Solid Performance by Aussies in Nations Cup
Above (left to right): David Cameron, Lauren Balcomb, Todd Hinde (Chef d’Equipe), Katie Laurie and James Arkins. Photo credit: Australian Equestrian Team – Kirsty Pasto
Four Australian combinations took to the course this morning (Australia time) at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Centre, in Wellington, Florida as part of the first FEI Nations Cup event of 2022. The team consisted of two combinations based in North America: Katie Laurie and Django II and Lauren Balcomb and Verdini D’Houtveld Z, as well as two Australian based combinations currently in the USA competing in the 3-month long Winter Equestrian Festival, namely David Cameron and Oaks Come by Chance and James Arkins and Eurostar 1.
Eleven countries were entered into the competition, with each team comprising four combinations.
Seventh out on course and first for the Australians were James Arkins and Eurostar 1, making their Nations Cup debut. They had a great round, just clipping a single rail to finish on four faults, in a time of 66.72 seconds, which was better than any of the previous combinations had done. By the time each country had sent their first combination out, there had been three clear rounds and just one faster four fault combination than Arkins and Eurostar 1.
The next Australian combination, David Cameron and Oaks Come by Chance, came out 18th in the start order, which ironically, was the same number of faults they incurred. Three rails down, a splash in the water and a time of 71.22 seconds on a course with an allowed time of 70 seconds, was a disappointing round, but with the team having the luxury of a drop score, there was no need for panic, however, it did place some pressure on the two combinations to come.
Out in 29th position were Lauren Balcomb and Verdini D’Houtveld Z. They had a fantastic clear round to keep Australia in the hunt in a time of 67.18 seconds. They were an impressive sight as they soared over many of the fences, at times making the task look easy.
Tokyo Olympic representative Katie Laurie and Django II were our last pair, out in 40th spot. If they were feeling any pressure, it certainly did not show. Like Balcomb and Verdini D’Houtveld Z, before them, they too had a fantastic clear round, finishing in 68.58 seconds.
With the benefit of being able to discard David Cameron’s score, our total score was 4 (Arkins 4, Balcomb 0 and Laurie 0) placing Australia in equal third place and clinching a spot in the second round. The positions after Round 1 were as follows.
After a break of about an hour, the second round commenced, with the top eight nations coming back to battle for the final placings.
Following in the order from the first round, the first Australian combination out were James Arkins and Eurostar 1. During the round, they had a refusal and took a couple of rails to finish in a time of 76.11. This incurred 7 time faults and when added to the 12 jumping faults, gave them a total of 19. Not a great start, but not yet a disaster.
The next Australian combination David Cameron and Oaks Come by Chance took three rails and finished in a time of 67.74 seconds. While their second round was better than their first, it served to relegate Arkins’ 19 to the drop score for the time being. It also took Australia to a best possible score of 16, but to stay there, it would take double clears from both of the combinations to come.
Lauren Balcomb and Verdini D’Houtveld Z were the next Australians on course and their faultless display kept Australia’s hopes up. Clear in 68.72 seconds, when added to their first round clear, was a tremendous performance, keeping us on a best possible score of 16, however, with countries like Canada and Ireland having had near faultless performances to date in the competition, an Australian podium finish was looking like a long shot.
The last Australian pair on course were Katie Laurie and Django II, our most experienced rider on the team. Unfortunately, they were not able to replicate their first round clear, taking three rails and incurring a single time penalty to end on 13 in a time of 70.87 seconds. This gave Australia a second round total of 25 (Balcomb 0, Cameron 12 and Laurie 13) and when the first round total of 4 was added, we ended up on a total of 29 faults. This placed us in 6th place, which was still a solid performance.
The win went to Ireland, who were magnificent, with the three combinations who counted towards their total, taking just a single rail on the night. Canada and the United States were tied on faults for second, however, second place went to Canada based on times. The second round in particular was a challenging one for many of the combinations and the Aussie’s performance is to be commended. The stars of the class for Australia, with a great double clear performance, were Lauren Balcomb and Verdini D’Houtveld Z.
Final placings of the top eight nations are listed below:
Second place, based on times.