Calgary, Alta. – Some of show jumping’s biggest names gathered at Spruce Meadows for the prestigious BMO Nations Cup on Saturday. Known as one of the toughest team competitions on the circuit, the Hermès U.S. Show Jumping Team of Maggie McAlary, Quentin Judge, Lillie Keenan, and Hardin Towell persevered through the challenging course to finish sixth. Following two rounds of fierce competition, Brazil and Switzerland entered a jump-off tied on 18 faults. Alain Jufer and Wiveau M went clear to give Switzerland the Team Gold medal, while Brazil finished with the Team Silver on 22 faults. Canada earned the Bronze medal with 23 faults.

“The course was real, as it always is here at Spruce Meadows, and the scores reflected the degree of difficulty. This was the youngest team out there, and for them to finish sixth against ten of the top veteran teams in the world was a credit to their performances,” said Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland.

Leopoldo Palacios’-designed course distressed every team. Only five of the 38 combinations that took to the course went clear in the first round. Lillie Keenan (New York, N.Y.) and Super Sox, Chansonette Farm LLC.’s 2006 Hanoverian gelding, tackled the course first for the U.S. They set the tone, clearing every jump effortlessly. Unfortunately, they finished two-and-a-half seconds over the time allowed of 78 seconds giving them one time fault.

Quentin Judge (Wellington, Fla.) and HH Whisky Royale, Double H Farm’s 2005 Zangersheide gelding, followed in the order. They got out of rhythm early, incurring four faults when the gelding’s front foot hit the water at fence four and then faulted at the second element of the Rolex double-combination. They added one time fault to end their round on nine faults.

Cissy>everything. #cissytime

A photo posted by Maggie McAlary (@mmcalary) on

The Rolex double-combination also caused the remaining U.S. combinations trouble. Going third in the order, Maggie McAlary (Amherst, N.H) and HH Ciske van Overis, Double H Farm’s 2002 Belgian Warmblood mare, rubbed the top rail of the second element. They also had one time fault to finish on five faults. Hardin Towell (Camden, S.C.) and Lucifer V, Jennifer Gates’ 2006 Westphalian gelding, also accrued four faults at the second element of the combination, but the single error kept the U.S. in a strong position.

Six teams advanced to the second round. The U.S. sat in third place on 10 faults right behind Brazil and Switzerland, tied on eight faults. The U.S. remained in podium contention through three combinations as both Keenan and Judge rode determined rounds and finished on 5 faults each while McAlary added 10 faults. Towell and Lucifer V needed a strong finish to keep the US in contention; however, it was not meant to be as the pair incurred 16 faults. Brazil’s Pedro Veniss added only five faults and Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat went clear.