The powerhouse U.S. show jumping team of Kent Farrington, Reed Kessler, Laura Kraut and Beezie Madden earned victory in Friday night's $75,000 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ presented by G&C Farm, at the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. Teams representing seven different countries participated in the evening's competition with a win for Team USA over Canada in second and Germany in third.
Friday's nights Nations Cup competition consisted of two rounds shown over a challenging course set by Anthony D'Ambrosio of Red Hook, NY. Teams of four represented the countries of Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Germany, USA, Colombia and Venezuela.
After the first round, each team dropped their highest score. In the second round, all seven teams returned in order of highest to lowest total faults. The winner was determined by the lowest total of each team's top three riders from each round.
The winning team from the United States was represented by Kent Farrington and RCG Farm's Uceko, Reed Kessler and her Cylana, Laura Kraut and Cherry Knoll Farm, Inc.'s Cedric, and Beezie Madden riding Abigail Wexner's Simon under the guidance of new Chef d'Equipe Robert Ridland.
In round one, Farrington had four faults aboard Uceko and Kessler, Kraut and Madden all jumped clear rounds to lead the way into the second phase of competition. In round two, Farrington and Kessler each jumped clear rounds, Kraut and Cedric had four faults, and when it was determined that the USA could not be beat, the team decided that Madden and Simon did not have to jump. They finished on a two round total of four faults for the victory.
Beezie Madden had a little trouble at the water in round one but still jumped clear for her team. She noted, "I probably had the most interesting round. Other than the water jump, he felt great. He was fantastic. I looked at the scoreboard afterwards; I thought he was clear of it. I knew he hit the box, but that was probably putting it mildly. I was just happy he recovered from that and he finished off with a clear."
Eighteen-year-old Reed Kessler had her first win as well as her first double clear in a Nations Cup class and was very excited.
"To ride on the home team in front of the home crowd is a really big honor so I'm thrilled that it went the way it did," Kessler smiled. "Cylana was awesome. She has shown pretty lightly all of circuit to prepare for this. It's my favorite thing when I ride her to hear the crowd scream and she gets so animated and so wild. When she heads to the first jump, she has total focus. She could not have done better."
Kent Farrington had a rail in round one but came back strong for the second round. He commented, "I've known that horse a little while and our first ride wasn't our best. Towards the end of the round he just got too strong and he took over at the last oxer. I was actually pleased with how he came back in the second round. He performed more like himself and was more relaxed."
Laura Kraut had a great night with Cedric and enjoyed winning on home turf.
"I was thrilled with Cedric tonight," Kraut smiled. "Both rounds he was fantastic. The second round I was maybe a little overly cautious down the last line and he had such a light rub. I think he thinks he was double clear. I think he's pleased right now. As Reed said, it was very comforting to ride tonight. Normally, I would be very tense about riding in front of the home crowd, but when you have three horse/rider combinations going with you, I felt pretty comfortable that if I did something really stupid they'd be there to back me up. I'm thrilled that we won and I'm really happy for Robert because he was really nervous. He just sort of listened to what we thought we wanted to do and supported us. We're all getting to know each other and our new system. But I think it worked quite well."
Chef d'Equipe Robert Ridland was very happy with him team and admits to being a little nervous.
"I was told I was pacing a lot," Ridland laughed. "What do you do? For me, this has been a long journey and great to get here. It was about a year ago that I was named coach and we went through the Olympic trials and all that. At the same time, Furusiyya and the FEI changed the Nations Cup and there are a lot of us that feel this is one of the best things that will have happened to the sport in a long time. It will revive the Nations Cup. We knew this was going to be a really big deal coming in being a qualifier for the Final and we made it a huge priority before the beginning of the year, not only to try to win this, but to be in a good position for the Final."
Friday night's Canadian team consisted of Eric Lamaze and Morningside Stud & Torrey Pines Stables' Wang Chung M2S, Tiffany Foster and Artisan Farm LLC's Victor, Mac Cone and Chadburn Holdings, Inc.'s Amor van de Rostal as well as Ian Millar and Ariel and Susan Grange's Dixson with Chef d'Equipe Mark Laskin.
In round one, Lamaze had five faults for a rail and one time fault, Foster and Millar jumped clear, and Mac Cone was eliminated for the drop score. All four riders continued on into round two where Lamaze, Foster and Millar all jumped clear. Mac Cone's score was once again dropped to leave the team on five faults total for their second place finish.
