Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 5, 2021 – Show jumping’s top young talents descended upon the International Arena at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) showgrounds Friday afternoon for the $25,000 FEI Hermès Under 25 Team Event. As the premier U25 class of the 2021 season, 59 horse-and-rider combinations made up the 15 teams who vied for a chance at the lion’s share of the purse. After two rounds over the technical 1.45m track, it was Team Baywatch led by Chef d’Equipe McLain Ward and comprised of Emily Moffitt (GBR), Jessica Mendoza (GBR), Ioli Mytilineou (GRE), and Grace Debney (USA) who pulled their talents to emerge victorious over the rest of the pack.
Following the Nations Cup format, three to four riders comprised each of the 15 teams competing. With the luxury of utilizing a drop score in the first round, the quartets exercised leverage over the teams of three with the option of a drop score. Moffitt pioneered the track for the winning team aboard Poden Farms’ Light Blue 3. The duo came out unscathed with no faults on the board. Mendoza and her own 9-year-old gelding, I-cap CL Z and Mytilineou and the 9-year-old Selle Francais gelding Caiam D’ivraie, owned by Elia Construction SA, both went clear in the first round leaving the youngest and newest U25 rider some wiggle room as a drop score if necessary. Debney, who competed in her first-ever U25 on Friday afternoon, rode Temple Equestrian LLC’s 11-year-old Selle Francais mare, Boheme De La Roque to a first-round finish on only 4 faults.
Lucy Deslauriers (USA) and Luja LLC’s 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding Billy De Beaufour, Carlos Hank Guerreiro (MEX) and the 15-year-old AES mare H5 Market Irminka, owned by H5 Stables, Zoe Conter (USA) and Dolitaire Chavannaise, Stephex Stables’ 12-year-old Belgian Sport Horse mare, and Eugenio Garza Perez (MEX) and El Milagro’s 10-year-old Oldenburg also advanced to the second round with a perfect score after dropping Conter’s 4-fault round. It was a 50-50 toss-up heading into the second round, but with the other four teams just mere points behind it was still anybody’s title to claim.
Appearing in reverse order, each of the six teams navigated the same track that featured tight triple combinations and tricky, skinny verticals, and were given an opportunity to strategize and correct any mistakes from their first ride out. After several teams left the ring with rails, it came down to Baywatch and The Chief’s for first and second place. McLain Ward’s Team Baywatch was once again able to produce three fault-free efforts, dropping the 4-fault round from Mytilineou, to finish with no faults to their name. Moffitt turned in a double clear performance as did Mendoza who in her final year of eligibility for the series. Notably, the U25 newcomer, Debney, rode a true come-back clear, helping the all-female team to secure the winning honors. While The Chiefs were about to drop the 12-fault score produced by Guerreiro, a 4-fault effort by Deslauriers and a time fault Perez meant that even with Conter’s clear round the team would finish on 5 faults for the second-place prize.
It was a tie for third place between Connect 4, featuring Flo Norris (GBR), Alessandra Volpi (USA), Tanimara Macari (USA), and Maya Nayyar (USA), Team Oakland which included Kirsten Ostling (USA), Gigi Moynihan (USA), Maggie Kehring (USA), and Riley Newsome (USA), and Team HF with Delaney Hamill (USA), Ty Simpson (USA), Daniel Cyphert (USA), and Stella Stinett(USA), who all finished the day with 12 faults over two rounds of competition.
U25 competition will continue throughout the remaining eight weeks of WEF. To continue an exciting week of competition, the $37,000 FEI CSI 4* CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic and the highly anticipated Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments will take place on Saturday, February 6.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
It’s really great to do this team event – I’ve done it every year and this is my last year. This year I used a green horse, this is his third 1.45m, so I thought it would be a really nice experience for him to get in the ring in the Nation’s Cup format. It was really great and it was nice to be part of such a good team.
It means so much to be on a team like this first of all. These are three amazing riders and this is my first time doing the U25. It’s really cool to ride in the team format and get the feel for that. My horse, Boheme De La Roque is the quietest horse in the barn, but when she gets to the show ring she is all business and just wants to jump clear just as much as I do.
To me, I think it is a great experience being on this team. I am from Greece so I actually haven’t done very many team events, and it’s also my first time in Florida! I’m liking it so far, but with a win under my belt, I am ready to go home now.
Like Jess, I have a super green horse. This is his third 1.45m ever and I was so proud of him – he really stepped up to the plate. It was so fun! I am a sucker for a team event – it is such a fun experience and I am lucky to be a part of such a great team, especially because it is all girls! This is just one of my favorites and I try to do it every year.