The NetJets U.S. Jumping Team advanced to the final round of the 2021 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup CSIO5* by finishing sixth in Friday’s first round of competition at the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona.
Led by Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland, the team consisted of Lillian Keenan, Laura Kraut, Schuyler Riley, and Spencer Smith.
The tracks for the event are set by Spain’s own Santiago Varela, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games course designer. The first-round course proved challenging with a tight time allowed of 80 seconds.
Lillie Keenan (New York City) and Skyhorse, a 14-year-old Belgian Sport Horse gelding owned by Chansonette Farm LLC, was the lead-off rider and had just one time fault.
Spencer Smith (Wellington, Florida), riding in his second Senior Nations Cup aboard Quibelle, a 12-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Gotham Enterprizes LLC, and Schuyler Riley (Wellington, Florida) and Robin de Ponthual, a 16-year-old Selle Francais gelding owned by Katherine Gallagher, each added five faults to the team’s total.
Laura Kraut (Royal Palm Beach, Florida) and Baloutinue, an 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by St. Bride’s Farm, rode in the anchor position and finished with four faults.
Germany won Friday’s event with two faults, Spain was second on three and The Netherlands was third on . The U.S. team finished tied for sixth place with 10 faults, but achieved the overarching goal of finishing in the top eight and advancing to Sunday’s final.
Watch the round that sealed Germany’s victory, from anchor rider Christian Alhmann and Clintrexo Z:
“As we all know, finishing ninth is not a whole lot of fun, and we’ve had experience with that,” Ridland said. “We live to fight another day.”
The U.S. will bring the same four riders back on Sunday, where they will have a different goal from Friday’s round.
“The strategy on Friday is totally different than on Sunday,” he said. “On Sunday you’re trying to win the whole thing. On Friday, you’re trying to beat seven other teams. That’s the only objective.”
With Friday’s strategy, Ridland said that Keenan’s time fault was intentional, in order to have a greater chance to leave all the jumps up by taking a little extra time.
“What Lillie did was spot on and exactly what we planned for,” he said. “Each one of them was just a minor little glitch on the course. It was a solid performance by everybody.”
All eight teams returning for the final round—Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, Brazil, Sweden, Ireland, the U.S. and Belgium—will start on a clean slate. The final starts at 3 p.m. local time Sunday (9 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time). For more information about the CSIO Barcelona, visit www.csiobarcelona.com. For complete results, click here.