Quote of the Week
“Thank you Emerald, you’ve been an incredible teammate, inspiration and friend. A horse in a million and forever a star of our sport.”
—Harrie Smolders bids a fond farewell to his longtime partner, Emerald. The Belgian stallion retired from the sport this week after a career filled with highs, including second place in the 2016 FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals in Gothenburg.
Harrie Smolders & Emerald (c) Instagram/@HarrieSmolders
#TeamMexico Blazes to Victory in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the United States of America
Deeridge Farm in Wellington played host to an unexpected shakeup this weekend in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the United States of America where the Mexican team dominated from start to finish.
Eugenio Garza Perez & Victer Finn DH Z (c) Kathy Russell Photography/Palm Beach Masters
A young Mexican team comprised of Fernando Martinez Sommer (Cor Bakker), Eugenio Garza Perez (Victer Finn DH Z), Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado (Tino La Chapelle), Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane (Hortensia Van De Leeuwerk), and led by Chef d’Equipe Stanny van Paesschen earned their stripes over multiple rounds on Sunday, February 17, finishing on just 4 faults after the final round thanks to double-clear performances by Garza Perez and Gonzalez Dufrane. Team Israel finished second and Team U.S.A. third.
After the first rotation, Mexico sat in pole position on a score of zero, with the U.S.A. and Ireland tied for second on 8. Team Israel moved up the rankings in the second round, finishing on zero faults to retain their score of 9, while Ireland slipped back to fourth place after adding 9 to their total. “This is my first Nations Cup, so it is just unbelievable for me,” said Gonzalez Dufrane. “I tried to focus and keep calm, and everything went well. I know my mare quite well, but today [my team] gave me advice that made me jump even better and become more connected.”
At just 22, PonyClub U-25 Ambassador Eugenio Garza Perez was the most experienced member of #TeamMexico this weekend, having already been a part of the underdog team that rode to victory in the now-notorious Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ in Dublin last summer. As the first of only three competitions for the North and Central America & Caribbean Nations Cup™ League (and the only U.S. leg), Mexico will net 100 points to America’s 80 in the standings ahead of the Coapexpan CSIO 5* on their home turf this May.
It’s an impressive victory for two big reasons: the age of the Mexican team (all are under 30) and who they were facing—a stacked U.S. lineup of experienced combinations, among them Ward & H.H. Azur, Madden & Breitling LS, and Kraut & Confu. “Coming up from our team’s win in Dublin, we knew that we had a good team—a great team—great riders and great horses,” said Garza Perez. “These three riders are amazing. They ride much more than their age, and we really pulled together and pulled out the win.”
If You Can Only Watch One Round…
Watch Paul O’Shea Earn the Biggest Win of His Career at the Palm Beach Masters
Only three riders made it through to the second round of the $210,000 Longines Grand Prix during the second week of the Palm Beach Masters Series at Deeridge Farm, and Paul O’Shea was one of them. Making use of Imerald van’t Voorhof’s tremendous speed across the ground (Imerald is the son of Harrie Smolders’s Emerald, who retired this week) the pair dashed through the timers just ahead of Margie Goldstein-Engle and Royce to ride away with the jump-off and the class. Bravo!
This Just In...
Jan Tops Buys Janika Sprunger’s Bacardi VDL
The talented, 13-year-old KWPN stallion Bacardi VDL will move to the stable of Jan Tops, according to a new report issued this week. Together with Switzerland’s Janika Sprunger, the stallion has been a top player for the Swiss team for the last five years, most recently winning the World Cup Qualifier in Dubai this January. A new rider for the horse has yet to be announced.
Life Lessons With McLain
Ziggy & McLain (c) Megan Hoffman/The Plaid Horse
What happens when an aspiring young rider looking for confidence meets his idol, U.S. Olympian McLain Ward, at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington? The answer is, lots, and all of it requires the nearest box of Kleenex. Megan Hoffman’s latest piece for The Plaid Horse highlights the best that our sport has to offer, and that’s something we can all get behind.
#TeamMexico Celebrates Their Big Win Pond-Side
Dumping the celebratory Gatorade cooler on your coach is a well-known sporting tradition, so just think of this as the equestrian version: the Mexican squad capped off their winning weekend at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the United States of America with a quick dip in the Deeridge Pond, and we can’t help but cheer them on. (Just wait for Chef Stanny to make his entrance in 3, 2, 1…)