Lexington, KY- June 29, 2006 - The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) recently announced the four members that will make up the Show Jumping team for the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Aachen, Germany.
The short list of accomplished riders reads like a who’s who of Show Jumping. Beezie Madden riding Authentic, McLain Ward aboard Sapphire, Margie Engle on Quervo Gold, and Laura Kraut riding Miss Independent will ride for the United States. The alternates are Jeffrey Welles piloting Armani, and Molly Ashe on Neuville.
All four riders selected for the WEG Team are Olympic veterans. Madden and Ward were both on the Olympic Gold Medal Team at Athens, Greece in 2004. The Show Jumping Chef d’Equipe is Olympian George Morris, who has been keeping a close eye on all rider and horse combinations while competing abroad this spring. It is Morris who has the daunting responsibility of leading the preparation process for the United States WEG Team that competes this August.
Following the selection trials held in Wellington, FL in March, a short list of ten rider and horse combinations was created. This list was composed of the top six finishers from the selection trials and four subjective picks. The subjective horse and rider combinations were chosen by the USEF selectors to the Show Jumping High Performance Committee and then approved by the Ad Hoc Committee on Selections. The ten horse and rider combinations were divided into two groups and each group did a European tour and participated in the Samsung Super League. Their performances abroad were observed closely by Morris for consistent results and soundness. The selectors met with Morris after the tour and made a unanimous decision that the horse and rider combinations performed similarly in the Selection Trials, as they did on the tour.
“We ended up with the exact team, in the exact order after the tour, as we had after the Selection Trials in Palm Beach,” Morris said. “There might have been some flip flopping of the riders at the bottom half of the ten spots, but the top five stayed exactly the same,” he explained. “In this case the results of the European Tour were not earth-shattering, but in another case, there might be more movement,” Morris noted.
The mix of five Olympic athletes that makes up the United States Show Jumping team and Chef d’Equipe brings decades of experience to the table. Experience and leadership is what the team will need as they compete in arguably the most prestigious equestrian competition in the world. There are high hopes that medals will be won by United States Show Jumping athletes in August.
The Show Jumping Team is headed up by one of the most consistent and competitive pairs in show jumping history, Beezie Madden and Authentic. Madden, 42, originally from Milwaukee, WI, now resides in Cazenovia, NY. Her mount is Authentic, an 11 year old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Abigail Wexner. The pair has been in the winners circle numerous times since their debut together in 2002. Madden carefully tailored Authentic’s career to give him the experience and confidence needed to bring home a Team Gold Medal in the Athens Olympic Games at the young age of nine. The rock solid pair has consistently produced clear rounds for the United States Equestrian Team and is regarded as the “team staple” going into the WEG.
The second seasoned Olympic Gold Medal pair on the team is McLain Ward and his 11 year old Belgian Warmblood mare Sapphire. Ward, a 30 year old from Brewster, NY, has consistently represented the United States since 1994 when he was a member of the winning Nations Cup Team at the National Horse Show. Ward and Sapphire have been busy on prestigious Samsung Super League Tours over the last few years, earning valuable placings at Aachen, Barcelona, Hickstead and Rome for the United States Equestrian Team. In 2006, the pair put in a double clear round in the Samsung Super League competitions in Germany and France, leading the team to a first place finish in the Samsung Super League Series. Every time that Ward enters the ring, he tries to win, and his competitive nature is inspiring to every team of which he is a member.
Speaking of competitive nature, Margie Engle is perhaps the most competitive personality on the show jumping circuit. Engle made history by earning the AGA Rider of the Year award a record nine times, making her the winningest AGA rider of all time. Engle is a resident of Wellington, FL and will be riding a relatively new mount Quervo Gold. Quervo Gold, owned by the Wyndhurst Stables, Inc., is a 13 year old Belgian Warmblood gelding with a bright chestnut coat. Quervo Gold has to fill the big shoes of Engle’s popular Sydney Olympic mount, Hidden Creek’s Perin. Quervo Gold did just that, placing a strong first in the WEG Selection Trials. In 2003, Engle was a member of the Gold Medal Pan American Team in Santa Domingo, as well as an Individual Bronze Medalist. Along with producing winning results, Engle adds a light heartedness to the team on every tour.
The fourth and final member of the WEG Show Jumping Team is Laura Kraut of Oconomowoc, WI. Kraut will be riding the youngest horse on the team, a nine year old Dutch Warmblood mare Miss Independent, owned by the Miss Independent Group. Kraut has been to two Olympic Games. She was the alternate for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain and a member of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Team. Kraut has many Grand Prix wins aboard Miss Independent, including the WEF Challenge Cup Round III and the Cosequin Florida Open Grand Prix in 2005, as well as the Jacksonville World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix in 2006. Kraut has great team spirit, and she adds a sense of support and enthusiasm to the squad.
“We have a professional group of riders on good horses,” Morris said. “It will be a matter of who has the luck that day. I think that we have a very good chance of doing well in August.”
The FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany run August 20th to September 3rd 2006 with show jumping beginning on August 28th.
This special report is a preview provided by PhelpsSports.com. Look for the debut of this new equestrian news website during the World Equestrian Games in August. Visit http://www.PhelpsSports.com
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