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Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final, Barcelona


McLain Ward and Rothchild on their way to an American team victory in the Consolation Class at the Furusiyya FEI Nations CupÂȘ Jumping Final in Barcelona.

Rodrigo Pessoa and Citizenguard Cadjanine Z jumped clear in first competition Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final at the Real Club de Polo in Barcelona (ESP) to put Brazil in the number one spot.

Eduardo Menezes of Brazil executes a flying dismount from his horse Calavda after the bridle broke midway round the course. Both horse and rider were unhurt in the incident Image: team_usa:

U.S. Wins Consolation Competition
By Louise Parkes

The inaugural Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final took place at Real Club de Polo in Barcelona, Spain September 26-29, 2013.

US riders may have been disappointed when failing to make the cut into the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final decider, missing the cut by a few short seconds, but they were all smiles after clinching the top honors in the Consolation Competition. They battled it out with the Swiss in a nerve-wracking jump-off that went down to the wire and kept spectators on the edges of their seats.

The race against the clock was a real thriller, with the advantage changing at every turn.  “Yesterday was very frustrating and I was a little melancholy afterwards, but that’s what sport is all about, the beauty of sport, it goes back and forth, and it’s about coming back and giving a better performance,” said anchorman McLain Ward who clinched it for the US side.

The first round track provided plenty of problems, and only eight clear rounds were recorded. The tussle between the Swiss and Americans unfolded as the last-line riders took their turn in the first round.  A clear from Pius Schwizer put huge pressure on American anchor Beezie Madden.  But when the relatively inexperienced eight-year-old Toulago kicked out a pole in the middle of the penultimate triple combination, then the best the Swiss could do was a first-round four-fault tally, leaving the door open for the USA.  

Santiago Varela’s track included a turn away from the entrance to the arena on the approach to the vertical at fence six, and many riders angled this to make up time.  As Madden turned the corner with Simon, they lost their symmetry and the 14-year-old gelding jammed on the brakes in front of the fence.  He cleared it at the second time of asking, but with two additional time faults this would have to be the drop score, so the four collected by Katie Dinan and Nougat du Vallet were added to the clears recorded by McLain Ward (Rothchild) and Lucy Davis (Barron).  A jump-off was assured, but nobody could have predicted what would happen next.

Under the new Furusiyya Final rules, just three riders from each team can come back into the jump-off, and Beat Mandli and his handsome young stallion, Croesus, led the way for Switzerland, lowering the first of the two remaining elements of the former triple combination to return a four-fault score in 39.88 seconds.  The new rules also allow for the order of riders to be changed, so Madden was back in the ring again as American pathfinder this time, and she gave the US supporters yet another fright when Simon, turning towards exactly the same area of the arena where he had ground to a halt in the first round, suddenly hesitated, but then continued on to clear the finish line in 40.72 seconds.  

Switzerland’s Paul Estermann and Castlefield Eclipse hit the vertical second fence to add four more to the Swiss tally before the USA’s Lucy Davis raised American temperatures even higher at the same fence.  Starting out with plenty of pace, the lines of communication between horse and rider suddenly failed on the turn to the second fence.  As Davis said afterwards, “We were both a bit tense because we wanted to go well.”  Her check in front of the fence seemed to confuse the nine-year-old Barron, “and he started popping up and down!” she admitted.  The gelding suddenly found his gears again and continued on, but left the plank at the vertical on the floor along with the original first fence, now three obstacles from home.  And their lost time added two seconds to see them register a 10-fault total, thus handing the advantage back to the Swiss.

But when Steve Guerdat’s Nasa had two fences down, it was left to McLain Ward to snatch it back, and he had a fence in hand coming into the ring.  The American opted for a careful clear, picking up two time faults to clinch it.  “Obviously I knew the situation and was aware the time-allowed was tight.  When I jumped the Longines oxer I knew if I had one down we would still win. But I have a horse that doesn’t want to knock fences down!” he said afterwards. 

There were mixed emotions in the US camp after the prize-giving ceremony. Their victory was bitter-sweet.  Chef d’Equipe, Robert Ridland said, “Obviously we are very excited to win but, to be honest, we wanted to be on that podium tomorrow [after the final].  Yesterday was an amazing competition with so many top teams finishing so close together.  We got the short end of the stick, but even so it was a great competition!”  

28 September 2013 Competition 2: Furusiyya FEI Nations Cupª Jumping Final in Barcelona - The winning USA team on the podium after the Consolation Class at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cupª Jumping Final (from left) chef d'equipe Robert Ridland, Reed Kessler, Lucy Davis, Katie Dinan, McLain Ward and Beezie Madden with the presentation party of Abdul Rahman Al Hazza'a, President of the Saudi Broadcasting Corporation, Ingmar De Vos, FEI Secretary General,
HH Prince Mansour Bin Khalid Alfarhan Al-Saud, Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Spain, (and right) Luis Comas, President of the Real Club de Polo Foundation, and Javier Revuelta, President of the Royal Spanish Equestrian Federation.

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