LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Canada--Securing the vitally important qualification for the Nations Cup Finals in Barcelona, the U.S. Jumping Team finished third in the Nations Cup CSIO5* at Thunderbird Show Park in Canada on Sunday, June 4.
The Nations Cup Final is one of only two remaining places in which the U.S. can qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
“The mandatory all-out effort to get qualified for Barcelona was our goal from the first part of the year,” U.S. Chef d'Equipe Robert Ridland said. “This was exactly what our plan was. You’d like to win, but podium finishes are what we go for and we got it.”
Sunday’s podium also gave the U.S. Team the top title in the Jumping Nations Cup North and Central American and Caribbean Division, with the team previously winning the two earlier competitions in the series at San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
Having won the first two competitions, all the U.S. had to do was get through both rounds to qualify for Barcelona.
KARL COOK of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., on Kalinka van't Zorgvliet led off for the U.S., over the course built by Peter Holmes of Canada, with the team drawing second in the competition order.
Mexico went first in the order,followed by the U.S., Ireland, Australia and Canada.
Cook had eight faults, followed by Charlotte Jacobs of East Aurora, N.Y., on Edocenta, who also had eight faults with a rail down and a foot in the water.
Lacey Gilbertson of Lake Forest, Ill., on Karlin van 't Vennehof had 16 faults to eventually be the drop score.
Anchor rider Kent Farrington of Wellington, Fla., on Landon went clean to have the team finish round one on a total score of 16.
“The course ended up being a good course,” Ridland said. “It was as it should have been—hard enough, and it was a tremendous learning experience for Charlotte and Lacey in their first five-star team competition.”
We sent a young team and had oped to get on the podium," said Ridland. "Karl has done a couple of Nations Cups, but it was the first for both Charlotte and Lacey, and all three learned a lot. All three went better in the second round. It was an exciting competition."
Time is often a factor in Nation Cup competitions, but the time in Canada was fairly lenient, with only two riders adding a time fault.
Opening round two, Cook delivered a clear round well under the time, and Jacobs finished on four faults to improve on both their first-round efforts.
Gilbertson finished on eight faults to conclude the debut for the team but was again the drop score.
Farrington also had an uncharacteristic eight faults,, so the team finished on a total of 12 in the second round for a total of 28 faults.
With both Ireland and Canada finishing the first round on four faults, it came down to a battle between the two for the win.
In the second round, Shane Sweetnam on James Kann Cruz, Daniel Coyle on Gisborne VDL and David Blake onClaudewere all clean, meaning Conor Swail on Nadal Hero & DB didn't have to go, and the team finished on four faults.
Then for Canada, Tiffany Foster had a rail down on Hamilton, and Erynn Ballard on Gakhir and Mario Deslauriers on Emerson were both clean in the second round.
That left it up to Amy Millar on Truman to keep the Canadians in the running, as a clear round would send Canada and Ireland to a jump-off.
But Canada's anchor pair had a front rail of the oxer fall at Fence 6 to give the win to Ireland on four faults, with Canada placing second with eight fsults and the U.S. third with 28 faults.
Mexico finished fourth on 32 faults, and Australia was fifth with 62 faults.
The United States finished its season on top of the division standings with 280 points, having won in both San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and San Juan Capistrano, Calif.
Sweetnam and Ballard were the only two double clears to split the bonus for that classification.
Mexico and Canada finished the season with equal points, 240, so a tiebreaker was necessary to determine the second qualified team for October's Nations Cup Finals in Barcelona, Spain.
That tie was broken by the number of clear rounds produced by each nation throughout the series; Mexico had seven clear rounds—one more than Canada—securing Mexico's place in Barcelona.