U.S. Fights for a Hard-Earned Bronze Team Show Jumping Medal at the XV Pan American Games
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 place.
“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