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All-Woman USA Team Gallops Away with BMO Nations' Cup Victory

Source :  Equestrian Connection

Ian Millar & Nicos
The US Team of Margie Goldstein-Engle, Schuyler Riley, Laura Kraut and Alison Firestone proved that the Americans have great depth in their showjumping program. With the World Equestrian Games only days away, many of the countries' top horse/rider combinations were unable to compete in Spruce Meadows.

But that didn't slow down the American team. With a fault-free round at the end from anchor rider Margie Goldstein-Engle and the formidable Hidden Creek's Perin, the all-woman American team jumped their way to their first Nations' Cup win at Spruce Meadows since 1994, and shared in $75,000 in prize money. The last time an all-girl Nations' Cup team won top honours was way back in 1987.

"It's thrilling for us to win, "said Goldstein-Engle."We've been looking forward to this for a long time, and for me it's exhilirating. With all the changes we've been making, we needed a boost."

Eric Lamaze & Rosina
With a relatively young team (both horses and riders), Team Canada's first round looked very promising. The only true 'veterans' on the team, Eriz Lamaze and Rosina, posted a clean round with only 2 time penalties. Young team members Frankie Chesler with Ravenna Z, and Ainsley Vince with Catch 22 also posted very good rounds with only 8 faults a piece. Ian Millar was the anchor rider, also posting 8 faults with the young horse Nicos. This placed Team Canada 3rd after leaders USA and Switzerland in Round 1.

But Round 2 told quite a different story. With the heavens opening up, the weather became quite nasty and seemed to have an effect on a number of horses. American rider Laura Kraut, after having only 4 faults in the first round, racked up a high score of 20. The ride ended up being the drop score, and Kraut attributed some of her problems with Antem's nervousness from the thunder which boomed overhead during her warmup and ride.

"When I got on in the warm-up, he was just buzzing around the groom", explained Kraut. "The first round he was so relaxed, and for the second he was really on edge."

Round 2 also saw the absence of Germany's anchor rider Ludger Beerbaum & Champion du Lys. After a disappointing 20 faults in Round 1, it was discovered that Champion du Lys bruised a front heel after the water jump and the decision was made to retire the pair from Round 2. This meant that they would have no drop score in this round. But their team efforts were greatly strengthened by Beerbaum's wife, former American rider Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and the very striking Shutterfly who posted the only double clear rounds of the day. This was instrumental in Germany achieving a 2nd place final position.

Canada also suffered from poor luck in Round 2. Lamaze & Rosina were unable to duplicate their impressive first round efforts and produced 11 faults including a refusal when a moving cameraman caused Rosina to lose her attention. Chesler and Ravenna Z had even more bad luck with Ravenna Z pulled a shoe in the warm up. Both a veterinarian and a blacksmith were needed to repair damage to the hoof and put the shoe back on so that the pair could be returned to competition. And although the horse was able to go back into the ring, the interruption and 2 warmups proved to be too much for the pair to handle and they doubled their score from the first round giving them 16 faults.

Vince & Catch 22 also doubled their score from the first round, and Millar & Nicos added another 12 faults to bring Team Canada's two round total to 57 faults, giving them 5th place overall.

But despite the disappointing finish, the Nations' Cup proved to be an exciting competition with an estimated crowd of over 53,000. And the most exciting ride of the day had to undoubtedly be The Netherlands' Marc Houtzager with HBC Jacomar in the first round. After only completing the first jump, the impressive dark bay threw what could only be described as a 'fit' at the second jump, refusing to go forward and spending his time rearing and bucking. 2 refusals of the fence resulted in elimination. After what seemed to be quite a length of time, Houtzager was able to regain control and jump a courtesy fence on his way out of the international arena. However in Round 2, any disagreements seemed to be long forgotten and the pair put in a decent 8 fault round.

The most difficult part of the competition for the American team probably came to chef d'equipe Frank Chapot who accepted the honours during a hailstorm. And what did he think of his all-female winning team?

"They've been doing it every week for years and years and years," said Frank Chapot. "In our country, there's probably more woman professionals at the top of the heap than men. It's not unusual. We also had an all-girl team in Sydney (2000 Olympics). I think they're wonderful. I much prefer it that way!"

BMO Nations'Cup Final Standings
1. USA - 20 faults
Allison Firestone & Casanova
Schuyler Rile & Ilian
Laura Kraut & Anthem
Margie Goldstein-Engle & Hidden Creek's Perin

2. Germany - 32 faults
Toni Hassmann & Goldika 559
Mylene Diederichsmeier & Countess G
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum & Shutterfly
Ludger Beerbaum & Champion du Lys

3. Switzerland - 35 faults
Lesley McNaught & Lexicon
Markus Fuchs & Granie
Claudia Gisler & Lugano VIII
Beat Mandli & L.B. Activ

4. Belgium - 39 faults
Gilbert Deroock & Neron de la Tourelle
Maurice van Roosebroeck & Le Coupe C
Marc van Dijck & Cumano BD
Stanny van Paesschen & O De Pomme

5. Canada - 57 faults
Frankie Chesler & Ravenna Z
Ainsley Vince & Catch 22
Eriz Lamaze & Rosina
Ian Millar & Nicos

6. The Netherlands - 68 faults
Marc Houtzager & HBC Jacomar
Albert Zoer & Lowina
Peter Geerink & Norit Larino
Wout Jan van der Schans & Broere Atlantic

Full results can be found at:

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