News & Results

The Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team Takes Silver at FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final at CSIO5* Barcelona

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Barcelona, Spain – Sept. 30, 2017 – The Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team finished strong on Saturday evening at the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final at CSIO5* Barcelona, claiming second over Belgium. After technical issues with one of the stadium lights that caused nearly a two-hour delay in competition start time, the U.S. team of Lauren Hough, Laura Kraut, Beezie Madden and McLain Ward proved their experience and fortitude, finishing on a mere 4 faults. The U.S. team took home third in 2016, only to climb up the podium to second in 2017.

“Last year third, this year second. It was tremendous,” said U.S. Chef d’Équipe Robert Ridland. “Beezie [Madden] is on a young horse, a new combination, and it is fabulous. Same thing with Laura [Kraut] — that is a relatively new combination and the other two [Hough and Ward], perfection. We knew we were coming with a good team. There is no question about that. We had four veteran riders out there, but the combinations themselves were relatively new, and we really couldn’t be happier.”

Hough (Wellington, Florida) and Ohlala once again served as pathfinders for the U.S. team, riding their second clear round of the competition. The Ohlala Group’s 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare put in a flawless performance after a long wait to get started. Watch their ride here.

“I’ve actually never had that happen before,” said Hough of the competition delay. “I had to get the horse ready twice, and it was a lot of sitting around. I had to stay focused without letting that nervous energy bunch up too much. [Ohlala] was absolutely perfect. I’m thrilled, I’m absolutely thrilled.”

Kraut (Royal Palm Beach, Florida) and St. Bride’s Farm’s 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding Confu had a spectacular round but dropped one rail near the beginning of the course, serving as the U.S. team’s drop score. Madden (Cazenovia, New York), with Abigail Wexner’s 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion, Darry Lou, also dropped one rail. The U.S. team sat on 4 faults, tied with Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, headed into the fourth and final round.

With just 1 time fault, the Netherlands rode prior to the U.S. team. A clear round from Harrie Smolders and Don VHP Z meant a win for the Netherlands. U.S. anchors Ward (Brewster, New York) and HH Azur would compete against the clock for second. Ward and Double H Farm and François Mathy’s 11-year-old Belgium Warmblood mare did just that, delivering their second clear round of the competition and sealing second for the U.S. team.

“It felt like Rio all over again,” said Ward. “In that situation, you fight to be the best you can be on the day — that is my job, particularly as anchor, to be able to handle that. I knew that the time was going to be the factor so I tried to think about that on my round, and Azur performed beautifully. She felt really good. She felt brilliant the other day, brilliant today, maybe even better.”

With a second position finish, Ridland says the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team will now set their sights on the FEI World Equestrian Games™ (WEG) to be held in Tryon, North Carolina, in 2018.

“It was an unbelievably consistent week,” said Ridland. “We couldn’t be happier. This was one of our big priorities of the year. We feel we are on the right path, and at this point in time we start looking forward to WEG.”

Photo: ©Libby Law Photography

Source: Julian McPeak, US Equestrian communications department/USET.org

Team USA Captures Gold in BMO Nations Cup at Spruce Meadows

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Calgary, Alta. – Sept. 9, 2017 – The Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team clinched the gold medal in the BMO Nations Cup in front of more than 80,000 show jumping fans in the International Ring on Saturday during the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ CSIO5* Tournament.

The victorious U.S. team consisted of Lauren Hough, Charlie Jacobs, Lillie Keenan and Beezie Madden, led by Chef d’Équipe Robert Ridland.

Eight nations turned out for the first round of competition, where Team USA kicked things off as first in the order-of-go. Madden and Abigail Wexner’s Darry Lou produced the only clear finish of the first round, while the rest of the team incurred 4 faults each, thus concluding round one with 8 faults after dropping one 4-fault score.

The top six teams returned for round two, which included Team USA, Brazil, Belgium, France, Canada and Germany.

