LANGLEY, Canada--The U.S. Show Jumping Team secured a spot in October’s FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final, but it didn't come easily, and it wasn't pretty.
In the third and final qualifying competition for North America, the Nations Cup Canada in Langley on Sunday, June 3, the team of Kent Farrington, Jamie Barge, Lucy Deslauriers, and Richard Spooner placed fourth of five teams with 34 faults to earn 70 points, giving the U.S. a total of 235 points from the three competitions to Mexico's 215 points.
The Canadians placed second to Ireland on their home turf to earn 90 points and finish with a total of 290 points to also qualify for Barcelona.
Problems for the U.S. began when Keri Potter's horse Bitalica coliced Saturday evening, and Farrington was called up to fill her spot on the team at the last moment.
Farrington had broken his leg, both the tibia and fibula , in a bad fall during the winter Equestrian Festival last winter and that, combined with his being called upon with such short notice resulted in, when riding Uceko, he had a very uncharacteristic 13 faults in the first round, although he came back in the second round to score a much improved 5 faults.
THE FATHER-DAUGHTER duo of Mario and Lucy Deslauriers from New York, N.Y., were competing against each other, with Mario contributing a 5 fault and a clean round to help Canada to its second place finish, while Lucy, riding in her first Nations Cup ever on Hester, was the star for the U.S., contributing the team's best score of 1 time fault in the first round and one rail for 4 faults in the second.
After Jaime Barge of Malibu, Calif., on Luebbo had 9 faults in the first round and Richard Spooner of Agua Dulce, Calif., on Chatinus had 13, the U.S. was fourth with a total of 23 faults behind Ireland, 2 faults, Canada, 13 faults, Mexico, 20 faults, and ahead of Brazil, with 31 faults.
In the second round, Barge had 5 faults, Delauriers had 4, Farrington had 5 and Spooner improved to just 2 faults for the U.S. to finish on 34 faults.
Ireland, assured of a win, didn't send its last rider and finished on 9 faults for the win over Canada, 18 faults, Mexico, 25 faults, the U.S., and Brazil, 40 faults.
“We always come seeking a podium finish, but we just missed by one here,” said chef d'equipe Robert Ridland. “Our clear objective coming to Langley was to qualify for the final in Barcelona, and we did it. It was a dog fight out there no question, for all the teams. We certainly came here and did what we came to accomplish.”
“We ended up today with two veterans and two newcomers,” said Ridland. “With Keri’s horse getting a mild case of colic and being out of the mix - that was a last minute substitute for Kent to come in and do that, and it worked out very well. It is always a tough one under that kind of pressure for the riders. They gained incredible experience today.”
Now that the U.S. Show Jumping Team has qualified for the FEI Nations Cup Final, and sit in second in the North and Central America and Caribbean division, Ridland and the U.S. team turn their attention to the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon 2018 short-listed athletes.
“We shift gears now,” said Ridland. “Having qualified for the Final, our main focus for the rest of the summer is the short-listed riders for the WEG. We start in two weeks in Sopot, followed by Rotterdam, and then Aachen the next month, followed by Dublin. That will be our focus. We came into the year with three big priorities: the World Cup Finals, the Nations Cup Final, and our primary objective, the WEG at home. We got the first box checked in Paris, now we are in the Nations Cup Final, so we can check that off, and now, our clear focus is our preparation for WEG.”
Lauren Hough, who had been short-listed on Ohlalala, is off the short-list as Ohlala came up lame, and no one has replaced her.
The short-list now consists of Jamie Barge of Malibu, Calif., Margie Engle of Wellington, Fla., Kent Farrington of Wellington, Fla., Lillie Keenan of New York, N.Y., Laura Kraut of Wellington, Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, N.Y., Devin Ryan of Long Valley, N.J., Adrienne Sternlicht of Greenwich, Conn., and McLain Ward of Brewster, N.Y.
COMPETING in Langley the day before the Nations Cup, the U.S. Children and Junior Nations Cup Teams both won over teams from Canada and Mexico, a good omen for the future.
Led by Chef d’Equipe DiAnn Langer, the Children’s Team of Emma Callanan, Dylan Laiken, Parker Cliff and Alexa Leong ended on eight faults to claim gold.
“I feel it was an incredible morning of show jumping,” said Langer. “The juniors and the children both rose to the occasion. None of them failed under the pressure.”
Callanan of Lebanon, N.J., on Cocu, put in two fault-free rounds, allowing the team to start each round on the right foot.
This is the second team event Callanan has ridden for the U.S. this year, having aided in a team gold-medal win at CSIJCh Ocala in February.
Laiken of Pasadena, Calif., and Callaot perfect for both rounds, riding second in the order.
Rails in both rounds for Cliff of Sacramento, Calif. on Fanadwest Rebel, resulted as the drop scores.
Leong of Sacramento, Calif., on Hertogin Ter Drie Leien anchored the team, with 4 faults in each round and sealing the gold-medal win.
Leong also contributed to a third place U.S. team podium position in Ocala earlier this year.
The U.S. Junior Team, comprised of Alyce Bittar, Coco Fath, Mattie Hatcher, and Hayden Zadel won the gold medal on four faults in a jump-off against Mexico.
Fath of Fairfield, Conn., on Huckleberry led the way for the U.S. team with two clear rounds.
Bittar of Los Angeles, Calif.), on Lara Croft B, second in the order, had rail in each round.
Zadel of Monte Sereno, Calif., on Triskel de Kerliven had two clear rounds, and Hatcher of Little Rock, Ark., on Cristiano, the drop score in the first round, jumped a clear final round to secure the jump-off.
“The jump-off in the junior competition was extraordinary,” saidd Langer. “All of the children and juniors are headed to NAYC [the FEI/Adequan© North American Youth Championships]. They clearly are part of our future. They are seeking youth education and competition opportunities and it is paying off for them.”
Meanwhile, in Portugal, the U.S. Show Jumping Development Team won the bronze medal at the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ CSIO3* Lisbon.
Chef d'Equipe Anne Kursinski guided the team of Taylor Alexander and Ryanair de Riverland, Zazou Hoffman and Samson II, Alise Oken and Hitchcock VD Broekkant, and Andrew Ramsay and California 62 to finish on a score of 28 faults.
Ireland won the gold medal on a score of 16 faults, while Belgium claimed silver on a score of 21 faults.