The 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) hosted its Hollow Creek Farm FEI Children's, Junior, and Young Rider Nations' Cups on Saturday, March 5, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. In its fourth year, the series drew riders from nine different countries to compete throughout CSIO week in Wellington, FL. On Saturday, Mexico won the Children's Nations' Cup, and USA topped the Junior and Young Rider Nations' Cup classes.
Week eight of the Winter Equestrian Festival concludes on Sunday, March 6, featuring the $216,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSIO 4*. The 12-week WEF circuit runs through April 3 offering more than $9 million in prize money.
Three separate Nations' Cup competitions were held for the children's, junior, and young rider divisions on Saturday thanks to the generous sponsorship the Andrade family and Hollow Creek Farm. Competition consisted of two rounds for each division shown over a course set by USA's Steve Stephens and Ken Krome. The riders showed in their first round of competition in the afternoon and returned for round two in the evening. After each round, each team dropped their highest score. The winner was determined by the lowest total of each team's top three riders from each round.
The $5,000 Hollow Creek Farm FEI Young Rider Nations' Cup saw a win for Team USA, finishing on just one time fault over Brazil in second with a score of 13, and Ireland third with a score of 15.
The U.S. Young Rider Team, coached by Chef d'Equipe DiAnn Langer, included Kelli Cruciotti (18) and Serenity Equestrian Ventures' Chamonix H, Alexandra Crown (20) aboard her own Von Cim, Madison Goetzmann (15) riding her own Wrigley, and Victoria Colvin (18) aboard Springfield Showjumpers' Zidane.
"I think you can say that America's got talent," Langer said after the team's fantastic finish. "It is extraordinary the talent that we have in this country. This is just an extraordinary group of girls. Their accomplishments are huge. We had many applicants for this team and all of them were fantastic. This group of girls really brought it home and when they were asked to step up and do this they said, 'Yes, we are here,' so I am really proud of them."
Cruciotti, of Elizabeth, CO, trains with her mother, Cindy Cruciotti, along with Peter Lutz. On Saturday night, the rider had one time fault in round one and returned to jump a clear in round two with her mount, Chamonix H.
"My first round, I went first and I was a little slow, so I had a time fault," Cruciotti detailed. "My plan for the second round was to clean up the spots where I went a little wide, to try to shave off that time, and she jumped amazing. I cannot thank DiAnn Langer enough for the opportunity to be on the team and be here tonight."
"It is really special to get to ride on a team, especially one like this with an amazing group of people," Cruciotti added. "We do not get the opportunity to ride on teams that much here, especially with the age that we are all at, so to get to spend the whole week in FEI as a team and learning how to not just work for yourself but function as a whole team, watching each other and helping in the schooling area, was a really good experience. When you get to wear the jacket and be part of the team it is a feeling that you do not get that often."
Crown, of New York, NY, trains with Kent Farrington and jumped double clear rounds with her mount, Von Cim, on Saturday. "She is the most perfect horse in the world," Crown praised. "My first round tonight I was very fast. I made sure to go under the time allowed and so the goal for the second round was to tone it down a little bit. She is really naturally quick and really competitive and careful."
Crown has jumped on an Under 25 team, but has never competed on a Prix de States or Nations' Cup team and had a great first experience. "It was incredible," she stated. "I was really excited when I heard that I was selected for the team. It was one of my goals for the winter season, to jump on this team, so I was very happy. It was really cool to be able to represent my country and of course to win was great.
"It is such an incredible feeling," Crown continued. "It has always been a dream of mine to be able to ride for the United States on teams, and I am so appreciative to DiAnn and the entire USET for giving us the opportunity. It is very special, and when they play your country's anthem, it is a very special feeling."
Goetzmann, of Skaneateles, NY, trains with John and Beezie Madden and had the drop score of four in round one and a clear trip in round two with her mare, Wrigley. "Our first round, we ended up with a foot in the water," Goetzmann detailed. "So our plan in the second round was to ride a little more aggressive to the water, and she really stepped up and jumped the water amazing, and finished the course beautifully."
"It is really an amazing experience to ride on these teams," Goetzmann noted. "Two years ago I was competing on the children's team, last year I was on the junior team, and this year I was on the young rider team, and I think DiAnn has done a tremendous job developing all of the riders to be more experienced and ride better together as a team."
"I think we all have aspirations to compete on the higher levels with the seniors and do more difficult tracks, so competing as a team when we are younger is an amazing experience," Goetzmann said. "Standing on the podium and listening to the national anthem is definitely a great feeling."
