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NetJets® U.S. Jumping Team Starts European Season Strong with Competitive Fourth Place Finish at Piazza di Siena in FEI Jumping Nations Cup Rome CSIO5*

by US Equestrian Communications Dept. | May 24, 2024, 1:47 PM

Rome, Italy – The NetJets U.S. Jumping Team contested their first major European Nations Cup of the 2024 season with a tightly contested fourth-place finish in the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Rome CSIO5* held at the iconic Piazza di Siena at Villa Borghese. The team finished with a final total of eight faults over two rounds of competition in a hotly contested bid for the podium determined by the last few riders in round two. 

“Overall, I think there are a lot of positives to take away from the result today. To be tied for a podium position and just get bumped by a few tenths of a second is a tough pill to swallow, but we really had to fight to stay in it and everyone learned something today,” said Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland. “Aaron and Carissimo were impressive as a combination and put in our only double clear of the class, and both Lillie and Karl had an unfortunate rail in the second round after very strong, clear efforts in round one. Alise bounced back to improve on her score in her second go, so I think all and all, it’s a good start to a very competitive few weeks for us here in Europe and sets the tone for us to be in the hunt for podium finishes at these major Nations Cup events.”

Lillie Keenan (New York, N.Y.) and her seasoned partner Argan de Beliard were first in the team rotation to test the track. The course, set on the sprawling grass of the Villa Borghese, would test combinations throughout, including a spooky plank vertical after the water and a 1.60m triple combination early in the design. The pair were calm and collected as the team’s trailblazers, notching the first clear round of the day for the U.S. contingent.

Second in for the team was Alise Oken (Charlotte, N.C.) aboard Gelvera, who also represented the team in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. The duo was caught out early by the triple combination, having both B and C elements down. The pair finished on a total of 12, with two combinations left in round one for the U.S.

Caracole de la Roque has shown her talent and speed with Karl Cook (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) and the pair delivered as the third partnership in the rotation for the team. The pair were sharp and efficient, adding another clear round behind Keenan’s to the team’s first round total.

As the anchor combination, Aaron Vale (Williston, Fla.) and Carissimo 25 were pressured to keep the team in the hunt for the top three positions on the leaderboard needing a clear to ensure the team moved to the second round on zero faults. The experienced Vale and Carissimo 25, who were also teammates of Oken and Gelvera’s in Abu Dhabi, rode the track to near perfection, pushing the team through to round two on zero faults.

The U.S. entered round two tied with Germany on zero faults as the competition picked up its intensity in the second round with little room for error at the top of the leaderboard. Keenan and Argan de Beliard, a 2010 Selle Français gelding owned by Chansonette Farm and cared for by Cory Tual, delivered another exceptional round for the team, but their early rub at fence one came back to bite them, as the rail dropped late in the class, but before they crossed through the timers, counting for their four faults.

Oken and Gelvera, a 2011 KWPN mare owned by Hi Hopes Farm, LLC, and cared for by Gail Shepherd and Kerstin Mutter, improved on their first-round score, just adding eight faults to their total, with an element of the triple and delicate plank after the water dropping towards the end of the course. The pair’s eight faults with Keenan’s four would push the final two combinations to deliver to keep the team’s strong position at the top of the leaderboard.

As a pair still gaining valuable team experience together, Cook and Caracole de la Roque, a 2012 Selle Français mare owned by Signe Ostby and cared for by Tessa Falanga, showed the growing trust in their partnership with another solid round as third in the team rotation. The pair were the second combination on the team to have the plank drop from the cups but finished on just four in their second trip around the course.

The anchor combination played an important role in the results, with team totals changing drastically in the second round. Vale and Carissimo 25, a 2013 Holsteiner gelding owned by Debbie Smith and cared for by Nicky Cook, were tasked with delivering a clear for the team to keep them secure on eight faults in a fight for the podium. The pair were insync and consistent, producing the only double clear effort for the team over both rounds. Their time of 77.16 seconds barely pushed Belgium into the third-place position, with the U.S. taking fourth on a final two-round total of eight faults. Germany took the win with a clean score sheet, finishing on zero faults, while Ireland took second on a total of four.

The NetJets U.S. Jumping Team will now head to the Longines League of Nations St. Gallen CSIO5* next week as their next outing as part of their European season.

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