Two weeks ago to the day, Beezie Madden, Margie Engle, Laura Kraut and Jessica Springsteen made a pact following their Longines Nations Cup of the United States of America win at the Palm Beach Masters in Wellington. The four riders, and Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, agreed to maintain a united front in the celebratory battle of champagne, choosing to soak their second- and third-place competitors rather than each other.
On Saturday night at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, the less experienced team of Andy Kocher, Lucas Porter, Brian Moggre and Adrienne Sternlicht somehow missed that memo after they swept the CSIO4* $150,000 Nations Cup.
They may not have won the battle of champagne, but Team USA dominated in the ring and ended the night fault-free.
“It still amazes me that basically, the three of you [Kocher, Moggre and Porter]—this was your Nations Cup debut,” said Ridland. “Everybody was having their debut tonight until they came to the anchor rider, our veteran anchor rider [Sternlicht]. It was really exciting to be able to do that; it was fun, actually, the last two weeks with the veteran team. This team was chosen right down the ranking list of the applicants. To see them do that tonight was just amazing.”
Kocher and the 9-year-old Oldenburg gelding Squirt Gun were first in the ring for the USA. They acquired a single time fault in Round 1 and jumped clean in Round 2.
“He’s by far the best horse that I have at the moment,” said Kocher. “He has the most clear rounds, he’s fast. My other ones are all really developing. Getting there, but they’re a little further away. So he was my only choice.”
Next in the order, Porter and the 13-year-old Zangersheide stallion C Hunter jumped a clean Round 1 but finished on 4 faults in Round 2.
“I was really thankful to be a part of the team,” said Porter. “I really sort of aimed at this Nations Cup since the start of the season here in Florida. I thought my horse jumped two great rounds here tonight. He jumped a really amazing first round, and then I thought he jumped really well again in the second round. I was a bit unlucky with my fault, but I’m really happy with him. We’ve come a long way together. I look forward to what the future holds with him.”
Moggre and the 11-year-old Westphalian gelding MTM Vivre Le Reve were the USA’s penultimate combination, and the sole to jump double clear rounds.
“It’s quite a surreal feeling,” said Moggre. “I was super happy to be a part of the team over at the Palm Beach Masters,” where he was the reserve rider. “That was great to be included and to see what goes into it. To be on the team here and to jump really meant a lot. Everybody wants to jump clear their first time on the team, so for my horse to make that happen for me, I couldn’t be more thankful.”
Anchor rider Sternlicht rode the 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare Just A Gamble. They jumped clean in Round 1 and didn’t have to jump Round 2 due to the USA’s indisputable lead on the scorecard.
“This is my actually third Nations Cup in a row on this team,” said Sternlicht. “I’m very thankful for my teammates, who made it very easy for me. I think we’re a young team but a lot of strong riders who have had consistencies leading up to this event. I think that was showcased in their awesome rides.”
Ireland (Darragh Kenny, Billy Twomey, David Blake and Paul O’Shea) finished second on 5 faults. Australia (Amy Graham, Hillary Scott, Scott Keach and Rowan Willis) took third place with 17 faults.
Photo: Tori Repole