June 5, 2009 -- The U.S. show jumpers continued their march across Europe with another amazing performance in St. Gallen, Switzerland, in the third leg of the Meydan FEI Nations' Cup on June 5. Christine McCrea, Ashlee Bond, Laura Kraut and Richard Spooner stayed on the roll that began May 29 in Rome and continued with a jump-off for the win in Switzerland.
"It doesn't happen often back-to-back to win in a top league like this," said Chef d'Equipe George Morris. "This is a great group. Wwe have five great riders and a bunch of wonderful horses."
Morris selected Spooner (Agua Dulce, Calif.) to jump off to break the tie. The seasoned veteran carried the weight of the win back into the ring for the third time.
"I could have used any of the three in the jump off," said Morris of Spooner, Kraut and Bond. "Richard's horse was very, very fast in Rome, but I didn't want to get him any more strong, he was very strong today. I thought maybe Ashlee's horse as he was a bit more backed up, Richard helps Ashlee, Ashlee was leaning to Richard, so I said we can flip a coin. Ashlee would have done a great job. Richard is a master craftsman, a master jump-off rider."
Spooner, known across the U.S. jumping community for his uncanny ability to shave seconds off seemingly unbeatable times, put the Europeans on notice that his accelerator was good on both sides of the Atlantic. Riding Cristallo, an 11-year-old gelding owned by Half Moon Bay, Inc., Spooner went head-to-head with German rider Marcus Ehning after the two teams were tied on four faults after the two Nations' Cup rounds.
Spooner had the disadvantage of going first in the jump off. He put up a lightning fast time on the headstrong Cristallo but had the fourth fence down, a tall vertical, meaning that all Ehning had to do was jump clear. Riding Plot Blue, the German rider hunted around the course in textbook style, but had the very last fence down with the lightest of rubs. Spooner was more than 10 seconds faster, so his time prevailed.
"Richard's strategy was he had to really lay it on him," said Morris. "Marcus is a very fast and smooth rider. If he hadn't, Marcus could have gone very fast. Richard had a little bad luck at one fence. Marcus played it right and carefully but just hit the last fence."
Bond (Hidden Hills, Calif.) continued to defy her age for the U.S. as the 26-year-old rider jumped two clear rounds on Cadett 7 for the third consecutive Nations' Cup event--an unprecedented achievement.
Olympic veterans Kraut and Cedric had one rail in the second round after a first round clear, continuing their consistent roll through Europe. McCrea and Vegas struggled in the second round and retired but they served as valuable substitutions for Lauren Hough and Quick Study.
This puts the U.S. team on top of the Meydan FEI Nations' Cup standings, over the nine other best jumping teams in the world.
"I'm very pleased, it is very, very important to stay in this league," said Morris. "This league is our preparation for championships. This gives us a leg up for the summer. Not that we can coast but it will give everyone confidence."
The next stop on the Meydan FEI Nations' Cup Tour is Rotterdam in Holland on June 19.
1. USA, 22.0
2. Switzerland, 21.0
3. Germany, 16.5
4. The Netherlands, 11.5
5. France, 11.0
6. Great Britain, 9.0
7. Belgium, 8.5
8. Sweden, 7.0
9. Italy, 4.0
10. Ireland, 3.5
For more information, visit http://www.meydanfeinationscup.org