t's been 37 years since Mexico sent a team to contest the historic Aga Khan trophy in Dublin. This year, they not only sent a team - they won the Whole. Damn. Thing.
As if it were the perfect Cinderella story, Team Mexico headed into the day as the underdogs, but made a grand entrance back to Dublin to claim the FEI Nations Cup, the last leg of the Europe Division 1 series.
Although not an easy win by any means, each round kept the crowd on the edges of their seats as Eugenio Garza Perez, Federico Fernandez, Patricio Pasquel, and Enrique Gonzalez got the job done finishing four faults ahead of three-way tied France, Italy, and hometown favorites, Ireland.
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The pure joy and jubilation was palpable during the press conference as Team Mexico was smiling from ear to ear after such a historic win.
“It’s a dream come true. Since we got the invitation we have not stopped dreaming about this moment,” said Federico who rode Landpeter do Feroleto to two four-fault scores. “We worked hard to be here and we enjoyed every second!"
For Federico, the win was especially sweet as both horse and rider were given a second chance at life after surviving two major accidents. In 1987, Federico was a survivor of a deadly plane crash, and his mount “Peter,” was involved in a lorry accident where he obtained serious injuries. However, as fate would have it, the pair came together to reign supreme against some of show jumping’s most dominant countries.
Heading into the Nations Cup competition as not only hometown favorite but the ones to beat, the European Champions, Team Ireland, lost their luck after losing their zero-fault lead heading into Round 2 with an elimination from Mark McAuley, and three four-fault rounds.
“The Mexicans were really incredible, they came back in the second round with real determination and when you’re in contention in a Nations Cup, that’s how you have to ride,” said Irish Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa.
Sombreros off to Team Mexico after a well deserved win!
Feature photo by FEI/Jon Stroud.