Colvin, of Loxahatchee, FL, was the anchor rider for her team, and jumped a clear in round one and did not need to return for the second round since her teammates had already secured the victory. She trains with Andre Dignelli at Heritage Farm and was aboard Zidane, a newer mount this year."I only got the opportunity to do the first round, which for me was fantastic," Colvin said of the day's events. "He went around the course amazing, so I was very happy with him and how he went."
"I have never been in this competition before," Colvin stated. "I have done Prix de States a couple times, but I have never done anything like this, and I am very appreciative to have a fantastic opportunity like this. It is nice to know that you are competing for your country, and whether you are good or bad, you are trying to do your best. It is an important step forward for your career."
The young rider team from Brazil finished second with Yasmim Almendros Marinho Santos riding Jorge Rodriguez Carneiro's Piaf de Quintin, Anna Victoria de Lorenzi Campelo aboard her own Fleur de Vauxelles, Giulia del Canton Scampini with Constantino Scampini's Keep on Fighting, and Joao Victor Castro riding Madame Sandrine Gitton's Quentin PJ, led by Chef d'Equipe Caio Carvalho.
The third place team from Ireland included Cormac Hanley with Missy Clark and Stephex Stables' Twan, Noelle Barry aboard Spy Coast Farm's Venturo 9, Paraic Kenny riding Jennifer Gates' Pepperpot, and Jenny Rankin on Colorland's Cheyenne, owned by Richard Bourns. The team was coached by Michael Blake and John Ledingham.
USA Tops Hollow Creek Farm FEI Junior Nations' Cup
The win in the $2,500 Hollow Creek Farm FEI Junior Nations' Cup once again went to the U.S. team over Brazil in second and Ireland third. The Junior Team for USA was made up of Emily Moffitt (17) aboard Poden Farms' For Sale 6, Kira Kerkorian (17) and Lisa Kerkorian's Nightfire 25, Emma Heise (16) with Old Willow Farms' Quentucky Jolly, and Brett Burlington (17) riding Alden Burlington's Bluf, with Chef d'Equipe DiAnn Langer.
USA finished on a three-fault score with just two time faults in round one and one time fault in round two. Moffitt and Kerkorian each had one of the time faults in round one, Heise was the drop score with an unfortunate elimination, and Burlington jumped clear. In round two, Moffitt had the drop score of four faults, Kerkorian and Heise each jumped clear, and Burlington finished on just one time fault.
Speaking of her winning team and the fantastic event, Langer stated, "I think that it is absolutely necessary to send our thanks forward to Hollow Creek Farm and to Equestrian Sport Productions for developing our young riders for the future. These girls are our future, and this competition is one of the very most important markers as far as high performance is concerned in the United States. Talking with the other chefs here developing their young riders, they feel the same."
Each of the U.S. riders spoke of their rounds and the experience that they have gained competing in the Nations' Cup events this year. "I think having this event is a great experience to get your first Nations' Cup under your belt at a young age," said Emma Heise, of Wellington, FL. "You learn the pressure of competing with a team, being under the lights, and jumping the water under the lights. I think it is a great first experience at what we will hopefully be doing in the future."
Heise, who trains with Nick Skelton and Laura Kraut, had a bit of trouble in her first round with Quentucky Jolly, but redeemed herself with a clear trip in round two. "My first round was a little bit of a training round," Heise admitted. "My horse handled it better than I did. I got a little star-struck by being on the team, but then the second round he really pulled through, and I actually rode it and helped him a little bit more and it ended up going well."
Emily Moffitt, of Los Angeles, CA, also trains with Skelton and Kraut and had a great night with her mount, For Sale 6. "The first round was great. I got one time fault from .01 seconds, so that was a little frustrating, but the second round was even better," Moffitt noted. "I thought it was much more smooth. I could have definitely supported her out of the combination, but she is great and I am in love with her."
Moffitt also spoke of her first Nations' Cup team experience, stating, "I think the essential part of competing in a Nations' Cup is learning how to deal with the pressure of jumping with a team. I had the drop score of four and that happens; you can't get upset, and I think it is really great to learn it at such a young age."
Kira Kerkorian, of Sagaponack, NY, trains with Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and was also competing on her first Nations' Cup team with her mount, Nightfire 25. "The first round I also had a time fault, so the second round I wanted to come in and just go in with a nice pace, and do a nice time," Kerkorian detailed. "I was able to go clear, which I am really happy about. My horse was amazing."
"It is a great experience and you learn how to ride as a team and how every ride counts no matter what," Kerkorian added. "I am so thankful to the sponsors for providing this for us."
