A week of unprecedented success for the U.S. at CSIO Wellington came to a close on Sunday with Todd Minikus claiming victory in the CSIO4* Grand Prix presented by Lugano Diamonds and the U.S. Teams completing a clean sweep of FEI Nations Cups presented by Hollow Creek Farm.
Minikus (Wellington, Fla.) and his partner from the United States' winning effort in the FEI Nations Cup presented by Kingsland Equestrian, Babalou 41, charged to the head of the field in Sunday's feature Grand Prix on the strength of impressive jumping. The pair was one of 10 combinations to jump faultlessly over Anthony D'Ambrosio's 14-obstacle course and qualify to return for the jump-off. In their return trip, Minikus and Two Swans Farm's 10-year-old Oldenburg mare again produced a clear round in a time of 35.77, which no other combination could match.
"That was a nice week," said Minikus. "Babalou is starting to step up to the big leagues. I think she's got a big future ahead of her and I couldn't be happier with her."
Teammates from the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team, McLain Ward (Brewster, N.Y.) and Double H Farm's 13-year-old Zangersheide gelding HH Carlos Z and Margie Engle and Elm Rock Partners, LLC's 11-year-old Oldenburg stallion also qualified for the jump-off, finishing in eighth and ninth places, respectively.
FEI Nations Cups presented by Hollow Creek Farm
Postponed because of rain on Saturday, the conclusion of the FEI Nations Cups presented by Hollow Creek Farm began with the completion of the first round of the Children's competition followed by the second round for Children's competitors. The second rounds of the Junior and Young Riders Nations Cup were then completed, with the second round of the Nations Cup doubling as the first round of Grand Prix competition. All Nations Cup second round clears returned to jump-off for the Hollow Creek Grand Prix titles. Drawing inspiration from the United States win in Friday's FEI Nations Cup presented by Kingsland Equestrian, the Child Rider, Junior Rider, and Young Rider Teams all surged to victory, ensuring that the home nation won all four Nations Cup held at CSIO Wellington.
Led by Chef d'Equipe Diann Langer, the three U.S. teams of promising young equestrians held the lead after their respective first rounds over Anthony D'Ambrosio's course and produced strong second rounds efforts to secure victory.
"It was a great day and a great week all the way through," said Langer. "I thought the teams were the best of the best. I came in feeling very confident, but you never know what can happen and I'm very pleased with them all and so excited."
FEI Children's Nations Cup presented by Hollow Creek Farm
The U.S. Child Riders set the tone for the day as they stormed to victory, finishing on a two-round total of zero, ahead of Brazil in second place on four faults and Argentina in third place on a score of five faults.
Yasmin Rizvi (Greenwich, Conn.) jumped in the lead-off position for the U.S. and produced a double clear with immaculate efforts in both rounds of the Nations Cup. In the jump-off, she again was clear with Peacock Ridge, LLC's 15-year-old KWPN gelding Delilah, finishing in a time of 30.59 to earn second-place honors in the Hollow Creek Farm Children's Grand Prix.
"It's really exciting to win, it was my first time on a team and it was really fun," said Rizvi. "I felt a little more pressure because I didn't want to let the team down but it was so much more fun to win as a team."
Catalina Peralta (Geneva, Fla.) added her name to the list of eight double clears with faultless rounds on Frances Land's Merlin. In the Grand Prix jump-off, the 15-year-old British Warmblood lowered a single rail in a time of 31.70 to finish in 12th place.
Charles Jacobs (Wellington, Fla.) and CMJ Sporthorse, LLC's 15-year-old Sachsen-Anhaltiner gelding Campesino IV jumped in the third spot for the United States, incurring four-fault trips in both Nations Cup rounds and finishing in 17th in the Grand Prix.
Anchoring the U.S. effort in the Children's Nations Cup was Sheer Levitin (Delray Beach, Fla.) and her own 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding Nabuco. With clears in both rounds, the combination secured victory for the Americans as well as finishing in 11th place in Grand Prix after having the final rail in the jump-off where they finished in a time of 27.91.
