By U.S. Equestrian Communications Department
Enschede, The Netherlands – The Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team showcased strong talent in all three phases at the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ The Netherlands CCIO4*-L at the Military Boekelo Enschede in Enschede, Netherlands to take second place in a competitive field to close out team competition for the 2021 competition season. The team of Jennie Brannigan, Sydney Elliott, Matt Flynn, and Tamie Smith finished on a total score of 102.7 to earn silver, while Great Britain took gold on a final team score of 90.4. Germany took the bronze on a 127.7 after three phases.
“We are thrilled with the result of back-to-back silver medals at Aachen and Boekelo. Once again, all our riders were chasing the seconds to get the optimum time on cross country, which is necessary if we are wanting to win medals in the future,” said Chef d’Equipe Erik Duvander. “It was also the second result at a Nations Cup this year with team unity and positive synergy to produce a strong result. Success is one thing, but repetitive success is an indicator of where the program is tracking. I don’t feel far off from us winning a Nations Cup leg soon.”
Smith (Murrieta, Calif.) and Danito, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Ruth Bley, started the week off strong for the team, earning a 24.7 to slot them inside of the top three individually on the leaderboard following the dressage phase. Elliott (Bossier, La.) and QC Diamantaire, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Carol Stephens, are competing for the second time in Europe this fall for the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team and received a 26.7 from the judging panel to place them just outside of the top ten after the first day of competition. Brannigan (West Grove, Pa.) and FE Lifestyle, an 11-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Nina & Tim Gardner, produced a lovely test for a 32.1 to place them just ahead of teammates Matt Flynn (Ocala, Fla.) and Wizzerd, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding owned by A. Patrick Flynn, Kathleen Flynn, and Merry Go Round Farm, who received a 32.2.
The team fought to maintain their position on the leaderboard after an influential cross-country day held on a crisp and foggy fall Dutch morning. Elliott and QC Diamantaire made good on their goal to hit the optimum time and crossed through the finish with no faults added to their dressage score, keeping them on a 26.7. Smith and Danito brought home another impressive round for the team, adding just eight-tenths of a second in time to their score for a 25.5. Brannigan and FE Lifestyle were the team’s second combination to nearly make it under the optimum time, adding just four-tenths of a second to their dressage score to move into the final day on a 32.5. Flynn and Wizzerd unfortunately parted ways on the course and were eliminated as the team moved forward to the final day of competition on a team total of 84.7.
The horses looked fit and ready for the final phase of competition after the second inspection on Sunday morning, which saw Elliott and QC Diamanatire finish in fifth overall after dropping a single rail during their stadium round for a final score of 30.7. Smith and Danito added 9.2 penalties to their score, finishing on a 34.7 and tenth place overall, while Brannigan and FE Lifestyle added just a rail and eight-tenths of a second in time to complete the weekend on a 37.3 for fifteenth place. The team finished on a final total score of 102.7 to earn their second podium finish of their team fall tour.
“I had quite high expectations for us coming into this weekend considering our personal results at Aachen were disappointing, so I wanted to redeem ourselves for the team in the dressage, and quite frankly in Aachen I was also disappointed with the time on cross-country and wanted to clean that up so that we could be as competitive as possible for the team,” said Elliott about her weekend with QC Diamantaire. “We had one rail in stadium, but his mind was just so solid all week and I was really proud of him to come out and perform the way he did. I was really just thrilled, and the team atmosphere was incredible.”
Elliott added that the team’s overall energy and camaraderie played a huge factor in their performance and the learnings she will take away from her first senior team tour with the program will be hugely beneficial for the future. Elliott and Smith were both a part of the silver-medal winning team at Aachen CCIO4*-S just a few weeks prior to Boekelo, and Elliott noted that their podium finish in Germany motivated them even more to deliver once again.
“I felt going in that we need to be there on the podium,” she explained. “I don’t think it’s a surprise, but at least my thoughts going into this week were that we deserve to be there, and we ride as well as anyone else, and there’s no reason for us to not be on the podium. That mentality really pushed us throughout the week. I expected us to be there, and I know things can happen that are unexpected or unplanned, but to me, there’s no reason for us to not be a top-three team at the end of a weekend like this, so it’s really great to see the progress and hopefully the energy and excitement we fostered with each other over the past few weeks will carry on into next year too.”