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Defender U.S. Eventing Team Sits in Third Overnight Looking to Final Cross-Country Phase

by | Jul 6, 2024, 5:16 AM

Aachen, Germany – The Defender U.S. Eventing Team holds third place overnight as they look towards the final phase of cross-country in the SAP Cup CCIO4*-S at CHIO Aachen. The team, led by Chef d’Equipe Bobby Costello, produced solid scores keeping them within reach of the top five after the dressage phase, with the team then producing four consecutive clear rounds in the Main Stadium for their jumping phase later in the day. They currently sit on 102.1 combined team penalties behind Great Britain on 96.3, and Australia on 100.1.

"After a bit of a slow start in the dressage this morning, all four of our athletes dug in and put together some really classy and clear rounds to move right up into the conversation for tomorrow," said Chef d'Equipe Bobby Costello. "Cross-country is serious, as it usually is here in Aachen, and our riders have a very clear plan for what they need to do to bring home a result for the team."


James Alliston (San Ramon, Calif.) and Karma, who have steadily worked their way into the team fold for the program over the past few years, produced a consistent test in the morning to start off the day. The pair earned a 36.0, overcoming the significant atmosphere of Deutsche Bank Stadium. Hallie Coon (Ocala, Fla.) and Cute Girl, followed as the second combination in the order for the team, displaying a very clean test with strong flying changes, to earn a 33.2.

All four team combinations are experiencing Aachen for the first time. Alyssa Phillips (Ft. Worth, Texas) and Oskar, having gained significant experience over the last year, and worked to keep themselves in the hunt at such a significant competition to earn a 33.20 in the dressage, tied with teammate Coon and Cute Girl. Liz Halliday (Lexington, Ky.) who has competed at Aachen previously, but never with Shanroe Cooley, was chosen to shoulder the responsibility of the anchor combination, adding pressure to secure a reliable score for the team. The pair saluted at the centerline, receiving a 35.7 for their work in the arena from the judging panel.

With the team pulling second in the overall draw, they went early in both phases, which set up for an interesting and influential evening of jumping competition. The course, set by Frank Rothenberger (GER), featured a challenging triple combination towards the ring's rail and proved to shift the overall standings with rails falling throughout.

Alliston and Karma, a 2014 Oldenburg mare owned by Alliston Equestrian and Ric Plummer, and cared for by Sophie Hulme and Sophie Tice, rose to the challenge as the first combination for the team to test the track. The pair weren’t phased by the atmosphere and buzz of the Main Stadium, producing a lovely clear round within the time allowed to stay on their dressage score of 36.

Aboard Cute Girl, a 2014 Holsteiner mare owned by Hallie & Helen Coon and cared for by Helen Elston, Coon rode a smooth and precise round, showcasing the mare’s scope, to produce a strong score and add nothing to the team tally, also staying on their dressage score of 33.2, and holding 16th individually.

Phillips and Oskar, a 2009 Holsteiner gelding owned by Alyssa & Julie Phillips and cared for by Alyssa Dobrotin, added another successful jumping round to their record, executing a fluid and accurate round, to mark the third clear for the team within the time allowed. The pair will move forward individually in 17th and remain on their score of 33.2.

As the final combination with three clears already secured for the team, Halliday and Shanroe Cooley, a 2015 Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Ocala Horse Properties and cared for by Jordan Crabo, entered the ring with confidence and rode a perfect round to earn the fourth clear round for the team, the only nation in the competition to do so and moving up to 22nd overall.

The cross-country phase to conclude the CCIO4*-S will begin at 9:55 a.m. GMT+2/3:55 a.m. ET, with the U.S. heading out second in the team rotation. Alliston and Karma will head from the start box at 10:58 p.m., Halliday and Shanroe Cooley will head out at 11:33 p.m., while Phillips and Oskar will take their turn around the track at 12:05 p.m. Coon and Cute Girl will be the final combination to take to the course at 12:37 p.m.  

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