Brazil's Thales Marino and Balla 12 were the winners of the Hollow Creek Farm Children's Grand Prix, going clear in the jump-off in a time of 30.40.
FEI Junior Riders Nations Cup presented by Hollow Creek Farm
The Junior Rider Team of Kelli Cruciotti, Lauren Fisher, Madison Goetzmann, and Lucas Porter followed the Children's victory with a win of their own, finishing on an overall score of one fault. The U.S. headed into the second round on Sunday on a score of one and added nothing more on the strength of three clear rounds.
Cruciotti (Elizabeth, Colo.) jumped first for the United States with Serenity Equestrian Ventures' 14-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare Chamonix H and repeated her clear round from Saturday to be one of only two double clears. In the jump-off the pair had a single rail and finished in a time of 32.05 to finish the Hollow Creek Farm Young Rider Grand Prix in sixth place.
"She's amazing and has a huge heart, and lots of scope and a big stride that I can really use to my advantage," said Cruciotti of Chamonix H. "She's a pleasure to ride."
After incurring one time fault in the first round, Fischer (Bedford, N.Y.) had an improved effort with her own Offenbach Du Granit producing a faultless effort in round two. In the jump-off the 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding had two rails down for eight faults in a time of 30.51 to finish in ninth.
Goetzmann (Skaneateles, N.Y.) and John Madden Sales Inc.'s 12-year-old KWPN gelding Wrigley were clear in Saturday's first round but jumped a four-fault round on Sunday. The pair completed the Grand Prix in 14th place.
Porter and Phineas, who had a single rail in the first round, jumped clear on Sunday to ensure the U.S. would finish on a score of one. In the jump-off, Sleepy P Ranch LLC's 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding lowered two rails for eight faults in a time of 33.60 to finish the Grand Prix in 10th place.
Ireland collected second-place honors in Nations Cup competition on 13 faults, as Brazil finished third on a score of 16 faults. Mexico's Juan Pablo Gaspar and Charlotte were victorious in the Grand Prix, finishing their clear jump-off round in 31.62 seconds.
FEI Young Riders Nations Cup presented by Hollow Creek Farm
The U.S. Young Riders completed the American sweep of Nations Cups at CSIO Wellington as the team of Shawn Casady, Spencer Smith, Chloe Reid, and Michael Hughes finished on a two round total of four faults to finish ahead of Brazil on 24 faults and Ireland in third on 28 faults.
Leading off for the U.S. was Casady (Harriman, Tenn.) and Cavallo Farms, LLC's 15-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding Twister. The combination duplicated their four-fault effort from round one on Sunday to finish the Grand Prix in sixth place.
Smith (Wellington, Fla.) and Wyndmont's IV Ever produced two immaculate rounds in the Nations Cup to be one of only two double clear combinations. In the jump-off the pair jumped another fault-free effort in an unmatchable time of 32.84 to win the Grand Prix.
"I thought the course was a real test of consistency," said Smith of D'Ambrosio's course. The 2014 Pessoa/US Hunter Seat Medal Finals presented by Randolph College champion has only been riding IV Ever a short time but has quickly built a rapport with the 14-year-old KWPN gelding. "I started riding him at the beginning of the circuit and he's been really great for me."
Reid (Washington, D.C.) also looked to add her name to the double-clear list with Chloe D Reid LLC's 10-year-old Athena, but it was not meant to be as they collected four faults on Sunday. The 2014 Randolph College/USEF Junior Jumper Champions finished the Grand Prix in seventh place.
Anchoring the U.S. effort was Hughes (Allendale, N.J.) and Luxina. Not needed to jump in round one, the pair completed the U.S. effort in round two with a clear round. In the jump off, Christina Fried's 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare lowered a single rail in a time of 33.67 to finish in fourth.
The USEF would like to thank the owners and families of the Child Rider, Junior Rider, and Young Rider competitors for their generous support of the future stars of the sport.