The four members of the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team, all of them also on the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Short List for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, impressed the capacity crowd attending the Mercedes-Benz FEI Nations Cup at CSIO5* Aachen on Thursday with a hard fought second-place finish. Though they had a few missteps in the beginning, the team of Lucy Davis, Reed Kessler, Lauren Hough, and Kent Farrington leapt up the leaderboard after a stellar second round.
Lucy Davis (Los Angeles, Calif.) got the U.S. Team, jumping seventh in the order of go, off to the best possible start with a clear round on her way to a perfect day with Old Oak Farm's Barron. Reed Kessler (Lexington, Ky.) followed with four faults aboard Kessler Show Stables' 2002 Belgian Warmblood mare Cylana.
Lauren Hough (Wellington, Fla.) nearly had a second clear for the U.S. squad, but after a mostly solid trip over the obstacles, The Ohlala Group's 2004 Swedish Warmblood mare Ohlala struggled with the final two fences and finished on eight faults. Kent Farrington (Wellington, Fla.) anchored the team with Amalaya Investment's 2003 KWPN gelding Willow and had four faults.
The round one team total of eight faults had the U.S. sitting in fourth place, just off of podium pace.
With the pressure on, some of world's best horses and riders ahead of them, and tens of thousands of spectators filling the stands, Chef d'Equipe Robert Ridland's squad rose to the occasion.
Davis led the way again with a second impressive clear aboard Barron. Davis and the 2004 Belgian Warmblood gelding were arguably the best combination jumping Thursday night in Aachen, and one of only three to jump double clear. Following Davis' lead, Kessler and Cylana earned a clear round of their own and put the pressure on the leading teams.
Kessler would take her excitement to twitter immediately after competition and tweet "Cylana was amazing tonight jumping out of her skin, 4 and clear in the nations cup in Aachen! Bravo Lucy for an amazing double clear!"
Lauren Hough had a celebratory tweet of her own to share after Ohlala bounced back from late round one bobbles and produced a very solid clear.
"So happy with Ohlala in the second round of#MercedesBenz Nations Cup of @KARLI_CHIO #TeamUSA finish 2nd," she posted after she and Ohlala ensured that the U.S. team would finish on their round one total.
With the team score of eight already secured, Farrington and Willow had two fences down for eight faults.
"What was so amazing about this Team was how they came together after the first round and believed they could pull it off and they almost did with three clears," remarked Ridland. "We had a great day yesterday with Kent's big win and another fabulous day today....all the more special to be able to do it in Aachen in front of two consecutive sellout audiences of over 50,000."
When the final horse had jumped, the U.S. team finished only two points away from the win. No team was able to match them in round two, but the Belgian team was equally flawless in round one, and tacked on only six points to earn the victory. The team from The Netherlands finished third with 10 faults.
For complete scores go to www.chioaachen.de.
Follow the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team here.