Sept. 21, 2005 -- The European-dominated Samsung Super League cleared the way for some fresh faces in the winner's circle--four U.S. horse-and-rider teams, under the direction of the United States' new coach, George Morris. After a summer filled with close competition, the U.S. show jumping team clinched the 2005 Samsung Super League overall win on September 18 in Barcelona.
"We had great riders and great horses. This is quite a feather in our cap and it wasn't just one competition--it was a series of eight throughout the summer," said Morris.
Only eight countries are invited to take part in the Samsung Super League competition each year, and following the points total at the end of the season, the last country drops out, slowly and surely whittling down the "who's who" list in the show jumping world.
The four U.S. riders and their mounts (Jeffery Welles of Ridgefield, Conn., with Armani, Lauren Hough of Wellington, Fla., with Casadora, McLain Ward of Brewster, N.Y., with Oasis and Laura Kraut of Oconomowoc, Wisc., with Anthem) tied for second place overall at CSIO Barcelona, the eighth and final leg of the 2005 Samsung Super League series. Their score converted into 12 points, which was enough to keep them in the lead overall, where they finished with a total of 55 points.
In second overall were the Germans. Their tie for fourth place at CSIO Barcelona added only seven points to their total, for an overall score of 46.
While several U.S. riders from this group competed in more than one leg of the league, collectively they were part of a larger team of more than 12 U.S. riders. In an effort to keep riders and horses fresh, competing countries are able to change their "starting line-ups" throughout the competition.
Welles, a newcomer to Super League competition, was the saving grace for win. He was the only U.S. rider to jump clear in both rounds in the competition.
"Psychologically, this win is a big boost for the country," said Morris, "and not only for the elite riders, but for all riders. It's a great boost for American equitation."
Final Overall Results from the 2005 Samsung Super League
1. United States, 55 points
2. Germany, 46 points
3. Great Britain, 41 points
4. Switzerland, 40 points
5. The Netherlands, 38.5 points
6. France, 29 points
7. Ireland, 22 points
8. Belgium, 20.5 points