It’s All About Girl Power as Team USA Takes Top Honors in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the United States of America in Wellington Followed by the All-Girl British Squad

Team USA wins the $230,000 CSIO5* Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ USA at the Palm Beach Masters Series®. From left to right: Lou Jacobs, Palm Beach Masters Series® Co-Founder, Joan Jacobs, representing the Palm Beach Masters Series®; Margie Engle, Laura Kraut, Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, Beezie Madden, and Jessica Springsteen; Mr. Mike Mikula, Longines Representative; and Mr. Mark Samuel, FEI First Vice-President. Team USA wins the $230,000 CSIO5* Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ USA at the Palm Beach Masters Series®. From left to right: Lou Jacobs, Palm Beach Masters Series® Co-Founder, Joan Jacobs, representing the Palm Beach Masters Series®; Margie Engle, Laura Kraut, Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, Beezie Madden, and Jessica Springsteen; Mr. Mike Mikula, Longines Representative; and Mr. Mark Samuel, FEI First Vice-President. Photo by Kathy Russell Photography

At the close of Round 1 in the $230,000 CSIO5* Longings FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ USA at the Palm Beach Masters Series, Team USA was one of three nations sitting on a score of 8 along with Mexico and Israel.  Once the sun went down on the beautiful Deeridge Farms, it took a dramatic jump-off between America’s Beezie Madden and Great Britain’s Alexandra Thornton to determine which team would ‘jump’ to the highest step of the podium.
— By Simona Diale, International Horse Press


“The Nations Cup is the pinnacle of the sport, it’s what it’s is all about,” said U.S. Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland. “These horses aren’t in mid-season form, yet the field of play was deep. It was really good jumping and our team was great.” The American team — which included Madden on Darry Lou, Laura Kraut on Confu, Margie Engle on Royce, and Jessica Springsteen on RMF Zecilie — showed off what good jumping was all about, in particular considering ‘the true test of the track’ as Course Designer Alan Wade (IRL) said. “The true test [of the track] was meant to be its height, not its technicality. I had a discussion with my assistants to keep the [1.60m] height and distances that maybe would not be as tricky as what you might have in the Grand Prix,” he added. “We made two fences higher moving into Round 2 and this class, to me, was probably the most important one I’ve designed this year. It was basically up to the athletes, and they provided a great afternoon of sport; it was an honor to design this course.”
“I actually thought that all of us that had faults in the first round had a few unlucky rails,” said Springsteen who knocked a pole in Round 1 and was first to go in Round 2 for her team. “For the second round, I didn’t want to change my plan too much; I just felt like I needed a little more space back to that vertical. Other than that, [Zecilie] jumped amazing in both rounds, so I was really thrilled with her.” An unexpected moment occurred midway through Round 1, when veteran team member Engle’s horse, Royce, completed his round on 4 faults, and then spooked at the end of the ring, unseating his rider. “I didn’t really have my reins. He darted right, and I kind of exited left,” explained with a laugh Engle, who was unhurt in the fall. “Royce hadn’t shown for the whole week, so he was nice and fresh. With the heat, Maybe left him a bit too fresh, but after he ran around the ring for a while, he was much quieter in the second round! After Jessica’s [Springsteen] fantastic round, I knew that the fight was still on so I just made sure that I got to the oxer where I had the rail in Round 1 a bit straighter.” Engle became the second of two clears midway through Round 2 after Springsteen had set the tone for her team. Next, it was up to Kraut, the only rider on the squad to earn a clear in the first round. Aboard her longtime partner, the 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding Confu, Kraut performed to yet another zero score, sparing her teammate, anchor rider Madden, from having to jump the second round. “You hate to be overconfident, but I was feeling good. My horse was jumping well down here and I had an unlucky fence in the [CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix] the other day, soI said to myself, ‘Alright, that’s an omen that you need to do two clear rounds on Sunday,’” said Kraut. “That being said, it was also hard not to be overconfident when I had a team like this: great riders and horses. It’s probably the most confident that I’ve felt in a long time.”

Beezie Madden (USA) and Darry Lou clinched the victory in a jump-off with Great Britain. Photo by Kathy Russell Photography

 

As Round 2 drew to a close, Ireland had slipped down the standings, while two clears by Mexico’s riders would ultimately secure the squad third place on 17. Only Great Britain, at a disadvantage with only three athletes competing and no drop score (Thornton, Emily Moffitt, and Amanda Derbyshire), could still challenge the U.S. But after anchor rider Amanda Derbyshire and Cornwall BH knocked an early pole, the pressure was on during a two-rider jump-off that would ultimately determine the class winner. Four-time Olympic medalist Madden was selected to lead off for Team USA. “For sure, I didn’t want to leave the door too open for [Thornton] to be faster than me,” Madden said. “I have to say, right from the first jumps in the schooling area, he rose to the occasion but, in hindsight, he was probably a little too fresh. After the first jump, I had to bring him back to attention.” Madden and the 12-year-old KWPN stallion stopped the clock at 33.11 seconds. Next up for Great Britain, 27-year-old Thornton made the most of her experienced 14-year-old Cornetto K: the pair put in a perfect run crossing the line with a final time of 36.34 seconds. It was a great day for Great Britain who finished runners-up behind a great U.S. Team proving Chef d’Équipe Di Lampard’s choice was right in selecting three U.S.-based riders: Thornton, 21-year-old Emily Moffit, and 31-year-old Amanda Derbyshire. Closing in third place was Team Mexico in front of Team Canada where 17-year-old Sam Walker riding Telstar du Vingt Ponts made his debut collecting only four faults. Tying for fifth place were Israel and Ireland followed Australia and Brazil, both ranked seventh.

 

Jessica Springsteen (USA) and RMF Zecile. Photo by Kathy Russell Photography.

 

 

Left: Margie Engle (USA) and Royce / Right: Laura Kraut (USA) and Confu. Photos by Kathy Russell Photography.

 

“The energy was so enthusiastic,” said Palm Beach Masters Series® Co-Founder Katie Jacobs Robinson, who thanked the riders for the great sport and Wade for his course design. “The footing was great, everyone was cheering and happy, and it really was a fabulous event which closed with a perfect day!”
Of the eight teams that showed, only USA, Mexico and Canada ran for qualifying points in the North and Central America and Caribbean League series from which two of the three countries will qualify for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2020 final in Barcelona, Spain, in October.
The Palm Beach Masters Series® hosts the final event of its 2020 season, the Palm Beach Open CSI5*/CSI2*, March 10-15 at Deeridge Farms. For further info: palmbeachmasters.com

Final results here