Ocala, Fla. – Feb. 16, 2018 – The fifth week of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit marks the start of the brand new Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ series in the North/Central America and Caribbean division. The new series brings a change to the week’s schedule as Friday highlighted the $265,000 Longines Grand Prix CSI5*, while the $450,000 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of the USA CSIO5* will be held on Sunday. At the end of the day, the USA took three of the top five spots on the leaderboard in Friday’s grand prix competition.
Forty-one of the world’s top horses and athletes set out to jump clear over Marina Azevedo’s technical 13-fence first round course on Friday. The time-allowed played a significant role as many athletes faced time faults after their rounds including five combinations who jumped clear but incurred just 1 time fault. Only four pairs performed faultlessly to advance to the jump-off round, which included the USA’s Devin Ryan and Laura Kraut.
Ryan and Eddie Blue, owned by LL Show Jumpers, LLC, concluded Friday’s $265,000 Longines Grand Prix CSI5* as the final entry in the jump-off, leaving all of the rails intact and posting a time of 48.17 seconds to secure second place honors.
Coming off of their second place finish in the $220,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Wellington CSI3*-W at the Palm Beach Masters just two weeks ago, Kraut and St. Bride’s Farm’s Confu lowered the height of one fence in the jump-off for 4 faults in 49.25 seconds to take fourth place, while Alison Robitaille and Ace, owned by Bertram and Diana Firestone, were the fastest of the 1 time-faulters to finish in fifth place.
Heading into Sunday’s Nations Cup, U.S. Chef d’Équipe Robert Ridland said, “We’re ready for Sunday. Confu will also be competing on Sunday with Laura. He thrives on going in a lot of classes and he obviously looked pretty good. His clean round today looked great. The other four [horses] are ready and waiting. They went Wednesday and Thursday and now we just wait and see what happens.”
Earlier in the day, the Junior’s City of Ocala Grand Prix went to Carolina Villanueva of the USA and her own Zabel D. They jumped clear with 2 time faults in 90.60 seconds to claim first place honors. The junior and children’s team competitions will take place on Saturday. To read more about the athlete/horse combinations representing the U.S. in the junior and children’s team competitions, click here.
The USET Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports the competition, training, coaching, travel and educational needs of America’s elite and developing international and high performance horses and athletes in partnership with US Equestrian.