Articles: Press Release
U.S. Fights for a Hard-Earned Bronze Team Show Jumping Medal at the XV
Pan American Games
United States Equestrian Federation, Inc.
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Web site: www.usef.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2007
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil-It was a battle between the host
country-Brazil-and the teams from Canada and the United States for the
team show jumping medal today at Deodoro Stadium outside Rio de Janeiro.
Fittingly, it was the host country's most popular equestrian
athlete-Rodrigo Pessoa-that was the last to go in the two-round series
of Nations Cup jumping that sealed the deal for a Team Gold medal. Team
Canada earned the Silver medal, and the U.S. contingent was awarded with
a Bronze. The four members of the U.S. team did their all to fight off
their challengers, including a run at a medal by the team from Mexico
that seemed to fall apart in Round Two.
The Brazilian team finished their medal win on a combined computed score
of 9.67, ahead of Canada's 14.72 and the 27.20 posted by the United
States team comprised of North Palm Beach, Florida, resident Cara
Raether aboard Ublesco (a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion owned
by Trelawny Farm); Wellington, FL, resident Lauren Hough aboard Casadora
(an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Laura and Meredith Mateo);
Neshanic Station, New Jersey, resident Laura Chapot aboard Little Big
Man (her 13-year-old KWPN Dutch Warmblood gelding); and Loxahatchee,
Florida, resident Todd Minikus aboard Pavarotti (his 10-year-old KWPN
Dutch Warmblood gelding).
Nations Cup Round One
The morning began with a handful of early eliminations, including
several riders that looked completely out of their depth. The morning's
big and challenging Nations Cup course severed up refusal after refusal.
Potential serious injury occurred when the sole rider from El Salvador,
Alfredo Hernandez, tumbled over his horse on the last jump-an oxer. He
was carried from the arena on a stretcher. Another rider, Ecuador's
Rodrigo Bermeo Andrade, had stirrup problems and ended up being
eliminated after a refusal at fence seven-a vertical. He was determined
to not leave the ring without conquering the jump. With his foot
securely back in the stirrups, he re-approached the challenge to be
tossed from his mount and nearly trampled.
The first rider for Team USA was Lauren Hough aboard Casadora. They led
the American contingent after Day One and came back to improve in the
team's overall standing. They were one of the first pairings to
successfully clear the triple combination that saw poles fly all
morning. It was in the last double combination that they took on their
only downed pole-a narrow oxer at 11b-and finished with one time penalty
to boot. Their combined score (when added to the one from the previous
day) was 6.29 on a time of 81.43. This put them in eighth place going
into the afternoon.
"I'm still kicking myself for the time fault," said Hough "That's
inexcusable in a Nations Cup...the time fault still has me angry."
Cara Raether and Ublesco was the second pairing from Team USA to take to
the test and the first to post a clean-and-clear round of the day. It
was a round during which every fan of the U.S. team held their
collective breath. She successfully cleared the triple, and sailed over
the open water that plagued many. The pair took a tight turn to the
double combination at 11 (that also caused many problems for the riders)
and cleared it nicely. It was then that they seemed to slide going into
the penultimate jump at 12, which they were somehow able to navigate. It
was one of the morning's highlights as they finished on a score of zero
faults and a time of 78.72 seconds. When combined with their day-before
score, they finished the morning with a score of 7.53 and sat in 10th
"I was very happy with him," said Raether of her mount.
Following Raether, things seemed to turn around with clear rounds
popping up more frequently-first from Brazil's Pedro Veniss and Un
Blancs de Blanc (sitting in fourth place after the morning) and then
from the previous day's leader, Canadian Jill Henselwood. While she
clipped quite a few rails, she downed none to go clean-and-clear on a
time of 76.72 and a two-day score of 0.00 to finish the morning in first
Laura Chapot was third to go on Little Big Man. They made it through the
trying triple and took a wide turn coming off it to approach the option
at fence five. After clearing the open water, the pair downed a rail at
the vertical at fence seven. They proceeded to tackle to remains of the
course, and they finished with the sole fault on a time of 78.78
seconds, and a two-day morning total of 5.38, sitting them in a
momentary seventh place heading into the afternoon.
Chapot mentioned the state of her horse, which has had some health
concerns in Rio, saying that he felt a little tired outside the ring,
but perked up once on his mission.
"I was a little worried that he might not have his normal striding but
he felt fantastic," said Chapot. "He's got a lot of heart, and he wants
to do it himself."
Team USA's final rider-Todd Minikus-came back on Friday aboard his
Pavarotti determined to let the prior day's problems stay in the past.
Unfortunately, it would not work out that way in the morning round. The
beginning of the round looked controlled, but it did not last.
Approaching the menacing open water, there was something of a
stutter-stride. This sent his plan of attack off kilter and landed the
horse in the middle of the water. Minikus plummeted to the ground,
rolling onto his side to avoid landing head-first. The pair was
eliminated from the round.
"My horse is generally a good water jumper," said Minikus. "I had a
problem with one stride, and then I legged him and he took one stride
and left and 'stood on his head.'" Minkius "tweaked" his back a bit and
said that he was sure that it would be fine.
Home-country favorite and Olympic Gold medalist Rodrigo Pessoa, aboard
Rufus, was one of the last to enter the ring in the morning, and his
countrymen were ecstatic in their welcome. The rider almost had problems
with the triple, but managed to clear it, as well as the water. He
continued through the course clean-and-clear to thunderous applause and
an ovation in 77.11 seconds. He would end up in third place overall, for
the time being, on a two-day score of 1.74.
