US riders added to their first day domination by putting up more leading scores to win the team’s fourth consecutive FEI World Equestrian Games Reining gold medal in Normandy.
After Mandy McCutcheon rode Yellow Jersey (Wimpys Little Step x Ms Clara Melody), owned by her father – Tim McQuay – to a score of 224, the USA confirmed their supremacy in the team event established on Monday. On the first competition day, team members Andrea Fappani on Custom Cash Advance had obtained the top score (224) and Jordan Larson, riding HF Mobster, had earned the third best score (221).
The last rider representing the USA was NRHA $5 million rider Shawn Flarida. Riding Michel Kimball’s Spooks Gotta Whiz (Spooks Gotta Gun x Prettywhizprettydoes), Flarida performed an outstanding FEI pattern number six and as he concluded his run, the mark of 229.5 appeared on the scoreboard bringing Team USA’s total to 677.5.
The score remained unbeaten until the end of the competition.
“This is an awesome horse and I’ve been so fortunate to ride him for the last three years. I trust him completely and I know that he is very talented so I was afraid to be the one to make a mistake,” Flarida said. “The crowd here was wonderful and showing in front of such an enthusiastic audience was just great. My teammates couldn’t have been better and I am once again proud to represent my country with such outstanding horsemen and women,” he said.
Mandy McCutcheon, the only non-professional rider on the team and a winner of $2 million in NRHA earnings, was just as proud. “It’s an honour to be at this venue to represent my country. Riding a horse like Yellow Jersey is just unreal and I cannot thank my parents enough for giving me this opportunity and for trusting me with him,” an emotional McCutcheon said.
“Today I really tried hard to focus on what I had to do and tried to get him through the run as best I could. It’s all a matter of being focused because if you let all that this event represents get in your way, you could panic,” she said.
Team-mate, Italian native Andrea Fappani, said eight years ago his goal was to take part in the Games. “I didn’t make it in 2010 but I’m very honoured and proud to be here today. My heart is in Italy but I have to thank the USA for giving me the opportunity to be where I am today. This is the reason for my decision to represent the Stars and Stripes.”
Jordan Larson, who has been showing HF Mobster since 2011, was also thrilled with the result. “It takes a very special horse to achieve these goals and I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to ride HF Mobster, aka ‘Hamster’, to an FEI gold medal,” he said.
Team silver to Belgium
Ann Poels Fonck, riding Nic Ricochet, and Piet Mesdagh aboard RS Spat Man O War had scored 221 and 216.5 respectively on the first competition day. On the second day Cira Baeck rode Colonels Shining Gun (Colonels Smoking Gun x Shining Little Peach), owned by Katarzyna Roleska, to a score of 221. The talented pair were second to go.
“We started off really well today then I made a couple of little mistakes, so I am not super happy with the way I rode, but I did my best,” Baeck said at the end of her performance. “Four years ago we won the silver medal in Kentucky and I was really hoping to bring home a second one. We did that and I am thrilled.”
The fourth team member was Bernard Fonck aboard Sail On Top Whizard (Whizard Jac x Miss N Sis), owned by Danny Cerato. He closed his run on 219.5 and Belgium held the second highest total score (663). “I’m very lucky to ride such a great horse who has won close to $300,000 in lifetime earnings but today I did not show him to the best of my ability,” Fonck said. “I am very proud of my teammates and of this second consecutive FEI silver medal and I will try to make up for my mistake in the individual competition on Saturday.”
Team coach, Susy Baeck, was quick to praise all the riders, the owners, the veterinarians and the grooms for all their help which contributed immensely to the team’s achievement.
Historic bronze for Austria
The bronze medal was determined after the third to last combination – Alex Ripper (GER) riding Awesome Paleboy – showed. Australia with 653 points, Germany (646.5), and Austria (644.5) were all possible contenders for the podium. Thanks to Martin Muehlstaetter’s score of 224, aboard Wimpys Little Buddy, Austria slid to the third step of the podium for the bronze medal. Martin is based in the US and qualified for the Games at events in Europe and the USA.
“My horse was pretty good today,” Ripper said of his 10-year-old gelding by Wimpys Little Step and out of All That’s Dun (owned by Kim & Martin Muehlstaetter). “We purchased him from Andrea Fappani, who trained him, as a four-year-old. He’s always been with us and always will be. Winning this medal here today is awesome,” he said.
Austrian team members were Rudi Kronsteiner with Dr Lee Hook (221), Tina Kuenstner-Mantl with Cashn Rooster (214.5) and Markus Morawitz with Dun It Whiz Gerry (210).
The Reining judging panel at the Games consists of FEI 4* -level judges Pierre Ouellet (ITA), Rick LeMay (SWE), Sylvia Katschker (AUT), Rick Weaver (USA) and Maik Bartmann (GER).