By US Equestrian Communications Department
The NetJets U.S. Jumping Team finished fifth in their first team event of the season in the $150,000 FEI Jumping Nations Cup Wellington CSIO4* in Wellington, Fla. The team, comprised of Natalie Dean and Acota M, Mimi Gochman and Celina BH, Mavis Spencer and Carissimo 25, and Adrienne Sternlicht and Faquitol-S, completed the competition on a final team total of 32 faults after two rounds of competition, which featured 11 different nations competing under the lights at Wellington International. The team was led by Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland.
“Our plan has been set for months that we were going to use this home Nations Cup, this four-star Nations Cup, for basically our next generation of riders,” Ridland said. “We’ve got a major priority this year in qualifying for [the Paris 2024 Olympics], so the five-stars will have more of the veteran riders. Here it was intentional to have the riders of the future and to give them the experience in the electric environment that exists [at Wellington International]. There’s no question we had the youngest team out there. Those riders all learned something under immense pressure, and I’m very proud of them.”
Dean (Palo Alto, Fla.) and Acota M, a 2013 Oldenburg mare owned by Marigold Sporthorses, LLC, led the team in the order and jumped clean in their first tour of the course, finishing in 67.44 seconds.
“I knew she could take the pressure,” Ridland said of Dean. “I thought that would be the best horse-rider combination for the time allowed, and it worked out exactly for that reason.”
Gochman (Palm Beach, Fla.) and Celina BH, a 2010 Holsteiner mare owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC, came away with a good effort in their first round, with just four faults at the water, with Spencer and Sternlicht to follow.
Spencer (Somis, Calif.) and Carissimo 25, a 2013 Holsteiner gelding owned by Georgy Maskrey-Segesman, finished their initial round on 16 faults.
In her 10th appearance for the team and her first with Faquitol-S, a 2010 KWPN gelding owned by Starlight Farms 1 LLC, Sternlicht (Greenwich, Conn.) completed her first round on 17 faults.
“Adrienne was our only rider with championship experience, but she was on a young horse, and it was a great testing ground for her,” Ridland said of Sternlicht and Faquitol-S, a new pairing in their fourth month together. “The first round didn’t work out the way she wanted, and she made a couple of adjustments and the horse jumped great in the second round.”
The pair of strong rounds from Dean and Gochman—the youngest athletes in the competition—helped the U.S. hold onto the eighth spot on 20 faults in the first round, qualifying the U.S. for the second round with seven other nations.
The U.S. performed strongly in round two, finishing on just 12 team faults, with Dean and Acota M, Gochman and Celina BH, and Sternlicht and Faquitol-S finishing with four faults apiece.
“Nations Cups are all about the second round,” Ridland said. “The second round never rides quite the same as the first round. It’s a totally different type of pressure that’s required for the riders. They really dug down deep in that second round, and to be honest, the three four-fault rounds were very close to being clean. We were just a whisker away from three clean rounds.”