WELLINGTON, Fla., March 15 - The home side emerged victorious in the $50,000 U.S.A. vs. The World, presented by CN, held Saturday night under the lights during week nine, the CSI4*-W CN WorldWide, of the CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Ten riders representing the United States and ten riders representing other nations went head-to-head in three exciting phases of competition - an accumulator, a match race, and a six bar. Cheered on by the large crowd that gathered to watch the inaugural 'winner-take-all' event that saw $50,000 awarded to the winning team, the riders first competed in the accumulator. The World was ahead at the end of phase one as Kevin Babington of Ireland, Ben Maher of Great Britain, Conor Swail of Ireland, Pablo Barrios of Venezuela, and Eric Lamaze of Canada all scored more points than their American counterparts. Only Francie Steinwedell-Carvin was able to win one for the U.S., concluding the accumulator phase with a score of 10 points for The World, two points for The U.S.A.
In the Match Race, all team members went head-to-head over identical tracks, racing to cross the finish line first while leaving all the jumps in place. Again, The World pulled ahead with Peter Charles, Shane Sweetnam and Edward Doyle, all of Ireland, Maher, Pato Muente of Argentina, and Swail all winning their matches to earn 12 points for The World Team. For the U.S., Nicole Simpson scored an impressive victory riding Tomorrow, Kent Farrington won with Whatever, Candice King and Cascador crossed the finish line first and Margie Engle with Hidden Creek's Calippo 12 won their races, but the total of eight points gained still left them trailing behind.
In the Six-Bar competition, valuable points were on offer and the U.S. took full advantage. Charles and Murkas Pom d'Ami gained the maximum points for The World by jumping all four rounds clearly, but when Laura Kraut did the same with Likido, successfully clearing the final fence set at 6'3", the United States pulled ahead for victory. When the final points were tabulated, it was 58 for the U.S., 54 for The World.
"I thought it was great, I have never heard so many people scream as when I entered the ring," said Kraut of Wellington, Fla., of her winning ride. "I was a bit depressed after the first two events, but to be able to come back and win was great. I thought it was a very interesting format."
Kraut has been riding her mount, Likido, for the past four weeks and, one day earlier, the 11-year-old German-bred gelding was purchased for her by one of her clients. Of the $50,000 U.S.A. vs. The World inaugural event, Kraut said, "It makes it interesting for the crowd. It helps to educate people who are not in the horse show world and show them what the sport is all about. The finish was unbelievable."
While Terrance 'Torchy' Millar of Canada acted as the World Team Captain, George Morris was the U.S.A. Team Captian.
"We have to have some theater in the sport in order to get the spectators," commented Morris. "There was great energy, great enthusiasm. Something is happening!"
Gladiator Polo followed the show jumping, also run as in a winner take all format for a total of $15,000. Entertainment included a live band, dinner was served in the International Club, CN hosted a party, and many spectators brought picnic baskets to enjoy while watching the evening events under the lights in the International Arena.
The CSI4*-W CN WorldWide concludes Sunday, March 16, with the $200,000 CN WorldWide Grand Prix which acts as a World Cup Qualifying event. The 2008 CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising, attracts the best horses and riders from around the world to Wellington, Fla., and offers more than $5 million in prize money. For more information, please visit http://www.equestriansport.com
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PHOTO: "Laura Kraut's performance riding Likido in the Six Bar phase secured victory for the home side in the $50,000 U.S.A. vs. The World, presented by CN, on Saturday night, March 15, at the CN Winter Equestrian Festival presented by Zimmerman Advertising."
Photo Credit: Ken Braddick, Horse Sport USA
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/us-battle-nations-03-08.html">U.S Reigns Supreme in $50,000 Battle of the Nations</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com