Sitting in third place tied with Canada and having completed Leopoldo Palacios’ enormous track once already, the U.S. horse-and-rider combinations returned for the second round of Nations Cup competition confident and ready to perform their best in order to move up in the standings. Madden and Darry Lou, Jacobs and CMJ Sporthorse LLC’s Cassinja S and Hough and Meredith Mateo’s Waterford all finished clear, while Keenan and Chansonette Farm LLC’s Fibonacci 17 collected 4 faults to be the drop score. As a result, Team USA added no faults to their name and finished round two on a total of 8 faults from round one.

In an exciting turn of events, the team from Brazil also concluded the second round of competition with 8 faults, causing Team USA and Team Brazil to face-off in a jump-off to determine the winner.

It was Madden who was chosen to represent Team USA in the jump-off. Aboard the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion, they crossed the finish line with no faults in 39.21 seconds. Brazil’s Pedro Junqueira Muylaert and Prince Royal Z MFS followed with another clear round, but just missed Madden’s time, finishing in 39.75 seconds and propelling Team USA to the top of the podium.

Saturday’s gold medal finish was the USA’s eighth Nations Cup podium appearance at Spruce Meadows and comes just as Team USA is gearing up to head to the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final in Barcelona, Spain, at the end of the month on Sept. 28.

“For Beezie to clinch this in a jump-off is indescribable,” expressed Ridland. “My team delivered. We had to crawl up the ladder a little bit. Brazil really set the bar early on, but that’s why it’s a two round class and they did the job.”

Photo: ©Cealy Tetley

Source: USET.org

U.S. Ladies Capture First All-Female Dublin Nations Cup Victory

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Team USA secured a definitive victory in the eighth and last leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2017 Europe Division 1 League in Dublin (IRL) today when producing the only zero score in a hard-fought competition. On level pegging with the Irish at the halfway stage they stood firm while their hosts lost their grip to drop to fifth behind Spain.

In the closing stages the Netherlands and France threw down a challenge, and American anchor Laura Kraut (51) was under pressure when last to go with Confu. But the double-Olympian didn’t crumble, posting the second US double-clear of the competition to seal it ahead of the runners-up from France, while the Dutch slotted into third place.

This was the first all-female team triumph in the 91-year history of Nations Cup Jumping for the world-famous Aga Khan Cup in Dublin.

“We said at the beginning of the year this was one of the shows we are bringing our “A” team to,” explained Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland. “It’s our view that the Aga Khan is the greatest trophy in our sport. And more than that there are many ways to win a Nations Cup, sometimes you get lucky, but today in my view there was no luck. These four riders did an unbelievable job!”

The time-allowed of 80 seconds proved difficult for many over Irish course-builder Tom Holden’s track, and a speedy turn to the final oxer was often costly. Beezie Madden’s (53) mistake here with her new ride Darry Lou was the American drop score in round one, but the pair got it absolutely right in round two after pathfinders Lauren Hough (40) and the brilliant mare Ohlala produced their second clear of the day and rising talent Lillie Keenan (20) made her only mistake at the first element of the penultimate double with Super Sox.

Kraut clinched it with a crisp, clear run to leave a five-fault margin between the winning U.S. side and the French in second while the points earned by the third-placed Dutch, whose final tally was just seven faults, saw them overtake Italy at the top of the Europe Division 1 leaderboard at the end of the eight-leg series.

Photo: ©Tori O'Connor

Source: USET.org

Lauren Hough & Ohlala Speed to a Big Bolesworth Win

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It might not have been her goal, but when Lauren Hough allows her small but mighty mount Ohlala to gallop, more often than not, she smashes through her competitor’s time to win.

That’s what happened on Friday, June 16, 2017 when the USA’s Hough was pitted last to go in a jumpoff of seven in the day’s feature ranking class at Bolesworth International Horse Show CSI4* in Tattenhall, England. The 1.50m jumpoff competition saw an entry list of 47 competitors, but with a very tight time allowed in Round 1, the jump-off order was kept short.

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Hough went late in the class and was the last clear of round one, which allowed her to watch first to go in the jumpoff, Great Britain’s Robert Smith. Aboard Ilton, Smith laid down a time of 43.06 seconds that held up all the way until Hough and Ohlala, a 13-year-old SWB mare (Orlando x Cardento), entered the ring.

