A strong U.S. team of Lauren Hough, Lillie Keenan, Beezie Madden and Laura Kraut posted an impressive win in the Nations Cup in Dublin, Ireland on Aug. 11, posting the only zero score in the hard-fought competition..
It came down to the final rider, Kraut on Confu, for the win, and Kraut, who had been so sick during the previous week that she'd been unable to ride a couple of days before, came through with a clean round.
"We said at the beginning of the year this was one of the shows we are bringing our “A” team to." said 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 Aga Kahn Trophy is probably the most coveted trophy in the sport," said Ridland. "When we have the opportunity to compete at Dublin, we make it a big priority. This was an incredibly exciting competition as it went down to the last round, but we had riders who ride under pressure very well. All four riders were unbelievable today; they were aware of the pressure, but as great riders do, they rose to the occasion."
At the halfway point, the U.S. and Host Ireland were tied on zero faults, but the Irish had 17 faults in round two to drop to fifth behind Spain. while the Netherlands and France threw down a challenge, scoring seven and five faults respectively.
Hough on Ohlala and Madden on a relatively new mount, Darry Lou, both went clean in the second round, but Keenan on Super Sox had five faults, so, while Krout did have a rail in hand, she had to have a top round to win, which she did, posting a double clear for the win.
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've been in situations like that before, tied for the lead after the first found," said Ridland. "But more times we've come from behind for the win. This result was what we'd been planning for and hoping for."
The U.S. began the summer with a win at Sopot in Poland.
"THAT WAS a 5* show that we hadn't been to before," said Ridland. "We sent Laura Kraut, Lauren Hough, Chloe Reid, Paris Sellon and Reed Kessler. We won the Nations Cup."
"Then we sent a relatively young team to Falsterbo in Sweden," said Ridland.
The team of Reid, Ali Wolff, Adrienne Sternlicht and Alison Robitaille finished fifth with 12 faults.
"That was the only time this summer that we weren't first or second," said Ridland.
The next Nations Cup was in Aachen, where the U.S. tied for second with Switzerland behind the gold medal winning German team.
The team included Kent Farrington with Gazelle (8/0), Elizabeth Madden with Coach (8/8), Laura Kraut with Zeremonie (0/0) and McLain Ward with HH Azur (0/0) for the team to finish with an eight fault total before a packed crowd of 40,000 spectators.
“What we saw here today was sport at the very highest level," said Ridland. "It doesn’t get any better than that. And it is an honor for us to be able to compete here!”
Farrington, number one in the world rankings of the show jumpers, also won the Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Where others hesitate, Kent Farrington puts his foot down , and with the 16-year-old gelding, Uceko, he has a horse that suits such tactics perfectly:
“He has a big canter stride and can take any obstacle at full speed,” said Farrington. “That is why grass arenas like this one suit him well.”
"We've been very fortunate this year," said Ridland. "We've had a lot of different riders on our teams, and both the young and the older riders have stepped up to the plate."
"It's been quite a run," said Ridland. "Dublin was amazing. We also won here three years ago, and as he did then, the President of Ireland also presented the trophy this year. It's quite an honor for the President of the country to present the trophy. It shows how important show jumping is in Ireland."
The next Nations Cup is at Spruce Meadows, and then it's on to the finals in Barcelona.
The team for Spruce Meadows is Madden, Hough, Keenan and Charlie Jacobs.
"We'll pick the team for Barcelona in a week or so," said Ridland. "We're definitely sending a strong team to Barcelona."