Third place finisher, Team Germany, included Janne Friederike Meyer aboard Meyer, Friedrich and Anne Sophie's Cellagon Lambrasco, Johannes Ehning and Nybor Pferde GMBH & Co. KG's Salvador V, Andre Thieme and his Contanga 3, and Daniel Deusser aboard Stephex Stables & Pedro Veniss's Cornet d'Amour headed by Chef d'Equipe Dietmar Gugler.
In round one, Germany dropped Ehning's score of eight and kept Meyer's four fault score and Theime's one time fault with a clear round from Daniel Deusser. In round two, Deusser once again jumped clear, Meyer was clear, and Ehning and Theime each had four faults, one of which was dropped. The team finished on five faults from round one and four faults from round two for a nine point total.
The fourth place team from Ireland finished with eleven faults. Other teams included Colombia, who finished on a score of 41 to place fifth, Venezuela, who had a two round total of 48 to finish sixth, and Mexico, who finished on a score of 59 to place seventh.
All in all, there were five double clear rounds for the night, including Reed Kessler, Tiffany Foster, Ian Millar, Daniel Deusser and Cian O'Connor on Splendor. Foster was especially enthusiastic about her performance aboard Victor.
The 2013 season has seen the introduction of a new formula for the FEI Nations Cup™. Following a new sponsorship deal with the Saudi Equestrian Fund, this historic series will now be known as the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™. Under the new rules, the world has been divided into six regions for the purpose of qualifying teams for a World Final. The six regions are Europe 1 and 2, North America, South America, Middle East, Asia and Africa.
On behalf of Furusiyya, HH Prince Faisal Al Shalan was present for the class and commented on the evening. "First of all we are very happy for the American team for their win today," he stated. "They were amazing and they had really good horses coming in. The other teams also performed really well and it was very close."
"To start off, Furusiyya is a single Arabic word and it is based on embracing the idea of horsemanship, chivalry and equestrian knowledge in general," he added. "The term is a derivation of 'faris,' the horseman and the horse, so it's a combination of both. In time, Furusiyya will become the brand name under which Saudi Arabian equestrian products will be licensed and marketed. To date, there is a perfume called Furusiyya which is a product for sale in Saudi Arabia. It is our duty in Saudi equestrian to sponsor Saudi equestrian activities for the nobility. Not only in the narrow sense of their history and heritage, but rather in the cultural and behavioral aspects that surround the sport in celebration of the horse. It has instilled chivalry, honor, value and virtue. This is the essence of our mission in the Saudi Equestrian Fund-the connection between horse and rider is universal and we are fortunate that the horse is so noble that they allow us to share their strength and passion."
Class and weekly sponsor Gustavo Mirabal of G&C Farm also spoke about the evening. "I am very proud to again be the Nations Cup sponsor as well as many FEI classes," Mirabal stated. "I think we have to do this in America-more FEI classes and more FEI points so we can have more riders in the top of the world. I recognize all of the American riders as amazing riders and people, and I am proud to be the sponsor."
Also commenting on the class, John Madden, representing the FEI, noted, "I think we witnessed a little bit of history tonight. This is the first Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup here in North America. Last week we witnessed it in Abu Dhabi and we think it's a really bright future for our sport."
"I would like to, on behalf of the FEI, thank the USEF as our host federation and ESP, Michael (Stone) and everybody for a great job this evening," Madden acknowledged. "I think we really have to thank Gustavo and G&C. They really bring the hemisphere together. They bring the Americas together like a family and we really have to thank His Highness Prince Faisal and Furusiyya. Thank you, on behalf of the FEI for bringing the world together."
Equestrian Sport Productions' CEO Mark Bellissimo added, "I'd also like to thank the sponsors and His Highness. This is an amazing start of a tradition in the United States and it is great that the U.S. team was able to prevail here. Canada and Germany also did very well and I think we're just pleased to have top sport in Wellington."
"I'd like to thank my friend Gustavo Mirabal, who stepped up very early in our ownership of this and has just been an amazing sponsor and supporter through all dimensions of the sport," Bellissimo said. "It takes great sponsors to elevate the sport in the United States and we hope this is a relationship for many years to come. Again, we thank the FEI and USEF for creating the platform for this great demonstration."
Source: Lauren Fisher and Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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