U.S. jumping team, with Colts Neck’s Springsteen, wins silver medal in Olympics final

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By U.S. Equestrian Communications Department

TOKYO, JAPAN – The U.S. Jumping Team earned the silver medal after an intense jump-off battle with Sweden in the Jumping Team Final to conclude equestrian competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Aug. 7.

The team of Laura Kraut and Baloutinue, Jessica Springsteen and Don Juan van de Donkhoeve, and McLain Ward and Contagious put the pressure on the Swedish team, showcasing the best of the sport under the lights in Tokyo. The Swedish topped the podium, with the Belgian team finishing with the bronze.

Laura Kraut (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) and Baloutinue, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by St. Bride’s Farm, were the first combination to test the second-round track built by Santiago Varela (ESP) for the final night of team competition and the pair delivered with a clear round to start the team off strong. The scores were wiped clean from the previous day’s qualifier, making each round critical for the overall team standings.

Following Kraut’s finish, Springsteen (Colts Neck, N.J.) picked up the baton and guided Don Juan van de Donkhoeve, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion owned by Stone Hill Farm, Colts Neck, to a fast four fault round, keeping the team within reach of the podium. In the pair’s championship debut, they excelled under the pressure.

“This course was super technical. The first time I walked it I made a plan and that was what I stuck with in the ring,” said Springsteen, who is the daughter of Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa.

“There were a lot of half strides where you had the option to choose whether you wanted to do one less or one more and my horse has a big step and I was able to do most of the leave-outs which really helped me with the time allowed,” explained Springsteen about her first round.

As the pair’s anchor combination, Ward (Brewster, N.Y.) and Contagious, a 12-year-old Deutches Sportpferd owned by Beechwood Stables, LLC, found themselves needing to keep the team within striking range of the Swedish, and delivered with a solid round, as Contagious barely tapped a rail to add four to their score.

Ultimately the team’s total of eight tied them with the Swedish team, forcing a jump-off to determine the gold and silver medals.

The order for the jump-off remained the same as the second round order, with Kraut and Baloutinue entering the ring first to set the pace. The duo finished with a quick clear round and were followed by Henrick von Eckermann and King Edward, who matched their pace and kept the score even.

Springsteen was tasked with keeping the team on zero in the jump-off and delivered with Don Juan van de Donkhoeve, crossing through the timers with another fast clear for the United States.

With the draw order, Ward would need to pull out all the stops to try to keep the gold medal out of Sweden’s grasp. He pushed Contagious and delivered a brilliantly fast, clear effort for the United States, as the rest of the team waited to see what Peder Fredericson and All In would deliver.

Ultimately, the gold medal was earned by the Swedish team, which was well-deserved after their tremendous performance during the past week, with the U.S. team securing its second consecutive team silver medal at an Olympic Games.

“Sweden has been lights out, which was expected, but they have really been on a different level. We would have to have had an incredible day to beat them and I think we pushed them right to the limit and in competition, when you push them to that limit and they still win, you have got to be proud with the fight and the medal,” said Ward.

Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland was thrilled with the way the team’s strategy played to their preparation and noted that they were confident the team competition would most likely go to three rounds and made a point to be sure the horses were fresh and ready for the task at hand.

“Today was supposed to be the day we really channeled everything, and we tried to leave as much gas in the tank as we could through the qualifying round to get there, and we have all been saying the team was going to be three rounds and we were prepared for that. It just became magical. It was sweet revenge for Sweden and it’s a great rivalry. They were amazing and we pushed them to the limit and that’s what has made us proud,” Ridland said.