June 1, 2009 -- The U.S. show jumping squad bounced back with a valiant effort, winning the second leg of the Meydan FEI Nations' Cup in Rome, Italy, on May 29. After winning back-to-back Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008, chef d'equipe George Morris brought a team of mixed experience to Rome and dominated the nine other nations to finish on a two-round total of 4 faults. The French finished second on 8, followed by Great Britain on 12.
"I predicted last week that on paper this was a very strong horse/rider team," said Morris. "I said that if we have the luck this is a strong group and the rest will be lucky to beat us."
Ashlee Bond (Hidden Hills, Calif.) and Cadett 7 appear to have taken a serious liking to Europe. The 26-year-old rider jumped two immaculate rounds on the chestnut gelding, a feat only duplicated by three other riders.
"I am honored to be a part of such an amazing team and riding for such an amazing country," said Bond.
Laura Kraut (Wellington, Fla.) and her Olympic superstar, Cedric, added one rail in the second round after their first round clear. Happy Hill Farm's diminutive grey gelding appears to grow wings at the biggest competitions.
Veteran Lauren Hough (Wellington, Fla.), got the U.S. effort started off right with Quick Study--she jumped an immaculate clear in the first round as the first American in the ring. They added 8 in the second, but Quick Study is establishing himself as another top-class horse in Hough's string.
Richard Spooner (Aqua Dulce, Calif.) and the classy Cristallo had one rail in the first round at a narrow vertical, but roared back with a clear in the second round ensuring that no U.S. rider was going to leave Rome without a clear round to their name.
This finish leaves the U.S. in second place in the Meydan FEI Nations' Cup League, behind the Swiss. Next stop on the tour is St. Gallen in Switzerland, where the Swiss will have to defend their lead on home turf June 5.