Most international showjumpers aspire to represent their county at a Nations Cup event, and a US competition is preparing to give young riders a taste of the action.
The FEI Nations Cup has been a featured event at Florida’s Winter Equestrian Festival since it was first added to the competition line-up in Wellington back in 2002. Now, with sponsorship from Hollow Creek Farm, competitors in the Children’s, Junior and Young Riders divisions can look forward to competing in their own marquee Nations Cup events.
The overwhelming popularity of team competition is not just for senior riders anymore; now young up and coming riders of all ages can participate and get a taste of what possibly awaits them as their careers progress. On Saturday, March 2, three separate Nations Cup events will be held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida.
The first round of the Nations Cup competition will be held in the International Arena during the day, with the second round held under the lights at night in front of what is sure to be an enthusiastic crowd cheering on their favourite countries. The Children’s Nations Cup for riders aged 12 to 14 will be held first, followed by the Junior Nations Cup for riders aged 14 to 18. The Young Riders’ Nations Cup will be Saturday’s third and final team competition, featuring competitors aged 16 to 21.
Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, the United States, and Venezuela will all field teams for the Nations Cup team competition while Chile, Peru, and Sweden will be represented by individual competitors.
Hollow Creek Farm’s interest in encouraging young athletes to experience riding in a team format stems from its star pupil, Emanuel Andrade. At 15 years of age, Andrade swept the junior divisions at last year’s FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival. Competing against riders who were several years older than him, Andrade claimed 23 victories and took home no fewer than 18 Championship and Reserve Championship titles.
An active competitor in his native Venezuela where he balances school work with riding, Andrade had the opportunity to compete in a team event for young riders in Ecuador in 2011. The same year, Andrade was a member of the winning Pro-Am team in the FTI Consulting Great Charity Challenge at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival, riding alongside Venezuelan Olympian Pablo Barrios and Luis Fernando Larrazabal. Eager to continue exposing Andrade and his talented peers from around the globe to the challenges of team competition, Hollow Creek Farm eagerly supported the new Nations Cup initiative.
Just as in the $75,000 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup presented by G&C Farm, which will be held on Friday night, March 1, teams of four riders each with the best three scores to count will represent their countries in the Nations Cup events for Children, Juniors, and Young Riders.
“The idea is to begin to set the groundwork for young riders to compete together as a team,” said Hollow Creek Farm trainer Angel Karolyi, himself a member of the Venezuelan team at last year’s Nations Cup event in Wellington. “It gives them the opportunity to experience the team format before they reach the top levels of international competition.”
Karolyi operates Hollow Creek Farm of Aiken, SC, with business partner Andrea King. Only 26 years old, Karolyi understands both the benefits and the challenges of competing as a team member, and the extra pressure it brings. It is a learned lesson he’s applied as a member of Venezuela’s Gold Medal Team at the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games in Puerto Rico, as well as at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“It is very important to expose these young riders to the responsibility of not only performing well for yourself, but for others who are relying on you,” Karolyi said.
“It is really exciting for us to be a part of this wonderful new program, which is so innovative and unique.”