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Thursday, March 30, 2017


U.S. leads in Nations Cup competition to qualify for Barcelona finals

Despite being defeated by Ireland in the two Nations Cup competitions held in this country, in the most critical aspect of these two events the U.S. leads Canada, Mexico and El Salvador in the race to qualify for the all important finals in Barcelona.

thumb beezieocalanc largeBeezie Madden on Breitling LSThe U.S. has 90 points towards qualifying for Barcelona from its second place finish in Ocala, but it’s dangerously close, as Canada has 80 points for its third place finish and Mexico has 70 for fourth, Columba was fifth and El Salvador withdrew after the first round while Venezuela was eliminated in the first round.

Two more Nations Cups remain for qualification, at the Coapexpan Equestrian Club in Xalapa in Mexico on Friday, May 5 and in Langley, Canada on June 2, and with only 20 points separating the U.s, Canada and Mexico anything can happen.

One of the most significant aspects of the two Nations Cup is that two completely different United States teams were fielded, showing a depth of horses and riders never enjoyed by the U.S. in the past.

When Robert Ridland took over as chef d’equipe after the London Olympics in 2012, he said that he would put one, two or three younger, unproved riders with two veterans, and that plan has resulted in success and, more importantly, in the depth that the U.S. now enjoys.

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Graves impresses with fifth score in the 80s in Wellington Large Tour

WELLINGTON, Fla.--Laura Graves, riding Verdades in their third "Friday Night Stars" competition on Feb. 24, won the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W, scoring 81.903 percent.

Laura Graves place far leftLaura Graves on Verdades"Tonight he was hot, maybe hotter than he's been the past two shows, so that was a bit challenging, and we have yet to ride a completely clean freestyle this year," said Graves of Wellington, Fla. "That's definitely a focus going into March, but this horse does a fantastic job even when he's hot and maybe a little spooky. He never lets me down, and he gets really excited when he's about to go in. He knows when it's his turn, and I love that about him."

This is Graves' and Verdades' fifth score in a row of 80 percent or higher in FEI Large Tour competition.

Placing second and third to Graves in the Freestyle were her fellow 2016 Olympic teammates and bronze medalists, Kasey Perry-Glass of Wellington riding Dublet and Steffen Peters of San Diego, Calif., riding Rosamunde.

"It's so fun to have everyone back together and to see friendly faces,” said Graves. “We are all so competitive. We're all out there riding for two spots for the FEI World Cup Finals. It doesn't affect our relationships outside of that. It's amazing to have friends that can compete against each other and want the best for each other. I just wish Steffen didn't live in California."


"I WAS expecting a little bit of a nervous horse today,” said Perry-Glass. “My trainer Debbie McDonald and I have been working tirelessly on his relaxation, and he proved it tonight. All of our hard work and dedication is to that, to his happiness in the ring. He showed me tonight that he has more in him and that he loves his job. I really liked our piaffe passage tour. Everything about the test was fun for me."

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Boyd Martin threepeats in $100,000 Wellington Eventing

WELLINGTON, Fla.-Boyd Martin of Cochranville, Pa., rode Welcome Shadow to win the $100,000 Wellington Eventing Showcase held Feb. 3 -4 in Wellington, emerging victorious for the third year in a row.

“This is a fantastic event,” said Martin. “It’s organized by people who have nothing to do with eventing, so they come in with a fresh and innovative way of doing things.”

“They’re bringing the glitz and glamor from show jumping and dressage to eventing,” Martin said.

The event is held at Equestrian Village at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, the former polo fields situated between the horse show grounds and the dressage show grounds and is produced by Equestrian Sport Productions.

boydBoyd Martin on Welcome Shadow“This event is right at the beginning of the year,” said Martin. “There hasn’t been any eventing for a couple of months, so I’m always raring to go, and to go down to Palm Beach is a real treat.”

This was the third time eventing was held in Wellington, and Martin has won it every time.

He won it last year on Blackfoot Mystery and in 2015 on Trading Aces.

From a starting field of 39, Martin won with a score of 27.30, following a dressage score of 26.5, a clean show jumping round and just .8 time penalties on a clean jumping cross country round.

Buck Davidson of Riegelsville, Pa., was second on Carlevo on a score of 30.9, and Doug Payne of Aiken, S.C., was third on Vandiver with 34.2.

"This year was by far the hardest one to win,” said Martin. “It was a much more competitive field; the caliber of horses was the best we've seen here. I've got to say, the show jumping was bigger and wider. I think the show jumping was even bigger than at Rolex. The cross-country was a real test. I think that it's been good that they've gently built it up like this, but the cross-country was influential this year compared to other years.”

