The American ladies came out swinging in the The Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final on Thursday, qualifying for the Series Finale on Saturday as one of the top teams on a zero score. The Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team of Audrey Coulter, Lucy Davis, Lauren Hough, and Laura Kraut, led by Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, jumped nearly flawlessly alongside Germany and Belgium to put through three out of four clear rounds over Santiago Varela’s five-star course. Lauren Hough and Ohlala (Libby Law Photography/USEF Communications)
“I thought it was a good course,” said Hough. “It is a difficult event to build for with so many countries and having riders at all levels. [Santiago Varela] asked enough good questions to present a challenge without over-facing some of the less experienced countries. I am very comfortable going first with Ohlala. I stuck to my plan and put in some adds where maybe some others wouldn’t and she jumped fantastic.”
Audrey Coulter was the next American to go, and she and Holsteiner stallion Capital Colnardo had a strong round, bringing home just four faults after a spot of trouble in the center effort of the triple combination. They were followed by Lucy Davis and Barron, who showed why they were such a critical element of the Olympic silver medalist team after a perfect round.
Laura Kraut and Zeremonie delivered the final clutch round that the team needed to ensure their top notch spot going into the finals and letting the competition know where the ladies hope to land on Saturday night.
Belgium and Germany also qualified for the final round with a zero score, putting the pressure on for a big finale on Saturday night. Team Germany got superb clear rounds from Daniel Deusser, Marcus Ehning, and Christian Ahlmann, and retiring legend Ludger Beerbaum jumped a casual 4-fault round, since the team knew it would not need his score.
Belgium’s all-star team of Nicola Philipparts, Niels Bruynseels, Jerome Guery and Gregory Wathelet also qualified three clear scores and dropped a 4-fault round from Niels.
Switzerland, Great Britain, and Italy all made it through on eight collective team faults, and a nail-biting three team tie duked it out for the final two spots in the finals: The Netherlands, Ireland, and Brazil. It came down to the fastest collective rounds to break the eight-fault teams, and Brazil was unfortunately the odd man out.
The French team, coming off their gold medal team performance in Rio, had an uncharacteristically difficult day. Phillippe Rozier and Rahotep de Toscana had 21 faults to set an ominous tone, and Kevin Staut, Roger Yves-Bost, and Penelope Leprovost each had a rail, to knock them out of contention.
The remaining teams who did not make the cut and will compete in the consolation Challenge Cup in addition to Brazil and France are: Qatar, Spain, Austria, Egypt, Colombia, Mexico, Sweden and Australia.
The final round of competition will feature the top eight teams from Thursday’s opening round, all starting off on zero faults. Competition will take place Saturday at 3 p.m. ET and can be watched live onFEITV.org. Teams ranked ninth through 18th will move forward to the Longines Challenge Cup on Friday at 3 p.m. ET. That competition can be viewed live on the FEI YouTube channel.