U.S. Eventing Team Wins Second Consecutive FEI Nations Cup Eventing Competition at Great Meadow International
The U.S. Eventing Team won their second consecutive FEI Nations Cup™ CICO3* at the Great Meadow International, presented by Adequan on Sunday. The team from Canada took second place and Great Britain was third.
Individually, U.S. captured the top three places. Jennie Brannigan of Reddick, FL, captured her second individual title, having won previously in 2015. Second place went to Lynn Symansky of Middleburg, VA, and six-time Olympic veteran Phillip Dutton of West Grove, PA, finished third.
A large crowd turned out for the cross country phase at the only North American leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing competition outside Europe. This year, cross country course designer Mike Etherington-Smith reversed the direction and order of the fences from the previous year to generate interest for both the competitors and spectators. The riders respected the course with 22 of the original 28 starters completing the competition.
The U.S. team consisted of Symansky, Dutton, Brannigan and Boyd Martin. All had respectable results, though for Brannigan the day was unforgettable, winning individually and securing the victory for the U.S team. Riding Nina Gardner’s Cambalda, the pair came into the final day in fourth place and catapulted to the top spot incurring only 1.6 time faults for a three-phase score of 49.8 penalties.
“The first time I came it was so exciting because it earned me a spot as a traveling alternate for the Pan Am Games, which was quite special to me,” said Brannigan. “It’s such an honor to get to ride for your country and “Ping” has been an incredible horse in a lot of ways and is wonderful to me. I really appreciate him stepping up to the plate.”
U.S. pathfinder Boyd Martin was the first rider to complete the course within the optimum time and the only one to finish on his dressage score of 58.3 penalties. Riding Steady Eddie, owned by Denise Lahey, Pierrie Colin, George and Gretchen Wintersteen, the pair finished in a time of 6 minutes and 31 seconds, two seconds under the 6:33 optimum time.
By the time Symansky left the start box, the Canadian team already had a confirmed team score. The popular local rider was clear over the fences on Donner, owned by The Donner Syndicate, LLC., adding just 1.2 time faults for a final score of 50.1 penalties and second place individually. Symansky entered the GMI as the alternate rider for the U.S. team and was added when Buck Davidson, Jr. withdrew his horse, Copper Beach, prior to the start of the competition.
“It’s such a great cohesive group. Everybody just works together and supports each other. We’re all out here to win and do the best that we can,” said Symansky. “It was awesome. The whole way around I heard people cheering me on, saying ‘come on Lynn you can do it!’ It’s cool to ride at your hometown event. It was an honor.”
Dutton, of West Grove, Pa., already knew that the U.S. had won the Nations Cup prior to going out, but an individual win was on the line. Riding Kristine and John Norton’s I’m Sew Ready, the six-time Olympic veteran finished outside the optimum time adding 5.6 time faults to his cumulative score of 51.6 penalties dropping him to third place.
The British team was the first to experience the challenge of the course. Justine Dutton had a fall with Jak My Style, owned by Kathleen Cuka, at the Adquan Beaver Pond. Matthew Heath had three refusals at the Beverly Equestrian corner on his own and Hazel Livesey’s One of a Kind. Emily Llewellyn and Emirati Night Sky, owned by Camilla Harries, rode positively around incurring only 8.8 time penalties for a three-phase score of 58.1 penalties. Anchor rider Nicky Roncoroni added 4.4 time faults with Watts Burn, owned by Janey Barclay Roncoroni and Dr. Lorna McWilliam, for a fourth place overall finish score of 53.0.
“We’ve had the most incredible experience and we’ll be coming back again,” said Roncoroni. “For sure we are all desperate to come back again. What an incredible event that you guys have made here.”
Overnight leader, Canada’s Jessica Phoenix was very nearly unseated from Don Good’s Pavarotti at the Jet Linx Launch narrow brush. She quickly recovered to finish clear adding 12.4 time faults for a cumulative score of 56.4 penalties and sixth place.
“I think it was a really exciting weekend for Canada,” said Phoenix. We almost all got personal bests this weekend, which was great for us. It’s fun every day to show up for work.”
Teammate Selena O’Hanlon was one of only three horse and rider combinations to go double clear on Foxwood High, owned by John and Judy Rumble, scoring 54.9 penalties. Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac, owned by Anthony Connolly, had the quickest trip of the day finishing on a double clear in a time of 6:21 to end with 57.3 penalties. Anchor rider Lisa Marie Fergusson rode her own Honor Me to a clear round with just two time penalties for a final score of 71.5 penalties.