By US Equestrian Communications Department
Uggerhalne, Denmark – It was an all-around fantastic day for the U.S. Jumping Team at FEI Jumping Nations Cup Uggerhalne CSIO3*. The team of Alise Oken, Jacob Pope, Nikko Ritter, and Alessandra Volpi displayed excellent riding under pressure to win the Nations Cup. Chef d’Equipe Anne Kursinski guided the team, with Pope, Ritter, and Volpi making their senior team debut, to the top result. In addition to the impressive team finish, Pope and Ritter had double-clear rounds in their first Nations Cup appearances.
“I’m really proud of all of them,” said Kursinski. “I had Alise Oken on a three-star team years ago, but she is really the only one who has ever jumped a real Nations Cup. For the other three to really rise to the occasion, be professional, and stay focused to jump clear rounds is very, very exciting. And the other teams were great. There were 11 teams we had to jump against. The Netherlands was strong, and Sweden had several Olympians on their team. There are really some top riders and great horses here. It was a fabulous win for everybody.”
Despite the U.S. Jumping Team being a group of relative newcomers to Nations Cup competition, a supportive atmosphere helped everyone succeed.
“We have a great team with Erin Keating and Dr. Christiana Ober. I think the whole team is extremely cohesive—the grooms, the riders, just all of that,” said Kursinski. “It’s a great feeling, and, of course, then I think everybody performs better when they experience that. It is an outstanding team—the whole team.”
The U.S. drew first in the order, and Oken (Charlotte, N.C.) and Gelvera were the first combination in the ring for Nations Cup competition, delivering a solid round aside from an unlucky four faults. Pope (Columbia, Md.) and Highway FBH delivered a clear round, and Ritter (Wellington, Fla.) and Aquiles del Caribe Z followed suit with their own clear round. Anchor combination Volpi (Woodside, Calif.) and Berlinda also jumped clear for the team to close out a strong first round for the U.S., sitting in a tie on zero faults with the Netherlands.
Returning as the final team to go in the order, Oken and Gelvera, a 2011 Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Hi Hopes Farm, LLC and groomed by Barbara Macinska and Gail Shepard, started off the second round for the U.S. by handily jumping clear to improve upon their initial performance.
Pope and Highway FBH, a 2012 KWPN gelding owned by The Highway Group and groomed by Jacob Catloth, had another excellent clear round.
Up next, Ritter and Aquiles del Caribe Z, a 2014 Zangersheide gelding owned by Ritter and groomed by Sophie Lecocq, delivered a clear round to secure the win for the U.S. Jumping Team.
With the win confirmed, Volpi and Berlinda, a 2008 Warmblood mare owned by Volpi and groomed by Emmanuelle Malboeuf, did not need to jump a second round.
“With the federation sending the three-star teams, they are really getting this experience, so they can, hopefully, be on more senior teams in the near future,” said Kursinski. “I think several of them have desires to be on championship teams, so this is always a steppingstone for them. I think this group really has big futures ahead of them.”
Denmark, Germany, and Poland finished tied on eight faults, but Denmark took second and Germany was third based on the cumulative times from the two rounds.