The U.S. Jumping Team placed eighth in the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Vilamoura CSIO3* on November 21, 2021, in Vilamoura, Portugal. Led by Chef d’Equipe Anne Kursinski, the team consisted of Carly Anthony, Olivia Chowdry, Maria Costa, and Hilary McNerney.
All four riders on the U.S. team were only competing in their second Nations Cup ever, after having ridden in their first just three weeks ago in Vejer de la Frontera, Spain.
“These athletes haven’t competed at the [FEI North American Youth Championships] either,” explained Kursinski, “so this two-round team format is new to them and a totally different experience from their normal individual competition. They can’t get this experience at home, so to have them come over [to Europe] and ride in Nations Cups is so important.
“It was great that we made it into the second round,” continued Kursinski. “Now they want to do this again and improve. The only way you can learn is to actually do it. These experiences are what makes them team riders later for five-star competitions and championships. They were a great group of athletes to work with, and they are eager to do more.”
Riding as the first to go for the U.S. team, Maria Costa (29, Wellington, Fla.) started off strong with a clear ride – one of only six in the first round – with Presence, a 13-year-old American Holsteiner gelding by Contendro II x Nekton owned by Ravello Farms LLC. They returned in round two with 12 faults.
“I thought it was a very good course for the Nations Cup,” said Kursinski. “It was ‘only’ 1.45m, but it was hard to jump a clear round, especially in the first round. It was technical, very delicate, and challenging for sure. I was really proud of Maria being the lead-off rider and bringing home that clear round.”
In the second spot on the team order, Olivia Chowdry (29, Denver, Colo.) and Balkana du Tillard, a 10-year-old Selle Francais mare by Kannan x Landgold owned by Atlas Equine Holdings LLC. They recorded eight faults in the first round and improved in the second round to finish with just four faults.
Hilary McNerney (30, Wellington, Fla.) and her own Lovelight, a 10-year-old Holsteiner stallion by Love Z x Lordship, scored eight faults in round one, and they matched that score of eight faults in round two.
Riding out of the anchor spot, Carly Anthony (31, Wellington, Fla.) and Jet Blue, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding by VDL Zirocco Blue x Indoctro owned by Portfolio Horses LLC, brought home four faults in round one and were able to jump to a fantastic clear in round two.
Kursinski noted, “Carly was outstanding and really came back and fought for the second round. It was just like you want to see in a Nations Cup athlete.”
The U.S. team finished with 12 faults in round one, making the cut to return for round two out of a 17-team starting order. In round two, they added another 12 faults for a total of 24 faults and eighth place. Ireland took the win on eight faults, while Italy and Switzerland tied for second with 12 faults.
For more information about the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Vilamoura CSIO3*, please visit www.vilamouraequestriancentre.com.
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