“I wanted to still be ready for Sunday so I went what I felt was her comfortable speed, but she’s just naturally so quick across the ground,” Hough said. Ohlala was so quick that she won the class by a huge margin, in 40.91 seconds. “I absolutely did not expect to be two and a half seconds faster, that was not the goal!” Hough added. “But just going her own tempo, that sort of puts her there.”

With mostly CSI5* shows on her schedule, Hough targeted Ohlala for Bolesworth International to give her a good, solid show that fit into the summer’s bigger goals: performing on the Nations Cup teams for the United States in Aachen and Dublin. Hough’s longtime partnership with Ohlala—she’s had the mare since Ohlala was seven—helps her manage the partnership perfectly, and she’ll now be entering Sunday’s CSI4* Grand Prix at Bolesworth as one of the favorites.

Photos: Erin Gilmore for NF.com

Source: Noelle Floyd.com

USA Pips Netherlands In Nations Cup Thriller At Sopot

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Laura Kraut clinched victory for Team USA at the fifth leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Europe Division 2 series in Sopot, Poland today. But the 51-year-old double-Olympian had to ride for her life in the edge-of-the-seat third-round jump-off to beat Dutch teenager Sanne Thijssen (18) whose breathtaking performances with Con Quidam RB had the spectators riveted to their seats.

This was vintage Nations Cup competition, Olaf Petersen Jr’s testing track producing plenty of surprises including an unexpected early exit for experienced sides from Great Britain, Ireland, Norway and Russia along with the Polish hosts at the end of the first round. The Americans were well out in front with just a single time fault at the halfway stage, but the Dutch fought back from fifth place to chase them right down to the wire. Kraut knew what she had to do when following Thijssen against the clock.

“Sanne is a great rider, always very fast. Robert Ridland (USA Chef d’Equipe) told me you’ve got a fence to work with, so just try to out-race her so that you will beat her even if you have a fence down!” said Kraut.

Just two faults separated Hungary, Portugal, Czech Republic, Netherlands and Belgium as round two began, and the addition of just two more to their 11-fault total would leave the Dutch on level pegging with the Americans in the closing stages when Aniek Poels (Athene) and Doron Kuipers (Charley) collected single time faults and Thijssen’s spring-heeled stallion jumped spectacularly clear.

Team USA added 12 second time out, Lauren Hough (40) and Waterford fell victim to the penultimate triple combination and Paris Sellon (25) also faulted there and at the water with Cassandra. But 20-year-old Chloe Reid’s rounds with her sensational 10-year-old stallion Codarco were another highlight of a day when young riders simply sparkled, and when this pair followed their first-round clear with just a single mistake then Kraut’s second clear halted the American decline and confirmed a showdown with the Dutch.

Thijssen’s little wonder-horse posted the jump-off target at four faults in 38.03 seconds – “he’s special, there are not many horses like him, he’s so careful he wants to jump the course himself and forgets that I’m sitting on him!”, she said. But Kraut cranked up the speed after hitting the second fence to post the winning time of 36.29 seconds.

Photo: Photo Monskoo/FEI

Source: USET.org

Lauren Hough & Ohlala: A Mighty Triumph at the Great American Million

American Olympian Lauren Hough joined the “million dollar club” with her win in the Great American $1 Million Grand Prix on Sunday, March 26, 2017 at the HITS Ocala Circuit in Ocala, Florida. Hough rode her longtime partner Ohlala, a 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare (Orlando x Carrera) to first place in the class.

The final event of the 10-week winter circuit in Ocala, Florida was well attended, with a total of 49 first-round entries. German-born course designer Werner Deeg set a stout 1.60m track with challenging elements that would create some persistent problems for the horse and rider combinations. The first round featured a challenging triple combination that knocked out many riders from the jump-off round. It was the middle oxer of the 7 A/B/C combination that was consistently the trouble spot, though time allowed in the first round did not seem to be a factor. Fourteen combinations went clear and challenged each other for the big prize money.

Deeg commented on the comfortable time allowed, which led to a slightly larger jump-off field than he had hoped. “I agree completely that the time allowed was [a] little bit too comfortable. I measured twice and I had a difference of meters, so I decided to take the shorter one and [the time] was a bit long.” He also was very conscious of safety in the class, knowing he was building the course for a wide range of riders. Commenting on young rider Emily Moffitt’s dramatic fall, which occurred early in the class, Deeg said, “We have some top riders here and some not so experienced ones. I have to be aware of everybody. It was a little bit tough what we had happen with the second horse, but that happens sometimes in our sport.”

