September 18, 2002 - The United States
finished on top in the first qualifier for the first-ever Reining World
Championship on Wednesday, at the 2002 World Equestrian Games in Jerez
de la Frontera, Spain.
The U.S. squad combined for a score of 661.50 points. Canada came in
second with a score of 641.50 and Italy finished right behind, scoring
Three of the four U.S. riders finished with the highest individual
scores. Tom McCutcheon of Pilot Point, TX, riding Conquistador Whiz,
owned by George Shifrin, scored on top with 222. Shawn Flarida of
Springfield, OH, riding San Jo Freckles, owned by Michael Harper,
captured the next best score of 220. Scott McCutcheon of Whiteboro, TX,
and Inwhizable, owned by Inwhizable Partners, finished with the third
highest score of 219.50. The fourth rider on the squad Craig Schmersal
of Menifee, CA riding Tidal Wave Jack, owned by the B.S. Syndicate,
received a 215 for his ride.
The top five teams from the Qualifier, plus five additional individuals,
move on to Sunday's World Championship final with a clean slate. The
start order is determined by the results of the Qualifier with the
highest placed rider going last.
Scott McCutcheon made history Wednesday as the first United States
Equestrian Team (USET) rider ever to compete at a Reining World
Championship. McCutcheon liked being in that spot.
"It felt great to go first for the U.S. Team," he said. "I wanted my
horse to be real solid because whatever happened to me would carry out
with the rest of the team. He was great and I was real happy with him."
Scott's younger brother Tom went last for the U.S., only three riders
later. In the World Championship format, team order was determined by a
blind draw with all the members of a team competing consecutively. As
the anchor, with three solid scores already on the board, Tom felt
"The team did so well before me, I didn't feel too much pressure", said
Tom. "There was some, because you always want to show well and do the
horse justice, especially in front of a large crowd. My horse felt
great and did all that I wanted him to do. I didn't want to shoot all
my bullets in the first round; the medal round is where you want to do
USET Chef d'Equipe Jeff Petska was thrilled with the team and the World
"We're just tickled to death to be here," said Petska. "We've come here
prepared to do our best and we are thrilled with how things have gone to
this point. We're happy with where we are, but it's a clean slate in
the finals so anything can happen. It's going to be exciting right down
to the end."
U.S. show jumper Peter
Wylde is in fourth place at the conclusion of the first round for the
Team and Individual placings in the Show Jumping World Championships at
the World Equestrian Games in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.
Wylde, who currently reside in Maastricht, Holland, riding Fein Cera,
owned by the Fein Cera Group has only 1.55 penalties entering Thursday's
two-round competition that serves as the Team final. Less than one
fault separates the top three riders. Sydney Olympic team Silver
Medalist Markus Fuchs of Switzerland had the fastest clear round to take
the top spot in Wednesday's speed class. Eric Levallois of France
claimed second with a score of .16 and 1992 Barcelona Olympic Champion
Ludger Beerbaum of Germany finished third with .50.
The United States squad is currently seventh in the team standings, but
is less than two rails from medal position with a combined score of
13.75. France leads the way with a total score of 4.22, Germany is in
second with 7.69 and Sweden is third on 9.02.
At first it looked like the United States had luck on its side. Peter
Wylde and Fein Cera had a textbook round with only time against them
going third in the line-up and first for the U.S. Wylde was ecstatic.
"It's such a great feeling," said Wylde. "I love this horse! She went
as good as I expected and the fact that my score held up confirmed my
Then the luck started to fade. Nicole Simpson of Westlake Village, CA,
riding El Campeon's Cirka Z, owned by El Campeon Farm, went next but had
a rail that was converted to five time penalties in the speed class
format and ended up in thirty first place with a converted score of 5.45.
"We had an unlucky rail at the last jump," said Simpson. "I thought he
went really well and then he nicked the last one at the end."
Things seemed to get worse instead of better. Beezie Madden of
Cazenovia, NY went third for the U.S. on Judgement, owned by Iron Spring
Farm. Madden had two rails and placed forty-seventh with a converted
score of 6.75.
"He spooked a little at the last minute," said Madden. "I think it had
to do with all the colorful material underneath."
The U.S. final rider, two-time Olympic veteran Leslie Howard of
Westport, CT, riding Priobert de Kalvarie, owned by Higher Ground Farm,
had the unluckiest round of all. The pair barely left the ground going
into the first part of the triple combination, so Howard was forced to
pull out and start the fence over giving them the most time penalties of
the squad and placing them in fifty-ninth individually with a converted
score of 8.75 which was the U.S.'s drop score.
"He hesitated for a slight second because of the way the sun made a
shadow on the fence," said Howard. "I don't think he knew it was a triple."
U.S. Equestrian Team (USET) Chef d'Equipe Frank Chapot is optimistic
about the U.S.'s chances for a team medal.
"I think we can dig our way out," said Chapot. "Two of our strongest
horses messed up today and hopefully they will go better tomorrow."
The Nations' Cup class that determines the team medal and also serves as
the next two rounds of the individual competition takes place on Thursday.
Comprehensive coverage of all World Equestrian Games competition is
available on the USET website at www.uset.org.
The United States Equestrian Team is a non-profit organization that
selects, trains, equips and finances equestrians of the highest possible
standard to represent our country in major international competition,
including the Olympic Games and the World Championships. To accomplish
this, the USET seeks out and nurtures the development of talented
athletes - riders, drivers, vaulters and horses - and provides the
support and guidance they need to help them attain their fullest
For more information on the USET, please call (908)
234-1251, or visit USET ONLINE at www.uset.org.