“Welcome Shadow is a fantastic horse to win an Event of this caliber,” said Martin. “She’s a funny horse. She’s not the fastest or the biggest mover, but she’s by far the biggest tryer. I’m finding that’s the most important thing for an event horse. This horse has more heart and more desire.”

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Springsteen speeds to win over 76 competitors at WEF, Ward wins $380,000 GP and Little returns to win after bad fall

WELLINGTON, Fla.,--Jessica Springsteen of Colts Neck, N.J., rode Tiger Lily to win the $35,000 1.45m speed class on Feb. 8 at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington. on far rightJessica Springsteen on Tiger LilyOf the 76 entries in the speed class, 25 had clear rounds.

Last to go, Springsteen guided Stone Hill Farm's Tiger Lily to the win in 57.27 seconds, beating the lead previously held by Leslie Howard on Donna Speciale of 58.36 seconds.

Brazil's Luiz Francisco de Azevedo on Collin was third in 59.42 seconds, and Shane Sweetnam of Ireland on Cobolt finished fourth in 59.65 seconds.

"I saw a lot of rounds before I went today," Springsteen said. "I knew what I had to do, which is always a nice advantage of going last. I actually added strides in places where other people left out, but she is just so fast on her own. I don't even have to kick; I just loosen the reins and she goes."

Springsteen purchased Tiger Lily, a 10-year-old Oldenburg mare (Balou du Rouet x Domino), at the end of 2015.

She showed her in Wellington for the first time last winter and spent last year traveling around the world.

"She’s very feisty," Springsteen said. "She always wants to go, so I have to do my best to keep her stride short and together. She is jumping again tomorrow, so I was not sure if I should go forward today, but she has so much energy that it was a good course for her. She felt great."

While previously training with Edwina Tops-Alexander and Jan Tops in Europe, Springsteen found Tiger Lily showing under Massimo Grossato of Italy.

"I actually was not even supposed to try her," Springsteen said. "When Edwina and Jan were going to see her, I just decided last minute to go with them. I immediately loved her.


TWO-TIME Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward rode his Rio Olympic team silver medal mount HH Azur to win the $380,000 Grand Prix CSI 5* for the second year in a row on Feb. 25. Beating a starting field of 39, 12 of which, including eight Olympians, three of the top-ten ranked riders in the world, and an Olympic champion, qualified for the timed jump-off.

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Chapot takes Winterfest by storm

WELLINGTON, Fla.—Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, N.J., stormed her was back into the Winter Equestrian Festival, winning five classes, placing second in three and taking first, third and fourth in a class of 56 entries during the first week of competition, Jan.11-15.

Then she only got better, staking her claim to win the Leading Open Jumper Rider title yet again.

Laura Chapot on Dual StarLaura Chapot on Dual StarChapot has 468 points, more than double that of second place, and her Mother Mary leads in the Leading Open Jumper Trainer category.

Chapot rode ISHD Dual Star to a fourth place finish in the $130,000 Grand Prix on Jan. 28, and then she won the round four of $35,000 WEF Challenge Cup on Quointreau du Prince on Feb. 3.

Four of the 47 competitors in the WEF Challenge went clean over the Steve Stephens designed course, but Darragh Kenny on Caliber withdrew from the second round, thus finishing fourth.

Chapot and Quointreau un Prince were first to go in the tiebreaker and jumped the only double clear round in a time of 38.67 seconds to win.

Kent Farrington on Gazelle was faster, but had one rail down to place second in 38.49 seconds.

Hardin Towell on Emilie de Diamant AS also had a rail to finish third in 39.07.

"I am just thrilled with him," Chapot said of the 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Diamant de Semilly x Rosire) that she owns in partnership with McLain Ward. "Going first is always a little difficult, but I felt like I had a good plan with him. He just really rose to the occasion and jumped super today."

First to go in the jump-off with two very fast riders to follow, Chapot knew that she needed to set a big challenge.

She used her experience from last week's grand prix, in which she finished fourth riding ISHD Dual Star, as motivation.

"I felt like Saturday night my horse was jumping great, and maybe I just did not do the best round I could," Chapot said. "I played it a bit too safe, so today I was really ready to go in there and try to win the class. I did not want to leave the door open again."

Chapot has ridden Quointreau un Prince since the gelding was five years old.

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Editor: Sara Cavanagh

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