Vejer de la Frontera, Spain – The U.S. Jumping Team put forth great efforts in the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Vejer de la Frontera CSIO3* at the Sunshine Tour in Vejer de la Frontera, Spain. 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 15 teams. The result was even more notable considering it was the senior team debut for Conners, Rizvi, and Selleck with Pope having made his senior team debut this spring.
“It was an outstanding performance from our team,” said Kursinski. “For our younger team of athletes and horses to jump against 15 top teams, with several Olympians on these other teams, and to almost make the jump-off, it was really an awesome performance today.”
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 pathfinders for the U.S. and started off the competition in an impressive fashion with a clear round. Connors (Glen Mills, Pa.) had some struggles during her round with Falcon de Hus Z, a 2009 Zangersheide gelding owned by Caitlyn Connors LLC and cared for by Liam Hough, to tally 29 faults but determinedly finished with her sights set on the second round. Next, Selleck (Westlake Village, Calif.) and Cloud 39, a 2011 Holsteiner gelding owned by Descanso Farm and cared for by Lucie Rae, delivered a clear round. Pope (Columbia, Md.) and Highway FBH, a 2012 KWPN gelding owned by The Highway Group and cared for by Jacob Catloth, had an unlucky rail in the final combination for four faults to close out the first round. With multiple teams sitting on four faults, the U.S. sat in second place based on total time heading into the second round.
Rizvi and Exquise du Pachis (Vagabond de la Pomme x Toska Hero) led off with a four-fault round. Connors and Falcon de Hus Z (Florian de la Vie x Alidiva) proved their mettle by coming back and having a clear round. Selleck (Westlake Village, Calif.) and Cloud 39 (Clarimo x Wanda VII) had another clear round, earning one of the few double-clear rounds of the day. Pope (Columbia, Md.) and Highway FBH (Plot Blue x Belona) had a misstep at the water jump for four faults. The U.S. ended on eight faults for an excellent third-place finish. After a jump-off for the top placings tied on four faults, Spain claimed the win on their home turf and France took second place.
Kursinski noted that the results in Vejer de la Frontera show the success of the U.S. Jumping Pathway.
“Our program pathway is really working,” said Kursinski. “Zayna Rizvi, who has done the juniors and the young riders [at the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Youth Final] here in Europe, has graduated to this level, and she is only 18. Along with these other athletes, we are really developing the future of our U.S. athletes to be real team contenders and to get to the biggest events of the sport.”
Once competition concludes in Vejer de la Frontera, the U.S. Jumping Team will next head to FEI Jumping Nations Cup Vilamoura CSIO3* in Vilamoura, Portugal, from November 16-19, 2023. Kursinski said she hopes for a strong performance at the next Nations Cup in three weeks as another opportunity for the athletes and horses to gain more experience.
“That is part of the program. It is always wonderful that they can experience this and say, ‘I did it. I jumped the two rounds, and I wore the pinque coat.’ Then, they can take a breath before doing it again,” said Kursinski. “I am looking forward to Vilamoura now that they’ve got this under their belt. I think they are looking forward to it as well, because once they have done it, they are like, ‘Give me another chance!’”
Competition at Vejer de la Frontera continues through Sunday, October 29, with the Grand Prix closing out the week’s classes.
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