USA Scores Home Team Win in Under-25 FEI Nations Cup on Opening Day of AGDF 7
The FEI Nations Cup for Under 25 riders, presented by Diamante Farms, was the feature competition on Thursday during opening day of week 7 at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) in Wellington, FL. The under-25 division was a clean sweep for team “stars and stripes” who pocketed the gold with a point total of 139.736. The home nation also secured the silver medal with a finishing score of 135.500. Rivals to the north, Canada landed in the bronze position with a final tally of 133.118.
Benjamin Ebeling (USA) boasted the only score to break 70% in the CDIOU25 Intermediate II, presented by Diamante Farms, which left him both with the team gold and individual first place aboard Ann Romney’s 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding Status Royal OLD (Statesman OLD x Rubin Royal OLD). Ebeling’s performance was a repeat of his victory during the same event last year in which he and the mount scored only a slight fraction below their most recent test on a percentage of 70.647%.
In an impressive performance during her debut as a team rider for the United States, Callie O’Connell clinched the class’s overall second-place position by earning 69.089% for her performance aboard the Ruling Cortes LLC Owned 14-year-old KWPN gelding Eaton H (Wynton x San Remo).
“This has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl to be on a team, and a year ago I never would’ve thought I would be in this situation,” expressed O’Connell, 24. “I partnered with this horse at the end of March last year and we went straight into the under-25 division because it is the last year that I’m eligible. My main goal coming to Florida this year was to make the team.”
O’Connell’s partner, Ebeling, 23, may be more versed in being on a team, but he admitted that the event in Wellington is a unique experience no matter what the level.
“I have competed on an under-25 team several times now, and I have competed abroad, but this experience is always so much fun,” he stated. “It’s a fantastic way to get experience riding on a team at the Grand Prix level. It’s a good time, a great team environment, and just overall it is fun to compete for team USA.”
Regarding the day’s win, Ebeling credits much of his test’s success on the execution of the first three movements.
“One of my mentors, Robert Dover, always says that the first three movements are your ‘business card’ and you need to nail those specifically,” Ebeling explained. “My horse’s extensions are always pretty good, but today I was really focused on the trot half pass.”
O’Connell was equally as pleased with the ride executed by her and her mount in their blossoming partnership. “I only just competed in my first CDI two events ago, so there have been a lot of firsts for me recently,” she detailed. “This was our best test so far. His rideability overall through the whole test was unbelievable. He can sometimes be a little ahead of me and today he was just ready and waiting. My coach told me just to ‘ride every moment’ so I patted my horse, told him I believed in him, and did just that.
Both Ebeling and O’Connell train with Germany’s FEI World Championship team bronze medalist Christoph Koschel.