After two days of intense competition at the Longines Masters of Paris CSI5*, the much-awaited Riders Masters Cup, presented by EEM, with the support of the EEF (European Equestrian Federation) and Longines, kicked off on December, 2, 2017 in Paris, France.
The creation of the Riders Masters Cup was announced at the 2016 Longines Masters of Paris, and the inaugural edition of the event demonstrated that big changes are afoot in the realm of equestrian sports. The event had the crowd on their feet for what was the first-ever battle between Europe and the United States, the world’s two key powers in show jumping.
“This first edition of the Riders Masters Cup showed that this wondrous sport – show jumping – can be simple, readable and thrilling to audiences, without giving up any of the elegance or excellence characteristic of them. Both the teams stepped up to the challenge in exceptional fashion, taking the audience right along with them and giving our sport the widespread support it deserves. I am proud to soon bring the Riders Masters Cup to New York, to share with audiences on the other side of the Atlantic the re-match of this very event which, I am certain, is in the process of revolutionizing show-jumping”, commented Christophe Ameeuw, CEO and Founder of EEM as the competition drew to a close.
As a curtain-raiser, the teams and duels were presented in a solemn yet inventive fashion on the podium, bringing together the Americans (in red) — led by Robert Ridland, with Devin Ryan (Cooper), Chloe Reid (Sally 643), Laura Kraut (Viper Vrombautshoeve Z), Reed Kessler (KS Stakki), and Lauren Hough (Waterford)— , and the Europeans (in blue) — headed by Philippe Guerdat, with Kevin Staut (Ayade de Septon*HDC), Maikel van der Vleuten (Dana Blue), Grégory Wathelet (MJT Nevados S), Jos Verlooy (Igor), and Lorenzo de Luca (Jeunesse van’t Paradijs).
The tension was palpable among the audience when the first pair out, Olympic champion Kévin Staut and Ayade de Septon* HDC, emerged onto the course for this founding moment in sporting history. It was a quick, clear round, setting the tone and piling on the pressure.
The US team responded authoritatively, urged on by a crowd on fire, and pitted Devin Ryan riding the magnificent Cooper. Losing its bridle, Cooper let the victory to Kevin Staut, giving the first point to Europe.
When the 5 face-offs in the first round came to an end, Team Europe had gained the upper hand, with 3 winning rides.
The second round was a Table C event, which only added to the pressure.
Travelling at full speed with Cooper, Devin Ryan offered this time the win of the first dual to US team pushed by a galvanized public, sixth men of the team Gregory Wathelet maintained the division. Reed Kessler used of all her qualities to win her face-off with Jos Verlooy getting back the US in course just before the last dual! Lauren Hough, last rider of the US team, did a really fast class although she made a fault, letting a full suspense to the competition before the last European rider to pass, the talented Lorenzo de Luca. de Luca stood out as the only one of the ten riders to have won both of his duels.
Victory went to Europe with a score of 9 to 6.
“This all-new event is so extraordinary because it makes speed the focus and the decisive factor; that’s unprecedented in an international competition,” confirmed Robert Ridland. Philippe Guerdat said that he was “very proud of the riders who succeeded in putting together a consistent European team”.
The two teams went together for one last time on the podium on which the Europeans received the trophee from Fernanda Ameeuw. The Americans promised to take their revenge during the Longines Masters of New York on Saturday, April 28, 2018.
The full results can. be viewed here.
All photos © Thomas Reiner Photography.