Brett Burlington, of Miami, FL, was an alternate for the junior team two years ago and showed on the children's team three years ago. The anchor rider for Team USA, Burlington trains with Michael Delfiandra, Shane Sweetnam and Ali Sweetnam at Sweet Oak Farm.
Speaking of her rounds on Saturday, Burlington stated, "My first round I thought was really good. My horse jumped well and I made it around within the time allowed. Then in the second round, we already knew that we won at that point, so I was just going around to school the water under the lights and I had a time fault, but the rest was really good."
Speaking of the experience, Burlington continued, "I think team events are great because, for the most part, riding is such an individual sport because it is just you and your horse. When you are on a team and have other people that are supporting you and hoping that you do your best, it is a really great feeling."
The team from Brazil finished second with a 13-fault score. Their team included Frederico Morais Menezes Abdul-Hak riding Claudio M.A.M. Antelo's Salto Sela Platina Z, Nicolle Pantoja Margeotto and Eduardo Monaco's Chap Lando Z, Pedro Grandi Backheuser and Joao Pedro Backheuser's Uncle Berry, Victoria Junqueira and Heleine Horst Klaus's Una Bella 9, with Chef d'Equipe Caio Carvalho.
Ireland finished third on a score of 17 overall. Their team was Jack Ryan and Wood Run Farm's Mullaghdrin Rado, Phillip Carey with Matt Garrigan's Sterling un Prince, Jennifer Kuehnle riding Carl Hanley Sporthorses' Larineta, and Conor McMahon aboard Casinjo Ex Z. Their co-Chef d'Equipes were Michael Blake and John Ledingham.
Mexico Wins Hollow Creek Farm FEI Children's Nations' Cup
The Hollow Creek Farm FEI Children's Nations' Cup was first to go in the evening session and crowned the team from Mexico its 2016 winner. Mexico last won in 2014 and gained their place on the top of the podium this year with a perfect score of zero throughout both rounds of competition. USA finished second and Brazil placed third.
The Mexican team included Franco Huesca Perez (13) aboard Jaime Azcarraga's Brigitte B, Nicole Velazco Magana (12) riding Jose Ignacio Valenzuela's Dreamer, Jose Maria Quintana Melgoza (13) with Alberto Aldana M's Romarin de Louzes, and Luciana Gonzalez Guerra (13) riding H.R.M. Melse's Zidane. They were led by Chef d'Equipe Mauricio Guerra.
After their win, Guerra spoke of his team's great day, stating, "I am very proud of all of these riders. They won a National Championship in December and at that moment they got the qualification to come here. As you see, they do a very good job, and that is why they won."
The riders also commented on their winning efforts and each thanked the people who support them in their riding. "I am very happy because my dream came true because of my team, so thank you to the team," said Luciana Gonzalez Guerra.
Nicole Velazco Magana, remarked, "I am really thankful for this. I am really thankful for my trainers, and my mom, and all of the people who have supported me. I did not think this would happen."
Jose Maria Quintana Melgoza shared his feelings, stating, "I am very glad for all the work of all of my team. I am glad of the effort and all of the sacrifices I made to finally be here. I want to say thank you to my dad, to my mom, and to all of my family that was there for me."
Melgoza also commented on competing in Wellington, adding, "We love it here. I have never seen this paradise with all of these jumps and all of these rings. It is the best show."
Franco Huesca Perez concluded, "I am very glad to win. Thanks to my dad, to my mom, to my sister, and to my trainer. We think we are a good team, and we worked hard to be here."
The team from USA finished second on a score of four faults overall. The U.S. children's team included Catalina Peralta riding Wendy Peralta's Cruz Z, Ava de Caster aboard her own Campbel, Ellie Ferrigno with Maarten Huygen's Femke K, and Genevieve Munson riding Kama Godek's Calahan. They were led by Chef d'Equipe DiAnn Langer.
Brazil finished third on an eight-fault total. Their children's team was made up of Carolina Chade Souza riding Alexandre Saddy Chade's Twinkel Z, Philip Greenlees aboard Edson Fragnan's Eros B, Otaviano Vilaca with Rodrigo Otaviano Vilaca's Quadino Infant, and Lys Katherine Park Kang riding Laura Kim Park Kang's Capuava Jmen, led by Chef d'Equipe was Caio Carvalho.
Also competing in the International Ring on Saturday, the $35,000 1.45m Classic was held first in the morning with a win for Lisa Goldman (USA) aboard Hindsight. The $25,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic saw a win for Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) riding Stephex Stables and T&L NV's Halifax van het Kluizebos.
Source: Press release from Equestrian Sport Productions News // Photo © Sportfot.
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