Youth had its day when an exciting young Mexican team pinned some of the world’s most successful nations into the minor placings to win the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the United States of America during the Palm Beach Masters Series at Deeridge Farm in Wellington (USA) last Sunday. This first leg of the 2019 series, which will visit 12 venues around the globe before the Final in Barcelona (ESP) in October, was also the first leg of the three-round North/Central America and Caribbean League which will continue at Coapexpan (MEX) and Langley (CAN) in May. Team Mexico really flexed their muscles when pinning an impressive new-look Israeli side into runner-up spot, and the reigning world champions from the USA into third.
You could hear them celebrating from a mile away this evening, and in the animated post-competition press conference their supporters didn’t hold back, celebrating just as enthusiastically as they did when their country reigned supreme at the final leg of the Europe Division 1 series in Dublin (IRL) last summer.
Sunday’s was sealed by double-clear performances from the two youngest members of Stany van Paesschen’s side, second-line rider Eugenio Garza Perez (23) riding Victer Finn DHZ and anchorman Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane (24) partnering the lovely grey mare Hortensia van de Leeuwerk.
Fernando Martinez Sommer (MEX) & Cor Bakker
But all four played their part, with pathfinder Fernando Martinez Sommer (29) dropping just a single rail both times out with Cor Bakker, and Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado (25) foot-perfect at his first attempt with Tino la Chapelle before double-faulting in round two.
FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 course designer, Ireland’s Alan Wade, set a track that tested rideability, and the final line of a one-stride triple combination to big oxer proved the undoing of many. However with three first-round clears the Mexicans were already in command at the halfway stage on a zero score, trailed by Ireland and USA on eight, Israel close behind with nine, last year’s Wellington winners from Canada on 12 and the three-member Colombian side already trailing the field with 16 on the board.
Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado (MEX) & Tino La Chapelle
In the end the Mexicans held on tight, but Zendejas Salgado’s penalties at the open water and the following vertical meant that Dufrane was under a lot of pressure when last to enter the arena. If those eight penalty-points had to be added to Martinez Sommer’s single mistake at the final element of the triple combination then it would be a completely different story.
Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane (MEX) & Hortensia van de Leeuwerk
“I tried to keep calm and stay really focused – we have a psychologist to help us relax so I knew how to deal with it today” Dufrane said after bringing his trustworthy 12-year-old mare home fault-free to clinch it.
Team Israel also had plenty to be pleased about, Daniel Bluman’s double-clear with Ladriano Z bolstering an impressive all-round performance that saw them add nothing to their first-round nine-fault tally for second spot. Team USA looked strongest at the outset, with super-stars Beezie Madden, McLain Ward and Laura Kraut joined by young star Lucy Deslauriers. But single errors proved costly, so they will be hoping to turn the tables when their regional League moves to Mexico next time around. Only Mexico, USA and Canada were entitled to qualifying points in today’s competition, so they claimed 100, 80 and 60 points respectively.
Garza Perez, who trains with legendary Irish rider Eddie Macken and is the only member of the Mexican side to reside in the USA, said:
Eugenio Garza Perez (MEX) & Victer Finn DH Z
“Today’s result is testament to the quality of the next generation of young Mexican riders.”
He was a member of the historic side that posted that spectacular win in Dublin last August. “That day was an inspiration to us all!” he pointed out. And now the main Mexican goal is a place at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2019. “There’s an Olympic place on offer in Barcelona, and we intend to take it!” he said.
Meanwhile Gonzalez Dufrane hopes to be selected for the next leg of the North/Central America and Caribbean series “because it’s taking place in my home town”. After today’s double-clear he’s likely to be a contender….
Team Mexico showing their emotions on the kiss-and-cry
The Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2019 series continues next weekend with the single qualifier for the Middle East which will take place in Abu Dhabi (UAE) on Saturday 23 February.
RESULTS – $290,000 LONGINES FEI JUMPING NATIONS CUP USA CSIO 5*
1) MEXICO – 4 penalty-points:
Fernando Martinez Sommer & Cor Bakker – 4 / 4
Eugenio Garza Perez & Victer Finn DHZ – 0 / 0
Jose Juan Zendejas & Tino la Chapelle – 0 / 8
Manuel Gonzales Dufrane & Hortensia van de Leeuwerk – 0 / 0
2) ISRAEL – 9 penalty-points
Daniel Bluman & Ladriano Z – 0 / 0
Ilan Ferder & J’adore van het Klinkhof – 5/ 8
Ashlee Bond & Chela LS – 4 / 0
Danielle Goldstein & Lizziemary – 8 / 0
3) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – 12 penalty-points
Beezie Madden & Breitling LS – 0 / 4
Lucy Deslauriers & Hester Hester – 8 / 0
Laura Kraut & Confu – 4 / 0
McLain Ward & HH Azur – 4 / 4
For full results, please click here.
Source: Press release by Louise Parkes for FEI – Fédération Equestre Internationale
Photos: © FEI / Shannon Brinkman