Among the other jump-off competitors were American household names including three-time million dollar grand prix winner and Olympian, McLain Ward; and two-time million dollar grand prix winner, Todd Minikus. Last weekend’s West Coast AIG $1 Million Grand Prix winner Mandy Porter also successfully navigated the first round.

The second round provided an intensity that reflected the larger group size of the jump-off and matched the high caliber of competitors. For the jump-off, the 7 A/B/C combination was condensed into an in-and-out, beginning with the oxer. The second pair to compete in the jump-off, Alberto Michan and GC Chopin’s Bushi, found difficulty at the 7 B/C element, as a slightly angled approach caused Michan’s mount to refuse, resulting in a dismount.

Jump-off competitors following Michan made sure to give their mounts a good look at the combination before beginning their round. British Olympic showjumper Ben Maher delivered the first double-clear round aboard Don Vito, with a jump-off time of 50.874. Maher was immediately followed up by McLain Ward and HH Callas, who were just a split second slower than Maher, with a jump-off time of 51.379.

However, it was Hough and Ohlala who had the fastest time of all. Hough went mid-way through the jump-off aboard her slightly built 15.2-hand mare. Mimicking the slice executed by Ward at the first jump, she and Ohlala kept up the quick pace throughout the course, not sparing a second to deviate from her jump-off plan. This confidence proved successful as the pair crossed the timers with a time of 48.966—a pace that proved unbeatable throughout the rest of the class.

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As she left the ring, Hough wasn’t sure the time would hold, however. Going mid-way through the jump-off, Hough said, “I was not feeling confident because there were seven more behind me, so it was a long wait. There were places where other horses left strides out, but I rode the fastest round I could with her. Obviously, you always need a little bit of luck on your side with events like these.”

Germany’s André Thieme was one rider who put particular pressure on Hough. The 2014 Great American $1 Million Grand Prix winner had just returned from a successful trip to California, where he competed in last weekend’s AIG $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Coachella. Thieme rode clear in the jump-off with a time that bested both Ward and Maher at 50.086, securing a 3rd place finish for him and his mount Conthendrix. Thieme earned fourth place last week in the AIG $1 Million class and, combined with his performance in the class today, has secured roughly $200,000 in prize money.

Near the end of the jump-off, Aaron Vale and Finou 4 were the closest to rival Hough’s blazing fast time. With Finou 4’s huge stride working in their favor, Vale galloped down to the final jump for a clear round. Unfortunately, he was half a second too late when he stopped the clock at 49.442. That time was enough to beat out other double clear contenders and assure Vale a 2nd-place finish.

Vale commented on his strategy going into the second round.

“In the jump-off, it’s the riders against each other but in the first round, it’s the riders against Werner [Deeg]. You’re trying to play to your horse’s strengths and avoid his weaknesses the best you can. We all rode the best round that suited our horse. That’s the cards we put on the table and that’s the order we finished in. We’re all pretty happy.”

Now that Ohlala is 13 years old, Hough said she is becoming more selective about the types of events the mare competes in. “I want to preserve her for as long as possible. I’m going to pick and choose the right venues for her and try to show her without over using her.” Hough is looking toward the LCGT event in Miami next and down the line, she hopes to show Ohlala in May at Hamburg. Hough says she is also keeping an eye on the WEG for 2018.

Both the top-finishing riders and Deeg commented on how the professionalism of HITS Ocala and the quality footing and jumps for the prestigious event helped to make the class such a success. Hough said, “I was lucky enough to come here for the week of the Nations Cup and I said to Tom [Struzzierri] how fantastic the footing was. I had a bit of a slow season with Lala. She wasn’t happy at WEF, so I pulled way back and made this class a real focus for this week.”

As Lauren Hough said at the outset of the press conference, she’s been knocking on the door for a while in her past performances in million dollar classes. Today, that door opened.

Photos:©Dominique Gonzalez for NF.

Source: Noelle Floyd.com