Team USA won the third leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup 2015 series at the Coapexpan Equestrian Club in Xalapa, Mexico on Friday, where Team Mexico I put up a brilliant performance to finish a close second and Mexico II lined up third ahead of Canada in fourth place.
There were two qualification spots for the Furusiyya 2015 Final on offer to countries in the North America, Central America and Caribbean League. Following today’s thrilling competition, the leaderboard for the region shows USA in pole position on 200 points with Mexico and Canada tied on 170 points each. According to the rules, the tie is broken by taking clear rounds into account. Mexico has produced four clears over the two legs in this League, while Canada has posted three. As the CSIO Alberta (CAN) has been cancelled, the final standings show that Mexico will now join the USA in Barcelona, Spain in September.
And a new young American star emerged this afternoon, with a brilliant performance from 25-year-old Ali Wolff and her 10-year-old gelding Casall who produced the only double-clear performance of the day.
Great course design by Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge provided a fascinating contest. Wolff said this evening, “Gui did such an amazing job, he allowed the horses to get comfortable over the early fences, then the water rode longer than it looked, and after that it got more technical. There were oxers going uphill, and there was an awkward angle to the last” she explained.
The open water at fence five was 3.8m wide, but the majority of faults were racked up on the later part of the track, with the 1.60m-wide oxer at fence nine proving one of the main bogeys of the day. “It was uphill and wide, and horses had just landed off a short triple combination so you had to open them up again. It was a long nine (strides), and it was easy to get either too far off and get the back bar, or too deep and catch it in front,” Wolff said. Riders then swung left-handed to the final line that began with pale green planks followed by a double - oxer to vertical - before bending left again for the final oxer at fence 12 with its green poles and a bright blue water-try underneath. Several made it all the way without incident only to fault here.
The Canadians collected 17 faults in the first round and never recovered, adding 20 more second time out to complete on a total of 37.
The two Mexican teams however were sharing runner-up spot and were just one fence off the leading Americans at the halfway stage with eight on the board. Clears from both Wolff and her 10-year-old gelding who jumped like a cat, and anchor partnership Brianne Goutal with Nice de Prissey, ensured Team USA had to count only one of the single errors made by pathfinder Candice King (Kismet) and second-line rider Callan Solem (VDL Wizard) to hold the lead on a four-fault tally.
Mexico II, under the stewardship of Mauricio Guerra, started well again second time out with Salvador Onate (Cartier) and Alejandro Mills (Bartender) mirroring their first tour of the track with just four faults each. But when Gonzalo Azcarraga (Luminoso LS), son of Olympian Jaime Azcarraga, followed a first-round clear with 19 faults for a round that included a foot in the water and a stop at the first element of the triple combination, then Patricio Pasquel’s anchor ride with Careyes was critical. And with five fences on the floor, the team’s finishing score of 35 left them only just ahead of the Canadians.
Mexico I, however, was the host nation team chosen to battle for qualifying points, and when Nicolas Pizarro Suarez followed his opening clear with just four faults from Colasko at the very last fence, and Sofia Larrea and the adorable grey stallion Jumex Sport Archimedes followed their single error at the final oxer with a clear this time out, then the team guided by Antonio Maurer was still very much in the race. And when Manuel Rodriguez and Wick improved from a 12-fault first effort to just put a foot in the water this time out then things were looking very good indeed.
But the Americans never lost their grip on the lead, and although King collected five faults for a mistake at the tricky oxer at nine along with a time fault, they couldn’t be beaten once Solem and Wolff were both footperfect. Mexico 1’s Antonio Chedraui (Aristotelis) did a great job to leave the course intact at his second attempt, but his side’s finishing score of 12 would still leave them behind the Americans.
Goutal improved the winning margin when replacing King’s five faults by just four to round it down to a final total of eight faults.
“This was a fabulous course, great credit to the course designer”, said US Chef d’Equipe, Robert Ridland. “Walking the course out there it was obvious that it was not a level field in the arena, there are places that are higher than others so the course designer was clever enough to play around with that. Having said that, the footing is the best I have seen in the world and the horses would definitely second that. It really was a true Nations Cup course out there, it ticked all the boxes,” he said.
He said his was a “special” team. “We had a great dinner last night and underlined the importance of winning today. Qualifying for the Nations Cup Final was absolutely key for us, and definitely extremely high up our priority list for this calendar year. We wanted to win our division. I couldn’t be prouder, that was an amazing performance!” he declared.
1. USA 8 faults: Candice King with Kismet 50 (Kannan x Furioso I) 4/5, Callan Solem with VDL Wizard (Gentleman x Ahorn) 4/0, Ali Wolff with Casall (Casall x Capitol I) 0/0, Brianne Goutal with Nice de Prissey (Rosire x Amarpour) 0/4.
2. Mexico I, 12 faults: Nicolas Pizarro Suarez with Colaski (Colman x Granus) 0/4, Sofia Larrea with Jumex Sport Archimdes 4/0, Manuel Rodriguez with Wick I (Toulon x Chin Chin) 12/4, Antonia Chedraui with Aristotelis (Indoctro x Voltaire) 4/0.
3. Mexico II, 35 faults: Salvador Onate with Cartier (Cartoon x Sheyenne de Baugy) 4/4, Alejandro Mills with Bartender 4/4, Gonzalo Azcarraga with Luminoso LS (Lux Z x Tlaloc M) 0/19, Patricio Pasquel with Careyes (Converter x Landgold) 8/20.
4. Canada 37 faults: Erynn Ballard with Appy Cara (Guidam x Casco) 4/8, Kara Chad with Alberto II (Acorado x Cassini I) 8/8, Elisabeth Gingras with Zilversprings (Silverstone x Emilion) 5/4, Jonathon Millar with Calvin Klein (Cardento x Feliciano) 16/8.
Source: Press release from Louise Parkes/FEI.
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