March 4, 2012 -- Clear rounds were the way to win at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center as 10 countries took part in the $75,000 FEI Nations Cup presented by G&C Farm. The US team jumped to an equal fourth place finish with the team from Great Britain over Anthony D 'Ambrosio's 12 obstacle course. The finished on a 22 fault total. Of the 10 nations to contest America's only Nations Cup, the top six teams from the first round returned to the International Ring for round two. The German team of Jorg Opperman and Che Guevara 17, David Will and Don Cesar, Johannes Ehning and Salvador V and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Checkmate 4 claimed top honors on four total faults. The team from Ireland finished second with eight faults and Canada placed third on a score of nine faults in the feature class of CSIO week at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival.
Leading off the American effort was Lauren Hough (Wellington, Fla.) and Laura and Meredith Mateo's Quick Study. In the first round, the 13 year-old French Warmblood gelding's clear round never looked in doubt as the Nations Cup veterans cruised to a fault free effort. The pair jumped confidently in their return effort which was marred only by tapping the plank at fence four for a four fault total.
Hough's teammate from the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Mario Deslauriers (New York, N.Y.) rode Cella in the second spot for the US. The pair had an eight-fault total in round one, after kicking-out the rail at fence eight and faulting at 11B in the penultimate double combination. Jane Clark's 10-year-old Belgian mare looked to be on track to jumping fault-free in the second round, until a miscommunication approaching the final oxer meant Deslauriers was forced to circle. The pair completed their final round with four jumping faults for the refusal and two time faults.
Next up for the US was team veteran Margie Engle (Wellington, Fla.) and Gladewinds, Griese, Garber, and Hidden Creek Farm's 12-year-old Indigo. Round one came to an early end for the pair after faulting at the fourth, Engle parted company with the Dutch Warmblood gelding at the oxer at eight resulting in elimination. They returned for the second round producing an improved performance, butrails at fences eight and 11B left them with total of eight faults.
Beezie Madden and Abigail Wexner's Simon anchored the US team Friday night with two classy performances. Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.) and Simon, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, put in a clutch performance in round one jumping an immaculate clear round and ensuring the US a place in round two. The pair nearly repeated the feat in the second round but an unlucky rail at 11B resulted in four faults.
"I was really happy with him; he was excellent in the first round," said Madden. "The second round I experimented a little bit. In the first round I did the four (to the combination at 11) but I wanted to experiment a little bit and try the five; it actually felt better. He barely clipped it so I think it's over analyzing it a bit"
Chef d'Equipe George Morris was pragmatic about his team's performance tonight.
"Actions speak louder than words," said Morris. "Quick Study and Simon were beautiful, they each had unfortunate rubs but were beautiful. The other two just had some unexpected kinks that need to be worked out."
This was Germany's first Nations Cup victory at CSIO Wellington.
Video on Demand from the $75,000 FEI Nations Cup presented by G&C Farm will be available Saturday on USEFNetwork.com presented by Smartpak. For video, photos and more visit; http://usefnetwork.com/featured/2012CSIOWellington/
Other feature competitions from CSIO Week Eight at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival include; Saturday's $35,000 Herm?s Puissance and $35,000 VitaFlex Match Races at 7pm ET and Sunday's $150,000 CSIO4* Grand Prix presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty at 1 pm ET will also be live streamed on USEFNetwork.com presented by Smartpak. They can be viewed here; http://www.usefnetwork.com/featured/WEF2012