Team Mexico secured the 2016 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup North America, Central America and Caribbean League title with victory at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley (CAN) on Friday.
On home ground at Coapexpan Equestrian Club in Xalapa (MEX), the Mexican side broke a 26-year Nations Cup drought with an historic win at the end of April, and now that they have rediscovered their winning ways it seems they are on a roll. At Friday’s event they were already in the driving seat when the only one of the four competing nations to maintain a zero score at the end of the first round. And they held on to win comfortably, and without having to call up their last-line rider for a second time.
Team Canada filled runner-up spot ahead of Ireland in third, while the USA had to settle for fourth and last place. Following today’s result both Mexico and USA have earned a ticket to the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final which will take place in Barcelona (ESP) in September.
Canadian course designer, Peter Holmes, might have been tense at the start of the class when the first three riders completed his 12-fence track with relative ease. But then the faults started coming, and with 12 for the opening Mexican partnership of Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado and Tino la Chapelle (Mylord Carthago x Verdi) it wasn’t looking too good for the eventual winners in the early stages.
Salgado was the only member of the Coapexpan winning side to line out again today, and his nine-year-old French gelding jumped an erratic round on his first tour of the fences. But when Patricio Pasquel came home clear despite a few exciting moments, and that was followed by two more foot-perfect runs from Francisco Pasquel with Naranjo (Robin II Z x Quappa *HN) and Alberto Michan with Gigolo van de Broekkant (Heartbreaker x Concorde), then Mexico led the way into round two with a clean sheet.
Lying second at this stage were the Irish, counting only the eight faults collected by newcomer James Chawke with Eros H (Emilion x Saygon) as the nine picked up by Jennifer Crooks could be discounted when both pathfinder Daniel Coyle and anchorman Conor Swail were fault-free. Team USA were close behind with nine on the board, both Karl Cook and Christine McCrea leaving two fences on the floor and also collecting a time fault but Jonathan McCrea and Rich Fellers each jumping clear.
Meanwhile the host nation was trailing the field with 14 faults on their score-card. Tiffany Foster led the way with a foot-perfect run from Victor (Elmshorn x Grandeur), but a mistake at the open water for Ben Asselin and Veyron (Concerto Grande x Heartbreaker) and the 10 faults collected by 2008 Olympic champion Eric Lamaze when Coco Bongo (Caretino x Calido) threw in a stop at the first element of the penultimate double, had to be counted when third-line rider, Amy Millar, returned with 13 faults on the board for the team discard.
The Canadians rallied so brilliantly in the second round that Lamaze didn’t need to jump again however because his team-mates added nothing at all to their tally this time out. So when the Irish picked up eight more, despite double-clears from both Coyle and Swail, to leave them on a final total of 16 and the Americans also added eight to finish with 17, then the home runners would line up in second place.
Mexico’s Salgado produced a much more settled round from Tino la Chapelle at their second attempt. And although Patricio Pasquel fell victim to the difficult vertical that followed the open water, and his brother Francisco Pasquel’s Naranjo put a foot in the water and also clipped the oxer at fence 10 for an eight-fault second-round result, that still only brought the Mexican total to 12. With a two-fault advantage over their nearest rivals and hosts, there was no need for Alberto Michan to return to the ring. It was mission accomplished, and a second consecutive win for the Mexican contingent.
Their Chef d’Equipe, Norman Dello Joio, was well pleased. “The main goal when I first started helping Mexico was to get the level up. They were hitting bottom and the idea was to start from scratch and reshuffle the deck. It was the main aim to start pulling together as a team and I think I have helped doing that. There is a very positive atmosphere in this Mexican team, especially also amongst the riders that competed for us in both Ocala and Xalapa. We are now going to start really setting up for the Olympics and then get the most competitive team out in Barcelona (for the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final) as well. We are then going to start building for the next Olympic Games in 2020 after that,” he explained.
The most experienced Mexican team member, double-Olympian Alberto Michan, agreed. “We needed to do something very special because we had a bad year last year so we had to take a check and start from scratch again. We knew we needed to do things more professionally and we started so well this season and finished as league leaders. It has been really exciting for us and very motivating for us to do things better every time now,” he said.
Talking about today’s course he continued “Peter Holmes did a great job for sure. It was hard, you had to really ride the course, uphill and downhill it was tricky for some horses. When the competition started with Canada and USA having clear rounds that was a bit tough but when we had three clear rounds it was very motivating for us. A win is a win and I was very happy to be part of such a great team. And now I’m very happy that we will be going to Barcelona!”
Patricio Pasquel talked about the importance of this victory, and how it came about. “I want to thank everybody at Thunderbird. Our horses came two weeks ago and if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have been able to do it. Of course, riding in any Nations Cup gives you more pressure. Riding for your country is so special and difficult, mainly because you aren’t just jumping for yourself. We should all be very proud that we rode very well. All the guys here deserve it. The course designer put up a good test, and we’re just very happy to have won this!”
Source: Press release from the FEI // Picture © Rebecca Berry/FEI
This photo has been added to your cart !Your shopping cart »