Photo FEI/Erin Gilmore

USA’s Kristen Vanderveen has claimed her first Longines FEI World Cup victory at the last World Cup qualifier of the season in Ocala, Florida.

‘Very surreal’

Kristen’s win has secured her place in the final in Paris on 10-15 April – which will be the first time she has competed in Europe. The 28-year-old finishes the season in sixth place on the North American Eastern Sub League.

“It’s really very surreal for me right now,” said Kristen. “I’ve always wanted to go to the World Cup Finals, and this was a little bit of a last minute decision to come here and see if I could do something special today and get in.”

‘Super fast’

There were just three clears in the first round over the course built by British course designer Kelvin Bywater. Kristen was first to go in the jump-off, and she set unbeatable time of 45.93sec, galloping Faustinode Tilli flat out to the final oxer.

“There were only three of us, so I figured I’d play it out as fast as we could and see what happened,” said Kristen. “He fired for me, and he shined for me in the jump-off. He’s a super fast horse.”

Paris final

Fellow American Brianne Goutal rode a steady clear to come second with Viva Colombia (52.99sec). Switzerland’s Beat Mändli and Galan S made a valiant run at the winner, but had two rails down in the process.

Eight US riders have qualified from the east coast sub league, including defending World Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward. Other riders to make the cut include Ireland’s Connor Swail, Daniel Coyle and Shane Sweetnam.