PARIS, France--For the first time this year, the Riding Masters Cup competition between a team for Europe and a team from America was open to riders from the whole American continent.
It has been won every time since its inception by the Europeans.
This year, the Americas managed a superb first round.
True showjumping legends made up the American team for the first time, and still, Europe yet again won the Riders Masters Cup, for the fifth time in a row.
On paper, the Americas had serious chances to win the fifth Riders Masters Cup, the flagship competition of the Masters of Paris.
Chef d'equie Robert Ridland's troops really seemed in a position to turn the tables on Europe and at last clinch the class that has been eluding them since the beginning.
BUT. LED by Swedish chef d'équipe Henrik Ankarcrona, Europe mercilessly won on a final score of 125 for the Old Continent to 80 for the New World.
For the very first time, Ridland's team stood up to their opponents in the first round.
The chef d'équipe could pick Canadians and Brazilians as well as U.S. riders, and Ridland's team included three Olympic champions with the USA's Laura Kraut, Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa and Canada's Eric Lamaze.
Thanks to Kraut and Pessoa as well as Brazil's Marlon Modolo Zanotelli, the Americas won three of their five duels in the first round.
On Europe's side, Olympic champions Kevin Staut of France and Henrik von Eckermann of Sweden both had four penalties.
At that point, with a provisional score of 40 to Europe's 35, Ridland's five had reasons to hope for a win.
In the second round, though, Europe regained control.
Right from the beginning of the second round, Europe recovered some strength and took advantage of a weakness of the Americans who had all changed rides.
Clear in the first round, Zanotelli was now eliminated for two refusals and the young Canadian Kara Chad was equally unfortunate.
Only the legend that is Rodrigo Pessoa managed to win his duel against Henrik von Eckermann.
Spearheaded by a reigning European champion and reserve World Champion Martin Fuchs on top form, Europe eventually won four of the five duels for a fifth victory in as many editions.
First to go in both classes and double clear, Fuchs commented, in front of packed stands: "I'm feeling very well at the Masters of Paris. I won the Grand Prix here five years ago and I hadn't been back since".