The U.S. Show Jumping Team jumped to a bronze medal finish in the FEI Jumping Nations CupTM USA CSIO5* Ocala on Sunday, February 18 at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Fla.
With Canada taking home the gold, and Brazil finishing on silver, the team of Lauren Hough (Wellington, Fla.), Laura Kraut (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.), Beezie Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.), and McLain Ward (Brewster, N.Y.) were presented with a bronze and also put the U.S. team into a strong second place position in the North and Central America and Caribbean League standings to start the season.
Hough was mounted on Ohlala, owned by the Ohlala Group; Kraut was aboard St. Bride Farm’s Confu; Ward rode Double H Farm’s HH Callas, and Madden was on Darry Lou, owned by Abigail Wexner.
“We always set the bar high; that’s the standard that we always expect,” said Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland. “We felt that we were really prepared to win gold, but that’s the nature of five-star events. It’s the first time that we have had a five-star Nations Cup in the United States, and that was a five-star course, no question about it. The good news is, we had a podium finish, which is obviously what we always aim for. And we finished second in our league for today.”
At the end of the first round, the U.S. team sat on 16 faults over the difficult track set by course designer Marina Azevedo of Brazil. Canada and Germany held the lead, tied on four faults each, while Brazil sat in second with eight faults.
As the pathfinder for the U.S. team, Hough and the 14-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare Ohlala returned to produce a fault-free effort in the second round. U.S. Olympic Team gold-medalist Kraut was next in the ring for the USA aboard Confu, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding, and the pair had just one unlucky rail at the final fence to finish on four faults.
“I thought he jumped brilliantly,” said Kraut of Confu. “It was a very big course today; I think that Marina built a really strong track. You wouldn’t jump one any bigger anywhere in the world. I think my horse jumped the second round incredibly. I just didn’t have the luck of the show jumping gods at the last jump because he really made a beautiful round of it!”
The reigning FEI World Cup™ Final champion, Ward, was the third member to return for the U.S., competing aboard HH Callas, an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare. A total of 12 faults for the pair would make their score the dropped score for the round. Coming in as the team anchors, Madden and Darry Lou, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Abigail Wexner, saw just one rail fall to finish on four faults, giving the U.S. a two round 24 fault total score.
Team Ireland also finished on a 24 fault total score to tie with the U.S. team for the bronze medal. Brazil took second with 16 faults, and Canada won the gold with only an eight fault total.
The top two teams in the final North and Central America and Caribbean League standings will qualify for the Longines FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final in Barcelona, Spain in October.