Last but not least was Canadian legend Ian Millar and In Style who put
down a textbook round, and considering that he has competed in more
Nations Cup than some of his competition combined, it was fittingly so.
The pair sailed through the course masterfully and slid into a
second-place spot for the morning on a two-day score of 0.29, just
behind fellow Canadian Jill Henselwood who put in the fastest fault-free
round. He finished the test in 78.19 seconds.
At the end of the first of the two Nations Cup rounds, Team USA sat in a
potential Bronze-medal position on a team score of 19.20 (Minikus' score
was dropped, as only the top three members' scores are used). In
Gold-medal contention was Brazil (5.67) and Canada sat in second place
on a combined team score of 6.72. The team from Mexico sat in fourth,
not out of the medals game, at 25.89. But, there was plenty of jumping
left to be seen and no medals had been determined as yet.
Nations Cup Round Two
Thirty-nine horse-and-rider combinations returned for the determining
round to decide the team medals, and there was some serious demolition
going on. Alfredo Hernandez of El Salvador was back and plowed into the
Liverpool at fence 3, which he re-approached and was once again refused.
He was eliminated. Another rider to suffer elimination was the Domincan
Republic's Georgia Ieromazzo who plowed through the last of the fences
in the triple and landed on the ground. Chile's Samuel Parot and
Signature completely demolished the wall at #10. It was going to come
down to a test between the U.S., Canada and Brazil, and quite simply
which country dropped the most rails.
Team USA's Hough took to the course, and with Casadora, they put in a
clean-and-clear round-the second of the afternoon's test. They added no
faults to the team score.
"I came back in the second round, and she [Casadora] was great," said
Hough. "In general, I'm very pleased...and I thought the course was
excellent. It was a tough course, but I think very fair."
Next up was Cara Raether and Ublesco, who wanted to duplicate her
earlier clean-and-round from the morning. She cleared the rails that
caused problems for others and leaped over the option at fence 5.
However, she downed the second fence in the triple to take on four
"I was kicking myself a little bit for the second round. I could have
held him [Ublesco] a little stronger," said Raether. "But, overall, I'm
very happy with him."
Laura Chapot and Little Big Man were third up, and they wanted to
improve upon their initial one rail from the morning. Unfortunately, a
foot caught the water jump, and they duplicated their four-fault round.
Of her horse, Chapot said, "I'm really proud of him, he jumped
fantastic, I though. I was a bit surprised at how enormous his stride
was...especially being a little off and tired." In the second round, she
said that she didn't ever remember when she had taken on a water fault
with this horse. "He must have just barely touched it," she said.
Todd Minikus and Pavarotti did not jump. The team finished on a score of
27.20, posting a total of eight faults, enough for the Bronze medal.
"I'm very proud of these girls," said Minikus. "They've done a hell of a
job...I'm very proud to be associated with them."
Chapot added that the group was very happy to have Minikus on the team,
and she noted that he had a "fluky" thing happen in the first round with
his refusal and that it was good to know that there was such a strong
team player as the anchor rider. "It was an unfortunate thing that
happened today to Todd, and it was obviously a freak thing and not
something you would expect," she said.
"We've all been there before, that's for sure," added Hough.
Concerning her horse, Little Big Man, Chapot said that he was tired and
that she would evaluate whether or not to compete him in the Individual
medal competition based on he felt on Sunday.
In the end, it came down to Canada and Brazil for the Gold.
Canada's Mac Cone and Melinda pulled down the first effort and then
planted a foot in the water to take on eight points. The leader, Jill
Henselwood and Special Ed, proved just how special they were as they
narrowly cleared the triple. But, their luck ran out at the fence 11 as
they caught the edge of the rail to take on an unwelcome four faults.
Eric Lamaze and Hickstead posted a clean-and-clear round to add nothing
to his country's score. Ian Millar and In Style were back, and they
dropped the ninth obstacle to take on four faults. Team Canada finished
with a total of eight faults for Round Two and a Silver medal to take
But it was Brazil, with its amazing fan-base that had come out to
support them, that would be keeping the Gold medal on home turf. From
the beginning, it was evident that they were a formidable force to be
reckoned with, and they never let up their dominance in the competition.
First to go for the team was Bernardo Alvarez and Chupa Chup 2 who
dropped one rail-the first in the triple at fence four to add four
faults. Pedro Veniss and Un Blancs de Blanc managed to go around without
flaw. He added nothing to his country's score. Cesar Almeida and
Singular Joter II wanted to repeat their flawless round from the
morning...and that is exactly what they did. The result was an explosion
of waving Brazilian flags and screams of adoration. They were setting
themselves up for a Gold medal and the crowd was delirious with
anticipation. The last rider to go, and the deciding combination to win
Brazil the Gold, was Rodrigo Pessoa and Rufus. They dropped the first
rail in the triple combination to the crowd's shocked reaction. As
flashbulbs popped, the pair continued through the course and cleared the
remaining jumps. A four-fault finish guaranteed the Gold medal for the
home country, and the crowd could not have been happier.
The Individual show jumping competition is contested on Sunday, the
final day of the XV Pan American Games, with a two-round test. The top
horse-and-rider combinations will vie for some of the final medals to be
awarded at these games, and three American riders-Lauren Hough aboard
Casadora, Laura Chapot aboard Little Big Man and Cara Raether aboard
Ublesco have qualified to compete for a medal.
For more information please contact Joanie Morris, Communication
Manager, High Performance at email@example.com.
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