spend in the saddle. Travelling is difficult for me but I’m feeling physically stronger and since my little boy arrived I have more respect for my body and I’m taking more care of myself. Having Jasper has put things into perspective … he’s the most important part of my life,” she said.
And talking about her fabulous mare, Juvina, she said, “I bought her in May 2013 and started riding her last summer in small Grand Prix classes. I competed at the Hamptons and then that was it because Jasper arrived. She was the perfect horse to ride to the very end (of her pregnancy), you can go in and jump the big jumps with her and she can do it with her eyes closed! I’ve never felt the power and scope that she gives me!” said the rider whose career has been dogged by a back injury that required surgery and has kept her out of the limelight over the last three years.
“I haven’t been able to compete consistently but all that’s changed and I can now!” said Bloomberg this evening.
US Chef d’Equipe Diann Langer was naturally delighted with the result. “I think the climate this year has been excellent and I would love to thank the OC for the invitation, for having us over and the course designer for putting together this beautiful course, particularly his attention to detail.”
She said the US Federation is very committed to developing young teams for the future. “They have sent out a lot of teams this year. Along with that, we are developing a lot of programmes for young riders – I will have another young team in Bratislava next week. We really believe the more events they can compete in, the better they will get.
“We want our young riders – usually those that are 21 or under – to go to 3-star competitions in order to start preparing for the future. Sometimes we will put a senior rider with them to try and anchor it. Our 5-star events are all about having our already developed teams out to get more exposure together. You cannot excel in the Nations Cup without competing in it. The two-round formats are very different to what these riders are used to when competing back in the States,” she pointed out.
Ashlee Bond is one of the many US riders who have benefited from the policy. “I think that when you compete on Nations Cups it’s all about how your team comes together – we fought for it and wanted it really bad, especially after the success our brothers and sisters enjoyed yesterday in Hickstead! We wanted to repeat that here in Gijon. We wanted it the most!” she said.
The back-to-back US success is a reminder, if needed, of just how strong the US challenge is right now, just three weeks away from the World Championships.
Meanwhile, the result sees Norway remain at the head of the Europe Division 2 leaderboard and look well-qualified for the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping 2014 Final. There are two places available, and Italy has moved into second place, but there are two more events, at Bratislave (SVK) next Friday and Arezzo (ITA) in September, before the second qualification spot can be confirmed.
1. USA 8 faults: Chela LS (Ashlee Bond) 4/0, Bonanza van Paemel (Catherine Pasmore) 0/4, HH Copin van de Broy (Quentin Judge) 4/4, Juvina (Georgina Bloomberg) 0/0.
2. Switzerland 13 faults: Capuera ll (Nadja Peter-Steiner) 5/8, Cordel (Claudia Gisler) 4/0, Windsor XV (Niklaus Rutschi) 0/4, Admirable (Marie Etter-Pellegrin) 8/0.
3. Great Britain 15 faults: Dougie Douglas (Holly Gillot) 1/1, Ashkari (Yasmin Pinchen) 8/1, Pebbles IV (Robert Bevis) 9/0, Bintang ll (Laura Renwick) 4/Ret.
4. Spain 16 faults: Nuage Bleu (Pilar Lucrecia Cordon) 0/8, Rackel Chavannaise (Manuel Anon) 8/0, Fidux (Eduardo Alvarez Aznar) 13/4, Action Breaker (Sergio Alvarez Moya) 0/4.
5. Italy 18 faults: Bonzai van de Warande (Juan Carlos Garcia) 0/0, Loro Piana Acamar (Massimiliano Ferrario) 9/5, Fixdesign Funke van’T Heike (Giulia Martinengo Marquet) 0/Elim, For Passion (Daniele Augusto da Rios) 9/4.
6. Belgium 27 faults: STB Fleuri van de Koekelberg (Dirk Demeersman) 4/5, Breemeersen Adorado (Donaat Brondeel) 8/5, Whitney van de Dwerse Hagen (Patrick Spits) 16/16, Loro Piana Once de Kreisker (Philippe Le Jeune) 5/0.
7. Norway 34 faults: CC Top (Ole Kristoffer Meland) 9/12, Valley Stream B (Morten Djupvik) 4/Elim, Dimaro vd Looise Heide (Dag Ove Kingsroed) 9/0, Edesa S Banjan (Geir Gulliksen) 9/0.
8. France 20 faults IN FIRST ROUND: Flora de Mariposa (Penelope Leprevost) 0, Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois (Roger Yves Bost) 18, Armitages Boy (Aymeric de Ponnat) 16, Qlassic Bois Margot (Simon Delestre) 4.
Standings after Round 6:
1. Norway - 345
2. Italy - 270
3. Denmark - 240
4. Poland - 230
5. Turkey - 152.5
6. Finland - 150
6. Austria - 150
8. Hungary - 145
8. Slovakia - 145
10. Portugal - 100
10. Czech Republic - 100
12. Russia - 65