If there was ever a time to shine on the world stage, it’s immediately before the Olympic team is announced.
That’s precisely what the Americans did in Europe last week. Tokyo team hopefuls won not one but two 5* Grand Prix in Europe over the weekend—and collected a slew of top ten finishes as well.
In Grimald, France, on the French Riviera, Kent Farrington (USA) and the irrepressible Gazelle claimed the 5* Grand Prix trophy in their Hubside Grimald debut. Of the seven jump off double clears, Farrington came off best in front of France’s Julie Epaillard riding Usual Suspect d’Auge and Nicholas Delmotte on Ilex VP taking second act this spots.
“I went last in the jump-off and Julien Epaillard was in the lead. He is renowned for going really fast, even in the States. So I had to give it my all! I really focused on Gazelle’s natural speed, and I was extremely careful,” said the world #5.
Teammate Beezie Madden (USA) was clean over the fences but had two times penalties with her short-listed mount, Garant, to take sixth. It was their sixth consecutive clear round in France. Madden has yet to press the 10-year-old KWPN gelding for speed on their European tour.
A time fault cost last week’s 4* Grand Prix winner Jessica Springsteen (USA) a place in the 12 horse jump off with her Tokyo short-listed mount RMF Zecilie.
Meanwhile at the second U.S. team observation event in Poland at Sopot, the Nations Cup did not go the way of the USA (they finished seventh). The same could not be said for the Longings Grand Prix. Thirteen combinations jumped clear in the first round, including all three American starters.
Adrienne Sternlicht elected to withdraw Cristalline from the jump off after the mare sustained an unspecified injury. “Stella” was Sternlicht’s team gold medal winning partner at the 2018 World Equestrian Games and is one of three mounts named to the short list with the rider.
“For the last several years, Stella has been my complete orientation, my motivation, through the highs and lows of bringing her back, everything in my life has been guided by the dream of the Olympics, another championship with her. After jumping a clear first round in the Grand Prix, she sustained an injury,” wrote Sternlicht on Facebook.
That just left young guns Lucy Deslauriers (USA) with Hester and Brian Moggre (USA) with Balou du Reventon to uphold American honor. With just one tenth of a second between them, 19-year-old Moggre came out as the winner of the €165’000 purse, relegating Deslauriers to second. Both riders are short-listed for Tokyo with their mounts.
Skip to the 2:37 mark for his winning round.
All of which is to say, American chef d’equipe Robert Ridland and the Olympic selection committee are spoiled for choices to send to Tokyo. But with 12 riders inside the world top 100 right now, you’d expect as much.