|West Sussex, England – The Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team put forth a great effort in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ of Great Britain presented by Longines at CSIO5* Hickstead. On Friday, Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland guided the team of Katie Dinan, Lauren Hough, Lillie Keenan, and Paris Sellon against a top international field of eight nations. After two rounds over a solid track designed by Kelvin Bywater (GBR), the U.S. tied with Switzerland for fourth place on 12 faults after an excellent comeback in round two.
“To comeback from last place after round one is spectacular. It is so reminiscent of Pan American Games, where we had some minor mistakes in round one but came back clear in round two; it was fantastic,” Ridland said enthusiastically. “It is the unique aspect of a Nations Cup’s second round. It often doesn’t ride the same because you aren’t riding the same horse; the horse either knows the course and tends to speed down the distances or he is tired. It’s a new ballgame. Today, we kept plugging away and fighting for every jump and it paid off. It was exciting because it is a glimpse of our future with Lillie and Paris competing in their first Nations Cup at the five-star level.”
Keenan (New York, N.Y.) and Chasonette Farm LLC’s Super Sox were first up for the U.S., having a four-fault round when the 2006 Hanoverian gelding had an unlucky foot in the open water at fence nine. Next, Sellon (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Willow Grace Farms’ Adare, a 2005 Dutch Warmblood mare, tallied four faults after knocking a rail at fence five following a tricky turn to the vertical. Dinan (Wellington, Fla.) and Grant Road Partners LLC’s Dougie Douglas, a 2005 Irish Sport gelding, also had a four-fault round with a rail down at the vertical at 4A. Riding as the team anchor, Hough (Wellington, Fla.) had a tough eight-fault round with Willow Grace Farms’ Cornet 39, who was bulking in the atmosphere of the International Arena. The 2004 Oldenburg gelding had an uncharacteristic stop at fence 5, but Hough rode determinedly to finish strongly, even though they collected four time faults. The U.S. team sat in eighth place on 12 faults at the end of round one.
The pressure was on in round two, and the U.S. combinations fought hard. As the pathfinders, Keenan and Super Sox easily delivered a clear round. Sellon and Adare had another unlucky rail at fence five for four faults, but Dinan and Dougie Douglas had a clear round to keep the U.S. hopes alive. Last to go for the team, Hough and Cornet 39 closed out the Nations Cup with another solid clear round, allowing the team to finish on its round-one total of 12 faults.
“It’s my first time jumping in a five-star Nations Cup and my second time at the senior level. I was lucky to take part in the developing tour a few years ago and do my first senior Nations Cup in Slovakia; it was a great learning experience,” Keenan said. “I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity; I believe you learn by doing. Today my horse was fantastic. We just had a toe on the tape at the open water in the first round and came back to go clear in the second round. I think I could have had a double-clear round if I had gotten him a bit closer to the water, but I am thrilled with how today went.”
Germany won the Nations Cup on four faults while Belgium and Ireland tied for second with eight faults.
On Sunday, the U.S. contingent will direct their focus to the prestigious Longines King George V Gold Cup.
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