Jul 07, 2024

Defender U.S. Eventing Team Stamps Mark on 2024 SAP-Cup CCIO4*-S with Second Place Finish

By USEF - Edited Press Release
The Defender U.S. Eventing Team finished second in the CHIO Aachen CCIO4*-S. Shannon Brinkman Photography photos

Aachen, Germany—July 7—The Defender U.S. Eventing Team moved up nearly five places on the leaderboard in the SAP-Cup throughout the three phases to ultimately clinch a well-deserved second place finish. The team completed on a final combined score of 123.7, behind Great Britain, who secured first on a 112.8. Ireland finished in third with a final score on 138. This is the second year in a row the team has secured a second-place finish at CHIO Aachen in the CCIO4*-S.

"Overall, I’m really impressed with this team and how they handled the atmosphere, stepping up to the challenge of this event,” said Chef d’Equipe Bobby Costello. “There’s a lot to take away from the results here, particularly that we have several athletes who have been a part of our development program and to me, that was the cool thing. Leslie Law’s vision and commitment to this program is working and we have athletes all the way to the top is producing results.”

Of the track, Costello noted it rode much more challenging than it walked, but was still safe and influential, which is the sign of a masterful design from Rüdiger Schwarz, in his last design assignment at CHIO Aachen before retirement.

“It seemed significantly less intense than the previous two years I’ve been here, but we knew with it being Aachen, and the speed factor and everything coming up so quickly, it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk, but it was interesting that it caused as much trouble as it did. We knew not to take it for granted but we had a simple plan we tend to like to stick with, as clean and as fast as we can go, get all the jumps done first.”

The pathfinders ended up being the quickest pair of the day for the team, with James Alliston (San Ramon, California) and Karma (Escudo II x Travita), the only U.S. bred horse in the field, taking to the course first in the U.S. rider rotation. James and Karma, a 10-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Alliston Equestrian and Ric Plummer, and cared for by Sophie Hulme and Sophie Tice, were fast and efficient throughout the course, making many of the difficult combinations on the course look smooth and really showcasing the pair’s trusting partnership. They crossed through the timers with just 2.4 time penalties to finalize their outing on a score of 38.4, finishing ninth overall individually and as the highest-placed team combination.

“She’s an exciting horse, a good athlete, good jumper, a lot of energy. The dressage has taken a little bit of time, but it’s moving in the right direction as she learns the sport and learns the first phase,” said Alliston. “She’s a very exciting horse and I’m really excited with everything we’re taking away from this event, and I think the Maryland 5 Star (Elkton, Maryland) is an option for her this fall."

Liz Halliday (Lexington, Kentucky) rode Shanroe Cooley, one of the greener horses in her talented international string, who was attentive and bold for Halliday around the challenging course and marked their first appearance for the team with success. As the pair galloped into the main stadium, Halliday and the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Dallas x Shanroe Sapphire) owned by Ocala Horse Properties and cared for by Jordan Crabo, finished their ride to cheers from the growing crowd and stopped the timers at 7:09, adding 7.6 time penalties to finish on a strong three-phase score of 43.3.

As a mainstay in U.S. Eventing’s Development Program, Alyssa Phillips (Ft. Worth, Texas) and her 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding Oskar (Coriando x Nicole) showed the strength of their senior partnership, bringing forward a safe and steady clear round for the team to add another cross-country trip to the team score with just time penalties added. The pair finished on a final score of 42.2, adding 8.8-time penalties to their original dressage, capping a strong showing for them both.

Hallie Coon (Ocala, Florida) and Cute Girl were the last to head out on course for the team and starting in the final group of combinations to contest the track. Coon and Cute Girl (Coventry x Caligula), a 10-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Hallie & Helen Coon and cared for by Helen Elston, encountered some problems near the finish which resulted in a runout at the combination of 22AB in the main stadium. The pair finished with 66.8 penalties total, which served as the drop score for the team.

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