Barcelona, Spain – The NetJets U.S. Jumping Team accomplished the first goal set for their week of jumping in Barcelona, punching their ticket to Sunday’s final round of the 2023 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final. The top eight teams from today’s first round move on to contest the highly coveted final on Sunday. The U.S. finished sixth overall at the conclusion of today’s competition and will start on a clean slate score of zero on Sunday.
“The mentality coming into Sunday is going to be to win. We can make a couple of tweaks to our plan from today and we’ll be in a good place. Everyone’s very positive and when you come here, there’s just so much is on the line. It’s a lot more pressure for our group. With two teams in contention for the qualification for Paris on Sunday – that’s front and center for us. We did what we had to do today, and we live to fight another day. The real day is Sunday and we’re already focused on the weekend.”
The week is a pressure-filled one for the team as they vie for the potential Paris 2024 Olympic qualification allocation awarded to the highest-placed and previously non-qualified team from Sunday’s final round. Making the cut-off of the top eight from the first round was the initial mission for the team, with McLain Ward, Karl Cook, Jessica Springsteen, and Laura Kraut each ready tackle the difficult track set by Santiago Varela (ESP).
Ward (Brewster, N.Y.) led the team order aboard Callas, a 2008 Holsteiner mare owned by Beechwood Stables LLC, laying down an efficient clear round to start the first rotation off strong, with much more competition to come throughout the day. The pair finished in 79.29 seconds, showing the course was navigable well under the time allowed of 84 seconds.
In his FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final debut for the U.S., Cook (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) set out aboard Kalinka van’t Zorgvliet, a 2010 Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Signe Otsby, looking to keep the team competitive through the second rider rotation of the 15 teams competing. The pair tallied an early four faults, nudging out the front rail of the oxer at fence two, but were poised through the rest of their trip, finishing in 79.79 seconds.
Springsteen (Colt’s Neck, N.J.) was spot on through the entire track with Don Juan van de Donkhoeve, a 2009 Belgian Warmblood stallion owned by Stone Hill Farm, but dropped the A element of the tricky double vertical combination late in the course to also finish on a total of four, putting the team in a close race with several other teams fighting for a berth to the final round.
Kraut and Dorado 212, a 2013 Oldenburg gelding owned by St. Bride’s Farm, jumped lights out around the course, with Dorado looking careful and confident. Just a few jumps from home, the pair dropped the front rail of the big oxer in the last line to put the team on a total of eight faults, pushing them into a waiting game to see the final placings shake out with the last rotation of riders from Brazil, the Netherlands, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.
Ultimately, with rails falling for Mexico, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Spain, the team secured their overall top-eight finish and will now regroup and look towards Sunday, which will be crucial in their journey to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Following Sunday’s competition, the remaining opportunity to qualify will be next month at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.
The NetJets U.S. Jumping Team will be back in action, returning for the second round, beginning at 3:00 p.m. GMT+2 on Sunday, and will go third in the order based on their sixth-place finish in today’s competition. The competition will be streamed via FEI TV on ClipMyHorseTV.
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