(L to R) Team USA’s Margie Goldstein-Engle, Laura Kraut, Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, Beezie Madden, and Jessica Springsteen. (FEI/Shannon Brinkman)

The 2020 series got off to a galloping start with a home victory for Team USA in the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of United States of America at Deeridge Farm in Wellington, Florida (USA). But despite fielding a crack four-member side, the hosts were pushed to a third-round jump-off by a relatively rookie British team that consisted of just three riders.

And making competition all the more exceptional was the fact that, in this sport in which men outnumber women by a considerable margin at top level, it came down to a clash between two all-female teams, with America’s Beezie Madden pipping Britain’s Alexandra Thornton in the third-round tie-breaker.

“The British girls were excellent!” said double Olympic gold medallist Madden who piled on the pressure with a brilliant first-to go run with Darry Lou in the jump-off.

There were eight teams in action but only USA, Mexico, and Canada were chasing down qualifying points in the North and Central America and Caribbean League series from which two of those three countries will qualify for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2020 Final in Barcelona, Spain next October. The American winners claimed the maximum 100 points while Mexico collected 80 when lining up third and Canada picked up 60 points when finishing fourth in a competition filled with plenty of excitement.

The open water was the source of the greatest drama, Israel’s Ashlee Bond having to call it a day with Donatello in the second round when the nine-year-old gelding refused to have anything to do with it after giving himself a fright first time out. And Brazilian pathfinder, Cassio Rivetti, took a real soaking there when his 13-year-old mare, Bacara d’Archonfosse, dumped him in it at their second attempt.