by Helen Murray
Team and Individual Championship jumping competition at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games continued Wednesday in the d’Ornano Stadium as 150 horse-and-rider combinations went to task in the Individual Qualifier and Team Competition. On a day where Frédéric Cottier’s 13-obstacle track caused a great shake-up of the leader board, the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team climbed one place in the standings to head into Thursday’s final team round in second-place on a score of 8.72. Beezie Madden jumped two spots to stand second individually.
“Thanks to my teammates. We are guardedly excited, but we know the top teams will all be in there fighting for it tomorrow,” said Madden of the U.S. Team’s standing and of the Team medal that is first and foremost on her mind. “I’m just focusing on the team and hopefully we get a Team Gold medal, and anything else would be icing on the cake.”
As has become tradition for the U.S. in championship competition, McLain Ward (Brewster, N.Y.) jumped in the lead-off position for the United States. The two-time Olympic Team Gold medalist had the unenviable position of being first in the ring on Wednesday after the U.S. drew first in the order of 33 teams, but was unfazed as he piloted Sagamore Farm’s Rothchild to a clear effort.
In Tuesday’s Speed Leg, the pair did not have luck on their side as the 13-year-old Warmblood gelding barely touched a rail to collect four faults. However, their fortune was reversed on Wednesday as the rail at fence 11 stayed in place despite a rub.
“It adds a little anxiety, but the horse knows his job and I know him, and it’s a good start for the team,” said Ward of being the pathfinder on Wednesday. “I had a little bad luck yesterday but got some good luck at that oxer, but that’s the sport.”
Individually the pair carries a score of 2.56 and stands in eighth place.
Kent Farrington (Wellington, Fla.) jumped in the second spot for the U.S. with Amalaya Investments’ Voyeur. The pair looked on track to repeat Ward’s clear effort, but it was not meant to be when the one-stride distance in the double at 12 came up too short for the 12-year-old KPWN gelding, resulting in the front rail of the oxer coming down. They stand in 25th heading into the third round of jumping on six faults.
“We’re in the running; it wasn’t the round we were looking for but it wasn’t a disaster either,’ said Farrington. “At the end of the course that’s a difficult question, at the end the horses heat up a bit and that’s what happened to my horse, he just got too aggressive at the end.”
Lucy Davis (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Old Oak Farm’s Barron entered d’Ornano Stadium looking for redemption on Wednesday after a miscommunication in the speed leg saw them fault at the wall jump. The 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood demonstrated his scope and athleticism, producing a near foot-perfect round but the pair were once again plagued with four faults at the wall, fence seven, when they dislodged a top brick.
“It was a bummer; every other jump he was fine with,” said Davis. “I think we can keep improving and hopefully contribute to the team.”
Davis and Barron stand on a total of 10.21 in 46th place after two rounds of jumping.
Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.) and Cortes ‘C’ jumped in the anchor position for the Americans, producing their second consecutive clear round of the 2014 World Championships. Abigail Wexner’s 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding once again made light work of the course that caught out many of the world’s best combinations.
“My horse is so fantastic and he seems to love the place and is jumping so well; it’s so great if you have confidence in your horse.”
The Netherlands leads the Team standings on a score of 4.83, with Germany just one-tenth of a point behind the U.S. on a score of 8.82. In the Individual rankings, France’s Patrice Delaveau and Orient Express HDC lead with a score of .08, Madden and Cortes ‘C’ stand second with .016, Rolf Goran Bengtsson of Sweden stands third with Casall Ask on .34, and Germany’s Daniel Duesser and Cornet D’Amour rounds out the top four with .70.