U.S. Jumping Team Finishes 4th in Nations Cup Rome CSIO5*

The U.S. contested their first European Nations Cup of 2024 to earn a fourth-place finish in the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Rome CSIO5*.

May 24, 2024—The NetJets U.S. Jumping Team contested their first major European Nations Cup of the 2024 season. The team earned a tightly contested fourth-place finish in the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Rome CSIO5*. The competition was held at the iconic Piazza di Siena at Villa Borghese in Italy. The team finished with a final total of eight faults over two rounds of competition. The bid for the podium that was 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 [Vale] and Carissimo were impressive as a combination and put in our only double clear of the class. And both Lillie [Keenan] and Karl [Cook] had an unfortunate rail in the second round after very strong, clear efforts in Round 1,” Ridland continued. “Alise [Oken] bounced back to improve on her score in her second go. So I think all in 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.”

Nations Cup Rome CSIO5* Round 1

Lillie Keenan of New York, New York, and her partner Argan de Beliard were first in the team rotation. The course, set on the sprawling grass of the Villa Borghese, tested combinations throughout. This included a spooky plank vertical after the water and a 1.60-meter triple combination early in the design. The pair was calm and collected as the team’s trailblazers. They notched the first clear round of the day for the U.S. contingent.

Second in for the team was Alise Oken of Charlotte, North Carolina, aboard Gelvera. They 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 faults, with two combinations left in round one for the U.S.

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

Aaron Vale and Carissimo 25 helped the NetJets U.S. Jumping Team finish in fourth in the FEI Jumping Nations Cup Rome CSIO5*. ©Mackenzie Clark

As the anchor combination, Aaron Vale of Williston, Florida, and Carissimo 25 had pressure to keep the team in the hunt for a medal position. They needed a clear to ensure the team moved to the second round on zero faults. Vale and Carissimo 25, who were also Oken and Gelvera’s teammates in Abu Dhabi, rode the track to near perfection. Their finish pushed the team through to round two on zero faults.

Nations Cup Rome CSIO5* Round 2

The U.S. entered Round 2 tied with Germany on zero faults. There was little room for error at the top of the leaderboard. Keenan and Argan de Beliard delivered another exceptional round for the team. But their early rub at Fence 1 came back to bite them. The rail dropped late in the class, but before they crossed through the timers, counting for their four faults. Argan de Beliard is a 2010 Selle Français gelding owned by Chansonette Farm and cared for by Cory Tual.

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

Still gaining valuable team experience together, Cook and Caracole de la Roque showed the growing trust in their partnership. They had 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 they finished on just four in their second trip around the course. Caracole de la Roque is a 2012 Selle Français mare owned by Signe Ostby and cared for by Tessa Falanga.

Olympic Short-Listed Riders

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

Cook, Keenan and Vale are on the U.S. Jumping Team Short List for 2024 Paris Olympic Games. They and their fellow short-listed riders are focusing on competing at designated CSIO/CSI observation events. The final team selection will be in early July. The NetJets U.S. Jumping Team will now head to the Longines League of Nations St. Gallen CSIO5* next week.

Results

Thanks to Sentinel Horse Nutrition for our coverage of the 2024 Paris Olympics. It includes rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more.

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