Vilamoura, Portugal – It was an exciting finish in the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Vilamoura CSIO3* in Vilamoura, Portugal for the U.S. Jumping Team. A three-way tie for first place resulted in a jump-off between Belgium, Great Britain, and the U.S. Chef d’Equipe Anne Kursinski led the team of Zayna Rizvi and Exquise du Pachis, Caitlyn Connors and Falcon de Hus Z, Hannah Selleck and Cloud 39, and Jacob Pope and Highway FBH to a third-place finish out of 14 teams. The team also finished third in FEI Jumping Nations Cup Vejer de la Frontera CSIO3* as part of a European tour.
“It was a great team and to see how they came back after three weeks ago [in Vejer de la Frontera] to have gotten that experience under their belt and to get to do it again was so wonderful,” said Kursinski. “This week was interesting and different because they had the Nations Cup on Sunday. That has a little different feeling to it, and they all handled that well by waiting and waiting until Sunday.”
Rizvi (Wellington, Fla.) and Exquise du Pachis, a 2010 Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Optimus Agro NV and cared for by Arturo Vidal, were the lead-off pair for the U.S. and started off the with a four-fault round. Connors (Glen Mills, Pa.) and Falcon de Hus Z, a 2009 Zangersheide gelding owned by Caitlyn Connors LLC and cared for by Liam Hough, had a four-fault round as well. Next, Selleck (Westlake Village, Calif.) and Cloud 39, a 2011 Holsteiner gelding owned by Descanso Farm and cared for by Lucie Rae, had two fences down for eight faults. Pope (Columbia, Md.) and Highway FBH, a 2012 KWPN gelding owned by The Highway Group and cared for by Jacob Catloth, got the team back on track with a clear round. The U.S. sat in a four-way tie for fourth place on eight faults at the end of the first round.
“Today I think they all came out eager to try to win. There were just little mistakes here or there,” said Kursinski. “It was so exciting to have Jacob come back and jump that clear and get us in the eight to come back for the second round. The pressure was on, and he handled that beautifully. That’s why I had him in the anchor spot.”
Rizvi and Exquise du Pachis (Vagabond de la Pomme x Toska Hero) had a clear round to start off the second round. Connors and Falcon de Hus Z (Florian de la Vie x Alidiva) also had a clear round. Selleck (Westlake Village, Calif.) and Cloud 39 (Clarimo x Wanda VII) followed suit with their own clear round. Pope and Highway FBH (Plot Blue x Belona) had an unlucky rail for four faults to close out the second round.
“It was so great for everyone to come back fighting,” said Kursinki of the second round. Zayna to come back and to jump clear, then Caitlyn clear, then Hannah clear. Hannah was under the weather, but she fought for it that time and was great. With three clear rounds and not being able to better our score, we didn’t need to have Jacob jump again but did it as part of the whole team experience. I said, ‘You’re here. Let’s get the experience with two rounds.’”
After the second round, the U.S., Belgium, and Great Britain were in a three-way tie on eight faults for first place, requiring a jump-off with one combination from each team to determine the podium placings. The U.S. Jumping Team’s Rizvi and Exquise du Pachis went first in the jump-off, tallying four faults in a time of 33.04 seconds—the fastest time of the jump-off—for third place. Belgium’s Jeoren Appelen and Monte Blue PS were next, going clear in a time of 35.12 seconds for second place. Great Britain’s Mark Edwards and Flying Tinker II clinched the win with a clear round in a time of 33.30 seconds.
“To finish up third and be on the podium a second time on the tour was so exciting,” said Kursinski. “I’m so proud of them. They really fought for it. We got the clear rounds in the second round, and of course, Jacob in the first round. They really deserved to be here. People were saying how well they rode and noting the American system and style with loads of great compliments from other athletes around the world over here.”
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