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The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team Finishes Fourth in FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ Aachen CDIO5*

The U.S. earned a strong result against a competitive field of teams at the 2024 CHIO Aachen World Equestrian Festival.

The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team finished fourth in the FEI Dressage Nations Cup Aachen CDIO5*, completing on a final team total of 214.283. The host country Germany finished first on a combined score of 228.173. The Netherlands took second with a score of 215.674 and Denmark was third with a score of 214.544. Aachen served as a final competition for several combinations before the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Insights From Chef d’Equipe Christine Traurig

“Overall, I’m pleased with our performances today. Anna Marek delivered exactly what I expected—[she] gave us a solid test produced by such good riding and setting the tone for our team. Second in the order, we had Anna Buffini and Fiontini. Anna showed us her talent as she guided her powerful mare through the test with such feel and focus,” said Chef d’Equipe Christine Traurig

“Endel Ots did a super job with Bohemian—I continue to be impressed. They are riding clean tests and Endel has formed a remarkable relationship with Bo in such a short time,” continued Traurig. “Marcus Orlob and Jane continue to draw the attention of riders, trainers and judges! They are also a combination which has been together for less than six months and only continue to improve with every test together. What makes us all especially proud is that Jane was ‘made in the USA’ and we love that. I am so proud of our riders today and looking forward to the rest of the competition together.” 

Marcus Orlob and Jane were the top-placed U.S. pair in Aachen’s FEI Dressage Nations Cup. | Shannon Brinkman Photography

Marek and Buffini Lead the Way

The U.S. drew fifth of eight teams in the Nations Cup. Anna Marek (Williston, Fla.) and Fire Fly were selected by Chef d’Equipe Traurig to lead off the team. Marek and Fire Fly won team gold and individual bronze medalists at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santigo, Chile. Fire Fly is a 2010 KWPN (Briar Junior x Arieka) gelding owned by Janet Simile and cared for by Katherine Esterline. In Aachen, Marek and Fire Fly produced a solid start to the day, earning a 69.522% from the judging panel. The pair were workmanlike but a mistake in their one-tempis dropped their trending score just below the 70% mark.

In their third European competition as a combination, Anna Buffini (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) rode Fiontini, her own 2010 Danish Warmblood (Fassbinder x Rapitala) mare cared for by Michael Hernandez. They had a very strong trot tour, which received positive marks from the judging panel. A miscommunication in their one-tempis impacted their overall scores in the canter tour. However, Fiontini’s piaffe and passage down the centerline was a highlight ahead of their final salute.

Ots Went Third in the Rotation

As the day continued, the atmosphere in Deutsche Bank Stadium grew. By the time Endel Ots (Wellington, Fla.) and Zen Elite’s Bohemian entered the stadium, it was full of spectators. Zen Elite’s Bohemian is a 2010 Westphalian (Bordeaux x Sunshine) gelding owned by Zen Elite Equestrian Center and cared for by Caroline Hoerdum. Ots and his mount were accurate and precise in their trot and canter work, producing a mistake-free test. The duo earned a 71.435% with top marks for their piaffe and passage work.

“I have never ridden in an atmosphere like that. It was just very cool and fun. I wanted to do a nice, clean, consistent, solid ride, and I felt great. Normally, I’m quite shaky and nervous when I come out, [but I] was confident and good in there,” said Ots. “Each test I learn something new with him and, since we’ve only been together for six months, I feel like there is so much positive but also so much to continue to work on together. Riding in front of a crowd like that on the Fourth of July and representing your country—really is just an unmatched feeling.”

Orlob Closes out the Nations Cup

Marcus Orlob (Wellington, Fla.) and Jane, who will be heading to their first Olympic Games together in just a few weeks, took on the anchor role for the team. They aimed to produce a strong score for the team to keep them in the hunt for the podium. Orlob and the 2014 Dutch Warmblood (Desperado x Zandra) mare owned and cared for by Alice Tarjan earned a 73.326%. At just nine, Jane is a talent for the future. Orlob showed Jane’s natural ability and athleticism throughout their test. The pair impressed, earning marks of 8.0 and 8.5 in their piaffe and passage work. At times, their score trended above the 76% mark.

“Once I turned on the first extended trot, she took a breath, and while she was still a little tense and looky, she wanted me to drive, so I felt like I could really ride and was in a good place,” said Orlob. “I think this horse, with a new experience, with all this crowd and stadium, she’s learning and she’s smart and she allows me to push her each show a little more, which I love. I feel like I’m starting to be able to show the brilliance she really has. I was just happy with her because I finished on a good note today and I think we’re going to be able to trust each other more after this.” 

Eyes on Paris

Each of the combinations on the team in Aachen were on the U.S. Dressage Team Short List for 2024 Paris Olympics. Ultimately, Orlob and Jane were selected for the U.S. Olympic Dressage Team, alongside Adrienne Lyle and Helix and Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper. Traveling reserve combination Ots and Zen Elite’s Bohemian will also join the team in Paris. With the electric atmosphere and large crowds, Aachen served as an excellent precursor for the combinations heading to the Olympics.

The team in Aachen will return on Saturday, July 6, to contest the FEI Grand Prix Special CDIO5*. The FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO5* will take place on Sunday, July 7, to conclude the Nations Cup classes.

Nations Cup Results

Event Schedule | Website | Start Lists & Results

Thanks to Cosequin for our coverage of the 2024 Paris Olympics, including rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more.

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