Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy
Written by Darlene Ricker & Diana De Rosa
Monday, 13 October 2014 01:59

U.S. takes home seven medals in jumping, driving and reining.

The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy wrapped up in early September with the final competition, individual show jumping, which turned out to be a fingernail-biting experience for the United States.

Beezie Madden claimed the individual bronze medal and her mount, Cortes C, was the only horse that went clear in the Final Four phase of jumping. (Once the top four riders have been placed in previous rounds, the final competition has them first ride their own horse and then requires then to do a course on the other three riders' horses.)
Dutch rider Jeroen Dubbledam won the gold, not dropping a one rail riding any of the four horses. They included his horse (Zenith SFN), Cortes C, Patrice Delaveau's Orient Express HDC and Rolf-Goran Bengtsson's Casall. Patrice took the silver medal.

While always brilliant, Beezie had bad luck with two of the three horses at a triple combination, dropping one rail on each horse except her own. In fact, Cortes C was the only horse that every rider was able to negotiate the course clean on. "I always knew he was a champion and this confirms it," commented Beezie.

Silver went to Patrice, who admitted that he was disappointed because his second-place finish was due to one time fault. Patrice acknowledged that the pressure on him has been huge because as a Frenchman his fellow countrymen have been watching him closely for a long time. Yet, the truth is a silver is nothing to be disappointed about. Beezie's luck for a bronze was thanks to Rolf, who also had downed rails and time faults which gave her the two-point lead she needed despite having three rails down. It was a glorious day for the U.S. after a lackluster first week at the Games.

Earlier that week, in team jumping, Kent Farrington helped the U.S. earn the team bronze medal. The medals were a fight to the finish among the Netherlands, Germany and the U.S. all the way through the two days of team competition, with the scores remaining very close throughout. The Netherlands was able to maintain its first-place position, finishing with a score of 12.83 to win the gold medal. France earned the silver (14.08), followed by the U.S. (16.72).

Farrington said after the team medals ceremony, "Today at the end, the top five teams were within a rail of the gold medal. So I think that shows how good the competition is, and one unlucky touch here and there is the difference between being third or fourth and winning the gold. Both days I thought my horse jumped great, and with a little bit of bad luck he touched two rails and they both fell down." Frederic Cottier, the course designer, said the course was slightly higher than in previous days, adding that "It put the pressure on."

U.S. chef d'equipe Robert Ridland said, "It's a privilege to be here. We were really aiming for the gold medal, but where the sport is now, it's unbelievable how tough the competition is. We have one of the best teams we've ever fielded – I truly believe that. It was good sport. We gave it our all."

U.S. Results in Other Disciplines

Overall, the U.S. had 50/50 success in France, sweeping reining (team gold, plus gold, silver and bronze individually). Chester Weber did his nation proud as well, claiming an Individual silver in driving, with the U.S. team finishing fourth.

In endurance, only Jeremy Olson made it to the finish of the five that started and only 38 of the 175 starters finished.

In eventing there were no U.S. medals, and that day was tough for both the riders and horses. The previous days' rain created mucky going on parts of the course, and two-thirds of the starting field of 91 made it to the finish. For the safety of the horses, two jumps were removed from the course, which was slightly re-routed. Both Buck Davidson and Phillip Dutton retired on course after two refusals each, choosing to preserve their mounts rather than risk injury. The highest-placed American eventer was Boyd Martin, riding Shamwari 4.

In dressage, one of the disciplines that competed in Caen, there were no U.S. medals but some beautiful performances and personal bests. Steffen Peters of San Diego and Legolas 92 and Laura Graves riding Verdades were the two that made it into the Freestyle, with Verdades clearly capturing the judges' attention.

The U.S. Para-Dressage riders didn't medal, but they were determined and smiling no matter where they placed. It's such a wonderful honor for them to be able to compete in a World Equestrian Games. Kudos to the FEI for including this division.

No U.S. athletes medaled in vaulting, but what a great setting that was to compete in. Zenith Arena, where the vaulting was held, was electric and so much fun to be in. The team spirit was phenomenal.